Friday, August 28, 2015

Rabbi Jesus, In the Temple, With the Ropes

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ambassador in Chains

         During college, I was a union laborer with a large construction company in Minneapolis. The job fully paid for all four years of college and introduced me to what it takes to build buildings. Since then I’ve been fascinated with construction and beg my way onto various sites to get tours.
         Recently I was invited to tour a local site but it required wearing a hard-hat. The only guy I knew in church with a hard-hat is Byron Beck from “Solid Rock Construction Company.” Byron agreed to lend me one of his blue, labeled hard-hats for the tour. As I walked through the building, I noticed other carpenters and workers looking at my hat with genuine curiosity. Was I there representing “Solid Rock?” Were their jobs in jeopardy? Clearly, it was not just a hard-hat, but represented a whole company in a competitive industry.
         When you walk into a situation; a job site, a store, a restaurant, whom do people see you representing? Who knows you are a follower of Jesus? In the text for Sunday, Ephesians 6:18-20, the Apostle Paul calls himself an ambassador.  He understands his identity and role to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ in every and all situations. As you prepare for Sunday worship, take your own inventory of the times and places you represented Jesus.

                                                               Grace & Peace,


1.              If you are willing to either read scripture on a Sunday morning or pray the prayer of dedication and intercession, I would really like to hear from you. The staff looks for pray-ers and readers for each Sunday and would like to have a wider pool of volunteers.
2.               Jon Lemmond continues teaching The History of World Christianity on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the Mountain Room of the Samarkand. The topic next week is “Why did Christians start killing Jews in the 12th century?”
3.              Connection Team members (and interested members) are invited to a breakfast on Sunday August 30 at 8:30 a.m.in Fellowship Hall.
4.              A College Lunch will be provided for incoming Westmont students. Alumni, faculty, staff and anyone interested in welcoming new students is invited to participate immediately following worship.
5.              Ginny Murray update. As I was preparing this email, John Murray called the church Friday morning with an update on Ginny. She has successfully gone through two procedures to remove abscess material from her pancreas. John asks for continued prayer for improved respiration, for her body to be strong for another abscess procedure, and the next steps of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.
6.              Budget Update as of August 20, 2015
Income Needed YTD:                             $474,749
Income Received (%YTD needed):         $350,553 (73.8%)

Expenses YTD (Deficit):                         $430,161 (-$79,608)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Rested Enough?

         A friend of mine just returned from a three-week trip in England, Germany, France and Italy. As he told me about his adventure, he said, “The French and Italian cultures do time differently than we do.” We talked for a while about the different ways different cultures practice time, from hyper punctuality to chronically late. Different cultures practice meal times differently, from long, slow meals, to hurriedly inhaled energy bars and power drinks.
         Different areas and cultures in the United States have different rhythms and time practices. Some of those practices are climate driven, by either extreme heat or cold. Other practices are light driven by long periods of daylight or darkness. Business cycles with crucial deadlines or production schedules determine where we spend our waking hours. And those who travel for work must budget airport lines and delays.
         The questions you can ponder in preparing for worship this Sunday are: How do you spend your time? What are your healthy rhythms and when do your rhythms and patterns get thrown out of sync? Who or what governs your time? How does God figure in to the way you spend your time?


Friday, July 10, 2015

Not Far

         “Old” has changed for me. Old used to be my father. But now I’m over his age when I thought he was old! An old building when I was growing up in Minnesota was something built in the early 1900’s or late 1800’s, until our family moved to Virginia where we saw buildings and sites from the 1700’s and earlier. That was old.
         When Martha and I took our first trip to Europe, and I had the chance to visit churches built in the 1100’s and some as old as 900 AD, I had a new appreciation for old. The stone floors of these sanctuaries were polished by centuries of different feet.
         Then I was able to take my first trip to Israel, and my clock of old moved back into the BC era and beyond Jesus into the Old Testament. Sites and geography dated thousands of years old. When we visited Jericho, the guide told us that it was probably the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, with evidence of human occupation back 10,000 years! Yikes! That’s old!
         But then I spent some time with our own David Martin, who is a geologist. He began to tell me about the formation of the Channel Islands and the up-surging hills and fossils in our rock strata. Oh my! And I haven’t talked with astronomers!!
         We are measurers. We measure dollars, pounds, miles, and inches. We establish goals and measure our progress formally and informally. A word used often in the realm of measuring is “metrics.” What are the metrics we use to measure….?
         In the text for Sunday worship (Mark 12:28-34) Jesus used very intriguing words for a teacher of the law’s response to him: “You are not far.” As you prepare for worship on Sunday, what do you measure spiritually?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where have you come from, where are you, and where are you going?

The altar-piece for this Sunday reflects the mission-theme at the 2015 Noah's Half-Day Camp at Montecito Covenant Church: Egypt. The trunk (root ball) speaks of our roots in both Egypt and the Old Testament. The Christ-candle is in the center the scene, anchoring the story. The papyrus shoots are a well-known plant in Egypt with a Coptic cross in the reeds. The green speaks about the life we have in and through Jesus against the lifelessnes of the brown trunk.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Friday, May 15, 2015

Fan It

         Moving, transitions and graduations bring a whole set of challenges. Something is over. Something new is beginning. Change is in the works. Uncertainty is in the air. Accomplishments are celebrated. Tokens are conferred. Tributes are given. New challenges are now in front of us. For some that will be a new school, a new location, and a new set of friends to get to know. For others it means a bigger shift in responsibility: a career, a task, a boss and professional challenges.
         I recently talked with a friend who was promoted from a support position in an organization to becoming the head of that organization. In a quiet and unguarded moment he whispered to me: “It was a lot easier to be in the second chair than now!” When he was in a support role, he second-guessed the leader, thinking he could easily do a better job, until that day came and now the full weight of the organization was upon him.
         On Sunday we are going to recognizes transitions and promotions like never before. Heather Shennum, Pam Beebe, Jon Lemmond and Shawn O’Brien will be acknowledging school promotions in our church. But Sunday is also Confirmation Sunday, which is a promotion of sorts, but something else. Confirmation Sunday is the transition into spiritual adulthood. Four young people will be making personal confessions of adult commitment to follow Jesus Christ. They are moving from second chair into first. The text for these confirmands will be II Timothy 1:3-7 where Paul exhorts young pastor Timothy to step up and make the faith his own. The image Paul uses for Timothy is to call him to “fan into flame the gift of God.” As you prepare for worship on Sunday, reflect on how you keep the flame fanned in your life.

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