Archive for June, 2012
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSV]
If I have trouble sleeping, my retreat is the sofa in the living room and not the over-stuffed reclining Lazy Boy™ in the den. The living room sofa is near the big window that overlooks the darken yard with steams of street light between the trees that reveals a peaceful silent scene that is a contagious place for dreamy visions. That living room sofa, while comfortable for sitting for a decent conversation after dinner is not a good sleeping sofa. It is too short for a comfortable all-night sleep and the pillows are not the right size for good cranial support. But this space is separated from the glowing television and midnight bathroom traffic jams. I can stand to sleep there just long enough to benefit from the dark, cool refreshment that makes the bed most inviting and comfortable by comparison.
If I attempt to sleep in the snuggly sofa in the den I find myself turning on the television and watching some old move that I would not otherwise watch and awake to the blaring barking of an infomercial and a stiffness in my back that each require my alert attention before stumbling back to the bed to recover.
Have you ever taken the worries and fears of the day to bed with you? Instead of counting sheep we try counting troubles and obligations, responsibilities and impossibilities, or fears and failures get replayed in our minds and we hope to wear out our minds, which bring quite unsettled dreams if we even remember what we dreamed in what felt like a fifteen minute nap that took six hours to find.
Have you ever watch a child sleep ever so sweetly in the warmth of a favorite blanket, clutching the familiar yet ragged stuffed, plush friend and watch the deep, smooth and peaceful breaths of tranquil relaxation? They are so peaceful we want to shake just a little to make sure they are still with us in some envious desire to share their carefree bliss..
Have you ever fought back sleep, straining to remain present with someone ill or even near their final breath? Wanting to hear the certainty of life giving air and afraid that this next labored breath might be just one of ten thousand last breaths, or not. Fatigues and dazed we think that if we remain alert that we could postpone or add a single breath to a loved-one’s life by our breathing or holding our breath.. And our bodies hunger for rest that we deny them in the name of love and the exercise of grief.
It is nearly impossible to place ourselves “in the boat” with the disciples and Jesus. In reading and hearing this text from Mark, we have the opportunity to step into the storm with the disciples but we do it only with our awareness of Jesus’s strength and trustworthiness from our perspective of faith, our knowing and trusting the whole story. It is easy from our vantage point to say, ‘Trust Jesus’ or ‘You’re going to be ok’.
But things are not always so simple. Things are not always ok. Our storms rage and our troubles toss our lives around. And we doubt, fear, question and panic as though we have no faith at all. It seems simple to go and find Jesus from out point of view.
As a parent it does seem that on those rare occasions when all seems well and we anticipate sleeping in the next morning with no demands upon our time, that we encounter the nights that children have nightmares, the dogs sense some intruding squirrel just outside the door, or the stormy night sets off the weather alert alarm and everyone ends up in the bathroom for forty minutes, that make voice the dreams of a peaceful night. Our prayers are for the morning to come.
The passage is about sleep but not so much about our sleep. It is about the times and circumstances where we wonder if God is asleep at the wheel. People are hungry in deep poverty and famine and we ask, “Does God care that so many are hungry?” Millions of parent-less children in Africa die from AIDS, “Is God aware?” Countries are in economic turmoil and on the edge of financial collapse, “Is God still around?” Nations at war, terrorism threatening at home and around the globe, “What is Jesus doing asleep when we need him most?”
There answer(s) come with two assurances. 1) We living in a world where storms, not of our doing threaten to kill and destroy. We enter somethings knowingly and some catch us off-guard, either way we are powerless alone. Which begs #2) It is when the disciples recognize they cannot save themselves that the finally turn to Jesus for saving.
Ah Ha! The Peace, in the storm is found, when turning to Jesus.
It does not prevent storm, fear and terror, but it is ever present along with, during and after. They question is: Q: What if at the first sign of trouble the disciples had gone to Jesus? What if they had gone to Jesus first before waiting to the last?
