Running to Win

running legsToday I started a new routine.  At the encouragement of our lead pastor, I started running.  For those of you who know me, this probably seems like a stretch.  I know it is for me and one of the reasons I’m mentioning it is for accountability.  Not only am I running, but I’m going to try to eat better.  I’ve got to get a baseline weight, but I’ll start today by recording the miles run/walked to at the top of the right hand side.

Today, we ran/walked 1 mile — four times around the track.  Over half of that was running.  I feel pretty good — there are a few muscles complaining, but no pain, no gain.  As the Marines say, pain is just weakness leaving the body.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Beautiful Late Summer Weather

We are adjusting back to living further north.  The mornings are starting to get cool and darker.  The wake-up temps have been around 60 with highs in the high 70’s to low 80’s.  Lately, we have woken up to dew on the windows and have had to run the heat and defroster for a little while until the windows clear up.  And it’s not even Labor Day.

Jamming to the Oldies

I have been working on transferring some of my old albums and tapes to digital format.  Most of them are now stored on my hard drive.  I have burned a few to CD, so I can listen to them in the van.  Yesterday, I had a rare morning in the van without anyone else, so I cranked up Glad’s original album.  This album has long been out of print and was never re-released to CD.  It was great to listen to these songs — I was surprised how many of the lyrics I remembered.  It goes to show you how much you can retain from when you are young.

Student Ministries Kick-off

I continue to enjoy my new role as Worship Arts and Student Ministries Pastor.  I would ask for your prayers as Wednesday night we kick-off a brand new ministry at Parkway.  For the time being we are calling it Parkway Student Ministries.  I know it’s not very original.  It will use a format of 20 minutes of music, followed by some games and then about 30 minutes of teaching.  We are kicking off with a picnic.  I’m really looking forward to it and it sounds like the others are as well.

Capo Miscue!

On the worship front, we taught a new song “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace).”  We taught it as a call to worship.  Last week, we taught “Days of Elijah.”  The congregation caught on very quick to “Days”.  This song will take a bit more time.  This morning I did one of those dumb things guitar players do from time to time.  This was the first time I had ever done it and that was to place my capo on the wrong fret.  The plan was to play in Ab — I put my capo on the 2nd fret, putting the song in A.  I quickly realized my error and dropped it down to the 1st fret.  We recovered very well and the rest of the set was really good, including some great harmonies and accapella singing.

Turning a New Page

Tomorrow I try something completely new.  I will be starting a running routine.  Our lead pastor is a runner and is in good shape physically and he has encouraged me try running.  He gave me an encouraging article that encouraged everyone to try running.  It did say that at the start I would do more walking than running, but every bit of exercise helps.  I’m looking forward to getting fit and losing some much needed weight.  I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Redeeming the Time

I thought I would finish with this word of encouragement — to make the most of every opportunity that God has given us…Seize the Day!

Sunday Setlist

August 30, 2009 – 10:45 AM

Call to WorshipYou Are Holy (Prince of Peace) (Imboden/Rhoton)

Welcome and Announcements

Songs of Praise and Worship

You’re Worthy of My Praise (Ruis)

Come, Christians Join to Sing (Bateman)

I Sing Praises (MacAlmon)

In His Time (Ball)

Connecting in Prayer

Song of Worship

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus (Stead/Kirkpatrick)

Giving Back to God

Special Music – Ancient Words (DeShazo)

Worship Through God’s Word

Time of Commitment – While I’m Waiting (Waller)

Benediction

Vs.

This is post #2 in a Saturday series that I am calling Vs.

Trials vs. Temptation

I want to explore the idea of trials vs. temptations.  This contrast is set-up in James 1.

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c] and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

James tells us that we should consider troubles (or trials) an opportunity for joy.  I know this is not how our minds usually think.  In Job, his friends insisted that Job had done something wrong – not that Satan was testing Job.  Job insisted and insisted that he had done nothing wrong, and he hadn’t.  Why should we consider troubles or trials an opportunity for joy?  James gives us a hint.  When our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow and went it has grown to completion it will be fully developed.  Another way to say it is that trials help us grow in the faith – they help us mature.  James goes on to say that our maturity will be complete and perfect – not needing anything.

I know the word “perfect” is a tough concept for us to grasp and yet we are told at least once in the Old Testament and once again in the New Testament that we should be perfect as God is perfect.  Another translation for perfect is holy.  We should be holy as God is holy.  The life of holiness is one of perfection as John Wesley described it.  I guess the best way to describe it is as perfection not in execution but in motive.  We all know times in our lives when we had the right motive for doing something, but it turned out very bad.  Another term we could use is perfect love – love for God and love for fellow humans.  Trials help us become the people that God has called us to be.  Check out what Paul writes to the church in Rome.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Trials come to help us develop endurance – endurance produces strength of character, and character strengthens our hope of salvation.  Trials come from God to strengthen our faith.  Most of you have probably heard someone say, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”  If you’re reading this, you are still living – the things that you have gone through have or should have strengthened you.  That is the purpose of trials and troubles.

Let’s jump to the others side, the second part of the James passage.  If trials come from God, temptations do not.  James says that those who patiently endure testing and temptation will be blessed by God – and afterward those that love God will receive the promised crown of life.  James is very careful to state however that temptations do not come from God for God is never tempted to do wrong.  Some manuscripts say, God should not be put to test by evil people.  God is not involved in temptation.  Temptation we are told comes from our own desires.  Here is one of the major differences between trials and temptations.  Trials are from without, while temptations are from within.  Both can cause us distress and we can learn from both.

