Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Taking Inventory

This week, I returned from Mission trip to Coweta, OK and immediately began moving my office from one room to another at the church. I don't know how many times you may have moved your office, but it is really a chore to get that done. It is almost worse than moving into a new one on arrival at a new place to work. I discovered that I had become comfortable in my little office and when another room became available, it seemed like the thing to do. It is larger and quieter, so I thought I wouldn't have any trouble getting settled. Wrong! What I discovered was that moving required me to pack up and evaluate what to keep and what to store. I began to take inventory and then spent some time remembering what each item meant to me. Pictures, crosses, art work, not to mention files and books. Each of them has a story and those stories represent friends who have loved me. I suppose it is old hat so to speak to be reminded that it is a good thing to stop and take inventory of the things I own because that makes me take inventory of my life. You know, who I am and where I am going, that sort of thing. Mission trips do that for me too. When we travel to work for others, sleep in someone else's church and spend long hot days trying to make get the jobs done, life sometimes gets lost in the busyness and the things that we have and do. On arrival home, and after a good nap, there is time to reflect on what had just happened. And what happened in moving my office and working on a Mission trip is that my life is never the same for I am reminded that I am only here for a short period of time. So it isn't what I collect that makes me who I am, it is what I do with the time I have. What do you think? I'd love to talk with you about it, why not come by some Sunday and let's see if we can understand one another. Allen

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Longsuffering of Job

I use that title loosely because I don't really want to know what Job encountered in his experience. These past few weeks, I have been dealing with a case of the shingles. (does that make me a roofer?) I was diagnosed a couple of weeks before Mission Trip but after treatment by the Doctors, was able to attend Sr. High Mission Trip. I was thinking about my personal irritation with being sick this morning. I don't do sick very well. But then I don't know very many people who do. Being sick is not only an inconvenience it can be painful and downright uncomfortable. I haven't spent any time wondering why me or why now because sickness comes to everyone. We just have to endure it, make plans to get better and move on. But patience is not one of my virtues when it comes to being unable to do my work. However, I am reminded every time that the pain returns that I am human and that I am loved. My wife looks after me as best that she can. My co-workers on the Mission Trip looked after me as much as I let them. Members of the church have been praying for me and have sent cards and made calls. All-in-all I am aware of what love and support comes from a community of faith. I still don't like being sick but I know I am not going through this discomfort alone. They are even so kind as to say that the beard I have grown to cover up the spots on my face looks good. ( Some of these people need glasses!) Well, I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, given my nature, I'd rather be well. But perhaps being sick has its up side too. I have had some more time for a nap on occasion and I have had some time to think about my life and my work. If you have been sick and need to talk about it, why not come by the church. We meet every week and would love to share what God has done in our lives and who knows, you might get to share too. Have a beautiful week. Allen

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wonders

I have spent the past few days with some of God's special people. I am on a Mission Trip and have seen the hand of God move among teenagers, adults who work with teenagers, a community and the churches who are working together. We are in Coweta, OK and are participating in the Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission Senior High Mission trip. As Center Director, I get to work with all of the adults and youth who have come to serve Christ. I have seen youth give up a week of their precious summer time to come to a strange place to dig holes, build porches, cut hedges, paint walls and help those who could not help themselves. Then we also got to experience the presence of Christ through an elderly widower who needed a porch repaired and a disabled single woman trying to adopt four children. We met two young men, members of our host church who gave up their time off to make sure we were cared for as we served others. Wow! I'm not sure what you might expect on a blog site. I don't have anything controversial to discuss or any great revelations. I don't even have any provocative questions this week. All of us miss our families, some of us are sick, others are missing work,but each of us is experiencing the real meaning of serving where we are sent.
No great revelations, just a deep and abiding awareness of the grace of God. Look around and I'll just bet you will see the same thing around you too. I am grateful for the chance to serve our Lord. Amen.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Let Them Pray

Over the weekend, I watched a television worship service and then listened as the Pastor of the church explained about a problem he was aware of regarding US Chaplains. It seems that recently the Christian Chaplains had been instructed not to end their prayers "in Jesus' name." Apparently someone in the higher ranks was afraid that praying in Jesus' name might offend some other religions. Seems strange but the Christian Chaplains were told to pray Jewish prayers. Now the US military service has all sorts of chaplains, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and probably some other varieties. Each of them conducts services and ministers to all of their charges without trying to proselyte members. They simply offer pastoral care in their own tradition for persons who are hurting.

This article got my attention on a couple of levels. First, of course, is what would rankle most people's nerves, the singling out of Christian Chaplains for the wording of their prayers. Would not a Jewish prayer potentially offend a Christian? Or a Muslim prayer offend a Jew? The answer is obvious, of course that could happen. So why single out the Christian Chaplains? That wasn't made clear in the article. The Pastor was simply pointing out a new problem in our Military system and a new way of persecuting Christian ministers for doing their job.

On another level, I wondered if our prayers, to be in Jesus' name, needed to have those words at the end. I mean, doesn't prayer in Jesus' name have more to do with one's attitude and commitment than with the words at the end? Can a person who doesn't ever serve Jesus or pretend to have a relationship with Jesus, get further with God if he or she uses the "magic" words at the end of a prayer?

So, yes, I am concerned that someone would be so picky as to fire a US Navy Chaplain, who is a Christian, for praying "in Jesus' name." But I am also concerned by those who claim the name of Christian and never live as Jesus lived. What about you? Do you think being a Christian is about saying certain words or is it more about living as a disciple? I'd love to talk with you about it. Allen