Friday, August 31, 2007

I got the music in me

There is an old kids song entitled, "Jesus Put A Song In My Heart" that came to mind as I was walking into the Post Office this morning. I had my headphones on and my new ipod was playing Frankie Vallee's "Sherry Baby" as I stood in line. I felt a little foolish because I couldn't help myself as I swayed to the music. I must have looked a bit foolish but I was caught up in the music.

We had this old ipod sitting around the house since last Christmas. It was a casualty of my daughter's need to have a unit with a larger capacity. I kept thinking about claiming it and doing something with it but it seemed like to much work.

Now I wished I had claimed it a long time ago. It is great. It made me think about the number of people who sit on the fringe of church life. They see their friends and neighbors going to worship and living a faith filled life, but they don't take the initiative to try it our because it seems like too much work. They don't know what they are missing.

Well I got to put my headphones back on so I can listen to songs from Randy Travis, Three Dog Night and the Beetles that I imported last night.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

An up to date faith

I went out to get the mail today at church and a letter came addressed to my predecessor, Rev. Douglas Howell. I laughed when I saw it because Rev. Howell left here 24 years ago. Someone hadn't done their homework.

As I thought about it, I realized that the organization that sent the letter was founded five years after he left and there was no way he could have been aware of its existence. He left here for a position on the west coast and has only been back once. So how come he was getting letters from an organization he didn't even know existed? The answer was obvious. This group had bought a mailing list and their information was out of date.

It made me think about second hand faith. So many people inherit their faith from their parents. That's not a bad thing. Growing up in a church family is wonderful. The problem is that unless you have your own encounter with God, that faith will become old and outdated over time. The only thing that keeps our faith real is a daily walk with the Lord. If you do that you will never get something back marked "return to sender!"


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Making Precious Memories

Every year on my birthday my dad would let me take a friend to Riverside Park in Agawam, Mass. It was one of the highlights of my teen years. I loved riding the roller coasters and playing the games on the boardwalk. The Park seemed so big and there was so much to do. We would literally open and close the park. I loved my father for that.

On Monday I took my youngest daughter to Six Flags as a last fling before school starts. We rode a couple of rides and then went to the water park and attacked a few of the big water slides. We had a great time. As we were driving home I wondered what she would remember from this day.

Our memories are strange things. Sometimes it is the smallest details we remember and other times it is the broad brush strokes. As I think about the things I have done in my life, it is often the people who come back to me as much as the events. I think of and remember the people who cared for me and shared time with me.

I think that is why it is so important to spend time with family and friends. Too many of us have good intentions when it comes to family time. We have to turn the intentions into reality. The same is true with spending time with God. We need to set aside good quality time with God very week in prayer, worship and devotions. For this is where the true blessings in life lie. so what are you waiting for? Start today.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Born Again Fan

He was so cute. The little guy had on his Norwich Navigator hat and he was telling the little girl in the next seat that he was a gator now. "See my hat! See my hat! I'm a gator now." That four year old had just established himself as a member of the team. He wanted her to know that he was the real deal.

I chuckled to myself as I watched their interaction. She was impressed and it was all because he had a hat. It got me thinking about the symbols of our faith. What is it that makes us a Christian? Is it the cross around our neck or the fish on our car? Or is it something more than that? Sometimes we live life as if our whole faith life could be boiled down to some symbol. The truth is that our faith is not something we have it is who we are.

That little boy was a Navigator because he was a fan of the team not because of his hat. So it is with us too. We are Christians because Christ is in our hearts. It is that simple.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Carrying the heavy load

I didn't feel like waiting because the line was too long. So instead of waiting for the elevator I carried the mini refrigerator up four flights of stairs to my daughter's room at UCONN. I got to the top and felt pretty good. It was that macho type feeling where you had just done something no one else could do. I even chuckled to myself as I thought about telling my friends how tough I was to have carried a fridge that far.

I made one more trip up the stairs with a basket of clothes and I was done. That first trip had sapped me of all my strength. The problem was that there was still a lot of stuff to bring up the stairs.

It made me think of a lot of new Christians who are so fired up about their faith. They go all out for the first several months telling everyone they know about Jesus. They go to church two, three times a week. They attend Bible Studies, go to every church function, attend conferences and make the rest of us tired just by watching their enthusiasm. Then they flame out.

There has got to be a better way. I think we need to remember that we are in this for the long haul. Everything doesn't need to be done today. We have time. Our goal is not to finish first, it is to answer God's call and complete the job.

I decided to use the elevator to bring the rest of the stuff upstairs on Saturday. We waited in line for fifteen minutes and then fit all of Sarah's stuff on the elevator and we went up together. It was much easier and much more effective that way. So it is in our Christian calling as well.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

With God every day

I pulled out my prop for the Children's Story during worship only to discover that the batteries were dead. I was going to use my remote camera flash to talk about how we needed to be connected in order to walk, see, live, take pictures in the light. I quickly ran to my stash of batteries and no matter what I did the flash did not work.

My friend Matt gave me the remote flash a couple of years ago. I used it quite a bit in those first few months. Then I stopped using it. I don't know why. I just got involved in other things. Then I got a new camera and I didn't need it any more. As I struggled to get it to work so I could make my point, a thought hit me. I was making my point without even using the flash.

Some of us think we can enjoy a great relationship with God even though we never visit him or make time for him. We think that even if we slipped away or moved onto other things, we can rekindle the same warm relationship by simply showing up on his doorstep.

The truth is that a rich relationship with God takes place over time. The more time we spend with God, the deeper our communion grows with him. So don't put God on a shelf until you need him. spend a little time with God every day and you can be sure he will be there when you really do need him.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

You can go back

Yesterday I went to Ocean Beach with my daughter. It was the first time I have been back to that beach since I was a teenager in the 1970's. I was doing the "old guy" thing with Rachel and telling her all about my memories of Ocean Beach. She was very kind and at least pretended to listen.

When we got there I helped her set up on the beach and then took a stroll down memory lane. I wandered into the arcade. It looked much smaller than it did back then. The good news was that I could still play a pinball game for a quarter... and I did. I walked over to the pool and looked in as the memories flooded back to me. Every week I came down here with the Colchester rec department and it was great.

I know the owners might not want to hear this, but Ocean Beach hasn't changed much in thirty five years. It has received a few face lifts and undergone a few upgrades, but the essence of what was there when I was a child remains. It is a great place to swim and have good clean fun.

I think the same thing is true about church. Over the years we add new programs and our music changes but the love of god and the worship and adoration of our Lord has been and always will be the essence of what we find there.

So if you have been away from church for a while, why not come back and discover the joy of your youth.