Over and over the miracles of Jesus show people who have tried every remedy, waiting many years, struggle through rejections, fear, or shame finally ask Jesus into their lives and new life, whole life is found.
Is this the peace that Jesus offers. In our storms Jesus finds the sofa and waits for us to come to his side. Lord Jesus help us, save us, hold us… give us your peace.
Jesus waits, don’t be afraid to wake him, Again and Again, His rest is ours if we ask… What are you waiting for? Find Peace in Him who calms every storm. Amen.
4:26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” 30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. NRSV
It’s difficult to find good biblical examples of fathers. Noah, after the flood got drunk off his own vineyard and exposed himself to his children, Abraham ties up Issac and reads to sacrifice him to God, Isc had two sons Essa and Jacob and loved Essa more, Jacob loved Joseph best out of 13. Gideon had many wife’s and seventy son, David’s last request of his son was to kill his enemy, King Solomon had hundreds of wives and mistresses. Jesus only has his father for half his life time. Where can we find a godly father?
Census: U.S. 313,759,467 / World 7,020,470,886 / 11:36 UTC (EST+5) Jun 17, 2012
70.1M fathers of 150M+ males
Cost to raise child rises to about $235,000 June 15, 2012|Associated Press
WASHINGTON – For $235,000, you could indulge in a shiny new Ferrari – or raise a child for 17 years.
A government report released Thursday found that a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about that much in child-related expenses from birth through age 17. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010.
The report from the Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion said housing is the single largest expense, averaging about $70,500, or 30 percent of the total cost.
Families living in the urban Northeast tend to have the highest child-rearing expenses, followed by those in the urban West and the urban Midwest. Those living in the urban South and rural areas face the lowest costs.
The estimate includes the cost of transportation, child care, education, food, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous expenses.
The US Department of Agriculture has issued the report every year since 1960, when it estimated the cost of raising a child was just over $25,000 for middle-income families. That would be $191,720 today when adjusted for inflation.
Housing was also the largest expense in raising a child back in 1960. But the cost of child care for young children – negligible 50 years ago – is now the second-largest expense as more moms work outside the home.
The report considers middle-income parents to be those with an income between $59,400 and $102,870. The cost per child decreases for a family with more children.
Tell me the stories of Jesus…
What child need to hear from their fathers:
Letters from day: 25% of men verbally tell their children “I love you” only 5% also write it.
Telling the story
Jesus uniquely used parables to teach the deep and powerful truths of the kingdom, of God, and life. The gift of e story,…
Dads, tell your kids about Jesus.
Don’t assume they will guess correctly from your actions, they see you too often or too frequently.
Start with Jesus’s stories…. Google them, “The kingdom of god is like…”
Fables have a lesson
Parables have the same point no matter the details do the story…all point to god
The French name is the great story teller is a raconteur, this is the main character of my own fathers stories, Messier Raconteur… Told stories from around the world because sharing stories kept him alive.
This fathers day, give the gifts, you be the story teller and share the faith, today and everyday.
Annual Conference News
Day 3 – June 14, 2013
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2Tim 2:1-2
- distribute 1.2 million pounds of food
- provide a home for 70 families in 20 counties
- support more than 200 homeless people with disabilities
- support 650 people with GED classes, financial literacy and after-school program for homeless children
- feed 100,000 meals to children this summer
- host an Action Dash 5K in Rome, Gainesville, Athens, Augusta, and Atlanta. “Sign up to walk, run, form a church team, form a youth team, to bring your friends, your family, your grandma, your dog, your stroller,” said Moeller.
Upcoming Connectional Ministries training highlighted:
- Great Starts: Five workshops to help pastors in new appointments and staff to get off on the right foot and help strengthen your local church. Register at www.ngumc.org/greatstarts
- Offering Grace: When Life Offers Loss is a workshop for churches served by a local pastor, set for 3 p.m. Sept. 23 at Gainesville First, with Dr. Tom Long discussing funerals.
