The Book of Reevaluation

I should keep better record of where I read things.  Who knows where I first saw this:

In one Peanuts comic strip Sally was struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was absorbed in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she remembered, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.”

Maybe someone should write a book of Reevaluation.  It would help a lot of us reflect on what we’ve been through and how we’re moving along in life.

Stay blessed…john

Do we still think so?

I don’t think I had ever paid attention to this hymn before, When the Church of Jesus. You know, it’s in the back of the hymnal–one of those newer ones.  Actually, it’s under the heading of “Called to God’s Mission.”

If you pay attention, you’ll see what a convicting truth that is.

When the Church of Jesus
Shuts its outer door,
Lest the roar of traffic
Drown the voice of prayer:
May our prayers, Lord, make us
Ten times more aware
That the world we banish
Is our Christian care.

 

If our hearts are lifted
Where devotion soars
High above this hungry
Suffering world of ours:
Lest our hymns should drug us
To forget its needs,
Forge our Christian worship
Into Christian deeds.

 

Lest the gifts we offer,
Money, talents, time,
Serve to salve our conscience
To our secret shame:
Lord, reprove, inspire us
By the way you give;
Teach us, dying Savior,
How true Christians live.

I pray that more of us get tired of hearing the church complain about how things used to be. You know the drill: more people used to go to church; people used to give to the church; church was a priority; faith was important; things were so perfect.

We’ve spent so much time complaining about them, that we never even realized what happened to us.  Somewhere along our way, we turned our backs on our communities.  Maybe it was because they didn’t look like us anymore.  Maybe we thought we had enough people in our churches.  Maybe we were just comfortable.

And now look at us.

Look at the world around us.

Could we have prevented every evil act from happening?  Could the church have really done anything meaningful for its communities?  Could the church have any bearing the world around it?

Well, When the Church of Jesus is hymn number 592 in The United Methodist Hymnal.  Hymn number 591 is Rescue the Perishing.  So, at least at some point, we thought so.

Stay blessed…john

Good sexual ethics start with this

Leave it to me to wait until the absolute latest to participate in a mandatory clergy sexual ethics training.  It wouldn’t have mattered what the training would have been; I still probably would have been one of the last ones.  At least there were about 20 others in my boat.

I don’t know what you think a training about clergy sexual ethics includes, but I’ve been to a few and I was sure I knew.

This time, however, I was surprised.  The often repeated element of the training was self care.

That’s right, clergy do the best job of protecting the sacred trust given to them by ensuring proper care of their own spiritual and emotional well being.  That means, among other things, taking sabbath and actually resting.  It includes spending more time with family; no, the ministry doesn’t need you 24/7.  Find a hobby.  Find a spiritual director.  Go to counseling.  Check yourself (before you wreck yourself and others).

I’ve been thinking about that all week.  It was a great reminder, and I’m sure it’s not just clergy that need to be reminded to care for themselves.  What are you doing for self care?

Stay blessed…john

My parenting regret

And just like that we have a child that has left the nest. That was an experience!

I’ve taken the last few days since our oldest daughter moved into her apartment–it’s close to us and she she lives with a family member–to reflect and I have found my one parenting regret.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t had mistakes in parenting, but those come with the territory.

Every since I’ve learned the value of prayer, I have prayed for my children. I have prayed for their health, their faith, their academics and everything else in between. Their lives have been covered in prayer, and not just by me.

My regret, however, is that even though I have prayed so much for them, I have not prayed enough with them.

They don’t know my prayers. They haven’t heard enough of their father’s words to God on their behalf. We haven’t prayed enough together. It’s something I would want them to do with their children, yet somehow I did not prioritize it enough with them. I’m saddened to think how many amensI have let go of and meaningful moments of quiet prayer.

I’m prepared to change that.  I’m encouraging you to do the same.

Stay blessed…john

A non-guilty Lent

I don’t recall where I was speeding hurrying to get, but I had been listening to the song Christ is Mine by CityAlight when I realized my gas tank wasn’t going to get me there.  Determined to find a place $.02 lower per gallon, I skipped a few gas stations before I finally stopped.

As I entered the parking lot and pulled alongside the pump, the bridge of the song hit me:

Come, rejoice now, O my soul
For his love is my reward
Fear is gone and hope is sure
Christ is mine forever!

Maybe you should listen to the song, too.

I had heard that song countless times before because I love CityAlight.  We’ve sang a few of their songs at worship in our church.  But there was something at that moment that brought me to tears.  Okay, not a full-on ugly cry, but a swelling in my eyes that was coupled with a smile on my face.

It had to be a gift from God.

It’s been a while since I’ve ditched the overly somber observance of Lent.  Yes, it is a time of repentance and reflection.  And I do those.  But I’ve learned that guilt isn’t a gift from God.  Jesus never said, “Repent and feel guilty about what you’re repented about.”  Rather, with repentance, God gives joy and peace.

In that moment that was something I received.

I hope Lent is a time you can experience those gifts as well.

Stay blessed…john