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From the Pastor's Desk


Lee.jpgChange is in the Air!

As I write this, it is the last week of August.  It was just a little over a week ago that we had a couple of days with afternoon temperatures of 97 degrees.  Now we are expecting temperatures in the 78- to 83-degree range.  This is a welcome change to me and probably to most of you.  While warmer temperatures will return, as we get closer to autumn, we know they will not stick around very long.  Yes, winter will be here before we know it or want it.

I think we are very fortunate to live in central Kentucky.  Our summers are usually not really hot and our winters are usually not really cold.  We also have beautiful springs and falls as the new flowers bloom and the old leaves change color and drop from the trees.

By now, all of the public schools have started a new year and most of the colleges are back in session.  In a changed schedule, UK started classes on Monday this semester instead of Wednesday because they are adding a fall break.

Our church building is about to have a lot more activity within it.  The Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts will be here more regularly now that school is in session (two to three Thursdays each month).  And the Music Works division of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra will be filling our basement and second floor with their music once again.  They are changing schedules to four afternoons a week instead of five, but there are supposed to be more kids participating this year.  It is great having these young people using our facilities.

I was at Cracker Barrel this week and almost bumped into the Christmas tree that is right at the entrance.  I have yet to put my tree up, how about you?  That is one change I am not so thrilled with - Christmas displays in August.  If the Christian part of Christmas would come this early, I might be a little more accepting, but while the stores are busier, the churches are not.

This year, let’s use Christmas as an excuse a reason to invite some family, friends, and neighbors to worship with us.

More change next month.


Random Thoughts

Have you ever hit a mental block in creativity?  You know - you are wanting to paint a picture and no subject come to mind.  Or you are in the middle of writing a story and suddenly you have no idea where to take the plot.  It happens to ministers, too.  We are sometimes unable to put a sermon together - or a newsletter article.  I found myself blocked out of ideas for this column.  After several false starts I gave up.  The morning before I needed to print and mail, I woke up about 3:00 o’clock and decided to use some sermon points from recent Sunday worship services.  If you were here, you may remember them.  If you were not here, this is something you missed.  (Pardon the grammar and punctuation.  My sermon notes are not intended to be read by others.)

From July 21:
The scripture:  Luke 10:38-42
The sermon title:  "A Good Choice"

Martha chose the busywork.  One of the problems with busy work is it tends to eliminate the choice of worshiping with Jesus.  Martha was scurrying around the house trying to make everything perfect for her Lord.  And let's face it, how many of us would have not done the same thing?  How many times have you said something like, "I would love to invite Wanda over for dinner but my house is such a mess."  If Wanda was a good friend she wouldn't care if your house was a mess.  She would certainly enjoy your company.  But, Martha didn’t want Jesus to see her mess.

Do you think Jesus minds coming into a life that is a mess?  Do we have to have our act together, all of our ducks in a row, before we can invite Jesus into our lives?  I think that day, Jesus would have preferred moving the newspaper off the couch so he could sit down and eating a bologna sandwich, all beef of course, and drinking his Dr Pepper out of the can because there were no clean glasses and having Martha in the room with him.  But Martha made the choice that many of us would have.  And if you notice, Jesus did not chastise her for that decision.  Instead he told her that Mary had just made a better choice than she had.

You see, the world, the church, our families, all need Marthas.  But Martha's need to have some Mary in them first.  We have to develop our relationship with Jesus.  We have to spend time with Jesus, while that opportunity is there.  That was Martha’s mistake - she had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be close with Jesus, and she chose to let it pass while she did something else.  After we have let Mary be our guide, we can then use that Mary-in-us to guide the Martha-in-us.  We can’t just believe in Jesus and not do what He wants us to do.

Almost every time there is discussion about why so many churches are shrinking, the word soccer comes up.  But it’s also baseball and basketball and swimming and volleyball and many other activities that church people have allowed the world to put in between families and church worship.  If enough Christians had chosen to say "No, my kids will not play on Sunday morning," there would not be so many Sunday morning games.  But we have let busyness overcome faithfulness.  It isn’t wrong to be a good host or hostess.  But it is not right when it keeps you from worshipping.  If you have weekend guests, they need to be in worship with you.  What kind of a friend would care for earthly needs and ignore heavenly needs?  If you are visiting, encourage your hosts to take you to church with them instead of staying home with you.

At board meeting last week I read from a list of 59 things you should never tell a preacher.  One of them was, "Listen to this tape of the minister I heard on vacation."  I said, "I would love to hear that because I hope you would worship on vacation."

This Mary and Martha story is not about no-faith versus faith.  It is about choosing to live your faith instead of just having faith.  Choose wisely.

From July 29:
The scripture:  Luke 11:1-13
The sermon title: "Pray Like This"

To demonstrate why we don’t just casually pray to God, Jesus tells another of his wonderful stories.  And it is an important lesson on how to pray.  We are not supposed to treat God like we treat the kid working behind the counter at McDonald's.  We don't say, "God, I want a Big Mac and a chocolate milkshake" and expect our order to be given to us in a matter of minutes.  It is sometimes a difficult thing to realize and to accept, that God works on God's time and not our time.  When we don’t think we have been answered, we are not supposed to give up.  Continual praying keeps what we are praying about at the front of our thoughts.  But people get sidetracked and give up.  As our world has grown more and more to expect instant gratification, there are more and more people who are willing to give up on God, because God does not work in their time frame.

Jesus asks his disciples a couple of questions. If your kid asked for a fish would you give him a snake?  And if your kid asks for an egg would you give him a scorpion?  Then he explains that even though we are not good, we know to give good things to our kids.  So, how much better would our God, who is good, be in giving us good things?  I don't know if you noticed, Jesus didn't say God would give you a fish if you ask for a fish.  And he didn't say God would give you an egg if you asked for an egg.  God doesn't always answer our prayers exactly the way we ask them to be answered.  God has a better way.

How many of you have ever prayed to God that someone you love would not die?  We are pretty much asking God to perform a Lazarus-like miracle aren't we?  And how many times do you think God failed to answer your prayers because that person did die?  Even as Christians, it is not always easy to realize that, even though their earthly body died, God has kept them alive spiritually and is still caring for them.

Give praise to God’s glory.  Admit you need God as a provider.  Ask for what you need.  Accept God’s forgiveness.  God has the best way to answer our prayers.