- Youth Ministry Institute (YMI) begins in January 2013. This excellent year-long training opportunity is for both paid and volunteer youth ministers. The 2013 class will meet for one retreat weekend and two Saturdays to better accommodate a variety of youth ministers.
- Members of the Lay Revitalization Ministry are available to work with local churches to develop new programs to attract visitors and to help grow and revitalize churches.
- Leadership UMC is a year-long faith development and education program for laity. It provides an opportunity to refine skills, share ideas, pray and learn about the United Methodist Church. This year’s class was the largest in the history of the program with 48 graduates.
- The Conference Board of Laity thanked Jane Finley for her service as lay leader for the past four years
Other Reports and Important Information …
- Conference passed a resolution in support of repealing the Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011
- Cary Loesing brought the report of the United Methodist Men, who are involved in evangelism, spiritual, prayer advocacy, disaster response, prison ministry, and more.
- Black College Fund Intern Deontez Wimbley, a freshman from Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC addressed the conference on behalf of the Black College Fund.
- Conference voted to request that the SEJ episcopal committee return Bishop Mike Watson and his wife Margaret.
- Prior to 2016, each church must have parsonage inspected by a licensed home inspector in order to assist in any deficiency.
- Wesley Community Center programs aim to bring God’s abundance to senior citizens through Project Extend, Bethlehem Senior Center, and Project SOAR (Serving Our Aging Resoponsibly).
- United Methodist Women president Deloris Carhee brought news of how the UMW is turning faith, hope and love into action.
- 85 pints of blood were given at the Red Cross Blood Drive.
- Resolution was passed designating Epworth UMC of Epworth, Ga. as a historic site.
- Next year’s Annual Conference is set for June 11-13, 2013 at the Athens Classic Center
8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD, 7 and the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; only–you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 10 So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 11:14 Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship. 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the LORD, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly. [NRSV]
Erma Bombeck’s The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, McGraw-Hill, 1976., is a true observation. Things that look so good from one perspective have a foundation that hides some ugly facts.
It was during Annual Conference twenty years ago that I wrote a letter to then Governor, Zell Miller, sharing the eighth chapter of First Samuel with him as a warning that there are trade-offs, temptations and hidden costs to a state run lottery that I appealed to him as a fellow United Methodist to reconsider his support.
I never received a letter from the Gov. Miller nor his office. But in the past year when looked back at a score of the state’s poorest and least educated folks linning up multiple times each week to fund the demenishing scholarships promised to the state’s brightest students. Yes there are many great things that have been provided for kindergarten and college students alike. But at what cost?
Samuel’s first concern is very personal. He becomes aware that the majority, or at least the squeaky wheels, did not like the subjective and fluctuating leadership of judges and heros or heroins. The opposition wanted a king. And they didn’t want Samuel.
This next week marks the final week from some pastor’s and their families at their churches and some in their careers. In some cases both congregations and clergy want a change of leadership in hopes of getting what they are lacking, wether perceived or real. We want a change.
Change is not what we always hoped for. (Yes that is a political statement as well) Samuel first has to deal with the personal part of the complaints… The people have lost trust and Samuel had lost respect.
He goes to God and says, “What are you going to do about this mess?”
God sends Samuel to warn of the cost of change, the cost of a king, the cost now and the cost for future generations.
Samuel’s warning speaks to our generations today. We want our economy fixed, but they will cost someone a great deal at some point. It will cost the rich and the poor, the boss and the laborer. The owner, the investors, visitors and children’s children’s children.
When we skip ahead to the cost of building and maintaining King Solomon’s temple, projects, politics, festivals and lifestyle we see that it becomes corporately and completely unsustainable. If Samuel were still alive he would sing all seven verse of the great hymn of self-justification: #147 “I Told You So, You So in So.”
Now that is not actually a hymn but some folks live with hope of singing it, rather than looking at the need for changes in the world and reality and instead asking God a different Question: What is required to change? and What is required of we never change a thing?