Temptation, however, is born from the desires within our heart.  These temptations drag us away from our relationship with Christ for one because they are tempting and they are enticing.  Isn’t that the way it always is with sin?  It is alluring, that is why it is difficult tough to stay away from.  But James tells us where temptations come from – they come from the desires of our heart – these desires lead to sinful actions and sinful actions, when allowed to grow, lead to death.  See the difference

Trials = are from without – they come to help us endure – strengthen our character — and give us hope of salvation.

Temptations – are from within – they lead to sin – sin leads to death.

The difference is key.  Christians can have victory over trials and we can also have victory over temptation.  One of the lessons learned here is that if we keep our heart clean – our desire to be tempted will be less – it doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials – the trials we will always have with us.

Remember the next time you are in trouble – determine is this a trial that will strengthen me or is it a temptation, designed to bring me down?

Weekly Lectionary Reading

200151767-001Proper 17

August 30, 2009

Song of Solomon 2:8-13  •  Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9  •  James 1:17-27  •  Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Pure and Genuine Religion

17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

This is one of those passages — if you’re like me — that you need to put on those steel toed shoes to read.  James gets to the heart of what religion is all about.  He has just finished writing to the church about trials vs. temptations.  (Sounds like a good topic for Saturday.)  James reminds his readers or his hearers — since this was meant to be read aloud — that what is good and perfect comes from the God.  God doesn’t change.  James is explaining what each believer needs to live a life that is pleasing to God.  Verse 19 is especially tough.  How many of us (including myself) like to speak first and listen later?  We get our priorities all out of order when we do that.  I’ve paraphrased it this way:  Be very quick to listen — be quiet when listening — don’t work up your reply while you are listening — be slow to speak — and be slower still to get angry.  James reminds us that we cannot listen if we are speaking.  This applies to our spiritual relationship with God and also applies to our relationship with those around us — family, friends, and enemies.  He goes on to explain that when we get angry, we are not living the life that God has called us to live.  I think he is especially addressing (again, me included) those who have a short fuse.  But there is a second thing here and that is when we have stuff that doesn’t belong — the things James says get rid of  (like filth and evil) in our lives, it typically manifests itself in anger.  Perhaps it is because we are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and we are upset at ourselves for getting into that position.  Perhaps the evil and filth is reason we are angry.

James tells us to accept the word of God, humbly, because the word of God has the power to save your soul.  One of the Wesleyan ideas on the Bible is that it contains all things necessary for salvation — it has the power to save your soul.  I think that’s pretty cool.  But we are reminded that if we simply listen — if we simply read God’s word and don’t act on it, it goes to waste.  I love the word picture James paints.  It is like going into the bathroom in the morning — looking at your face — seeing that scruffy beard — seeing all the hair out of place and not doing anything with it.  If we look carefully into God’s word — we look carefully in the mirror — and do what it tells us — God will set us on the right path.

James connects the controlling of the tongue to religion that is of worth and if you can’t control your tongue — he says your religion is worthless.  How many times has each one of us said something we regretted in a moment of anger — instead of listening — instead of speaking slowly?  We can tell when our heart is right — out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

What is the secret to pure and genuine (or as another translation puts it — lasting) religion?  It’s very simple — it echoes other passages in the Bible.  The secret is to take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and to refuse to let the world corrupt you.  In Deuteronomy 6:5, Israel is given this command:  “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one…love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.”  When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God will all of your heart, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength and the second is like it.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  This sums up all of the law and the prophets.”

Even the Ten Commandments speak to this dual nature of loving God and loving people.  Commands one through four are about our relationship with God, while commands 5 through 10 are about our relationship with those around us.  It is a theme that runs throughout God’s Word.  Here again it comes up in James — to take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  This is what it means to live a life that is pleasing to God.  Our desire to help people comes from the love that God has lavished on us.  We follow Christ’s example — he loved people — he loved us so much that He went to the cross — died for us — rose again for us — and is coming back again for those who are living according to His way.

Prayer

O Father of lights,

from whose word of truth
we have been born as firstfruits of your creatures:
make us quick to listen and slow to speak,
that the word implanted in us
may take root to nourish all our living,
and that we may be blessed in our doing and fruitful in action. Amen.

Blessings….

How Color Affects Our Mood

Dale and I are waiting to move in our new parsonage. One of the things that we have been working on is the colors we want the rooms to be painted. I had the children pick the colors for their room. Last week Anna and I were talking about the colors which are going to be in the house. As we were talking Anna was reading a magazine and came to an article on how colors affect our mood. This is not the first time I have heard about color psychology. I studied it in one of my psychology classes. I was telling someone about that colors can affect our moods. They thought I was nuts but Sunday the ladies at our church started talking about color psychology. So here are some of the things that can help you to know how colors will affect you.

Blue:

represents peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, cold, technology, and depression.

Green:

one of most-often cited favorite colors. It represents nature, environment, health, good luck, renewal, youth, vigor, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune. Its cool quality soothes, calms, and has great healing powers. It is often worn in operating rooms by surgeons.

Orange:

is a combination of yellow and red. Orange is considered a warm color like red, but to a lesser extent; orange expresses energy. It has luminous qualities and has been used for attention-getting purposes, such as on caution signs

Red:

is the color that we pay the most attention to. It is the warmest and most energetic color in the spectrum. We associate red with love, valentines, danger, desire, speed, strength, violence, anger, emergency exit signs, stop signs and blood. Red can evoke a fight-or-flight response, raise blood pressure and make the heart beat faster.

Yellow:

Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

Purple:

Purple has long been associated with royalty. It strongly symbolizes power, nobility, luxury and ambition. It conveys wealth and sometimes hints at extravagance. Purple is also associated with wisdom, dignity and independence. It is a powerful color in enhancing creativity, mystery and magic.

You may not believe in this kind of psychology. Who knows if this is all true but for me I know that having a red living room is a hard place to relax in. I also had dark brown living room in New York and it was the most depressing room to be in. I know the affect that colors have on my moods.