The reality is the world was transforming and the nation of God’s people….. we don’t want change for the sake of change, we want what is Good… Good for God, Good for now and Good for the future.
The reality is that there is ALWAYS a cost.
Back to my lottery story, is that education will always cost money, yet spending money on education is not the only side of the coin, as we have the second highest spending out of every dollar and our result is in the bottom five percent of results.
God’s warning through Samuel is that the cost of good leadership will effect every part of life. No one will escape its reach. It is not simply one part of the community, but all parts of the community that will have an investment.
At the heart of this chapter of warning is a stewardship, economics lesson.
A secondary lesson is, the majority, the masses, the squeaky wheels, don’t always have it right.
Saul became the first king and his reign ended in jealousy, anger, and rage. Not good traits for any leader, king or president.
1Sam8 is window into the past that might help us learn for the present and the future:
The current leaders didn’t want to see the people were lacking
The people didn’t always know what they needed
The grass is greener over the septic tank, because the pretty is on the outside, under the hood is where things get messy.
They jumped in to what ‘they’ wanted without consulting God.
God lets them, and us, try to learn from our success and mistakes…
At stake is that we may never learn, if we never ask God to reveal what is best for us from God’s perspective and not just our own.
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” [NRSV]
Two score and four years ago I finished my first year of formal education at the Glenn Memorial UMC Preschool. Wooden blocks, gallons of finger paints and sturdy swings should have made any child thrilled to go to school. But I was not always happy to leave my parents and venture out on my own. Before the days fo zero tolerance my father would give me his pocket knife, a pair of nail clippers or a tube of Chapstick(TM) to keep as a remembrance that I would see him within a few hours and that he was always ‘in touch’ when I reached into my pocket for a bit of reassurance. To this day these treasures are endearing touch points exchanged as gifts with our family members that recall that faithfulness and closeness.
The prophet Isaiah shares a powerful vision of assurance, blessing and closeness as one willing even though he is not worthy.
His vision is grand. It is a portent like those of the prophet Ezekiel and the prose from the revelation to John. It comes at a time of political unrest and uncertainty. In the time of the absence of leadership, God steps up to send a true messenger of promise, encouragement and truth. Isaiah for President 2012?
Isaiah is not a politician. Though he is a not afraid to speak to the need for people to follow God. He is not hesitant to speak the true word. He is bold in a time when speaking dangerously is demanded.
The heart of Isaiah’s experience focuses on the “Why Me Question?”
Often times we ask the same question, “Why Me, Lord?”
- Why do I have to do the work that no one else will do?
- Why have I survived when so many others have failed or died?
- Why am I being asked to serve again and again?
- Why do I feel alone in this journey?
The answer is similar for all these WHY questions:
- ..because you are listening
- ..because you are available
- ..because you are in the right place at the right time for God
- ..because you have what it takes, even if you can’t see it
- ..because others are counting on your strength and faith in God
Do you hear Isaiah’s Questions?
- What do I have to say?
- What difference can I make?
- There are others who are more worthy than I.
God’s Answer for Isaiah and for us:
- I need you.
- I trust you.
- I will provide what you need.
- You can because I will make you able, even if your not ready.
- Yes, I will send you.
- Yes, You, and YOU and you too.
Pucker up! Get the Chapstick ready, God has Good News, Hard News and Saving Grace for you to share. Here comes the cleansing coal of grace.
For we are in a time of fear and a lack of clear leadership… as witnessed at General Conference and on the nightly news. God is counting on us. God is calling us. God is ready to speak through those who are willing to step forward and affirm,
- Here I am, send me.
- Here I am, cleans me.
- Here I am, I will speak up.
- Here We are, send us, now.
(Honduras Team is in the air 9a/on the ground 11a, we are here, we have heard, God is send us too. Practice:
- I am a witness and a messenger
- I am a prophet and have Good News to tell
- I am here, ready and able by God’s grace, Send me! Amen.