Friday, September 18, 2015


All week I’ve been asking different people: How do you compete? The responses have been very interesting. Some told me that they are basically non-competitive; avoiding sports and win/lose games. But when I pushed them about how they measured success or expertise, I heard stories about degree achievement, software innovation, or scrabble scores. I compete in cold-weather stories and can hardly restrain myself from talking about snow and ice.
         I asked a woman how she sees women compete and the instant answer was the house. She prided herself on having a clean house. Some people compete with the latest technology or newest appliances. I think we all compete, have success measurements and desire to do well. In the text for Sunday, Mark 9:30-37, Jesus observed his disciples competing with each other, and instead of criticizing it, he redirects it.
         As you prepare for worship, take a look at your own areas of competition. If you’re open to it, send me an email about your unique competitive streak and I might share it (clearly without mentioning your name!). 


Friday, September 04, 2015

Beyond the Borders

         Between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I spent a year living in Tokyo Japan as a short-term missionary with the Evangelical Covenant Church. I lived in a seminary dormitory with Japanese men training for ministry. I ate evening meals with a missionary family, but breakfast and lunch with the students. The program immersed me in language training for the first seven weeks, six hours per day, five days a week. By the end, I had a vocabulary of a five year old boy, functional but not deep.
         Japan was a wonderful place to live. I learned to eat many new foods, handle chopsticks, take hot baths, sleep on straw mats, and wear kimonos. I could carry on simple conversations and sing songs in worship. But try as I might, I was still called gai-jin. That’s the word for “foreigner.” I was different physically and culturally. I would always be an outsider, though loved and respected.
         When have you been aware that you were the foreigner? When were those times you experienced treatment as a second-class citizen, a perpetual outsider? Most of us have had an experience like that sometime in our lives.
         In the text for Sunday, Mark 7:24-37, Jesus is approached by two distinct outsiders. Read it before you come to church and look for the ways that Jesus crosses some very distinct borders to bring good news.

                                                               Grace & Peace,


1.              The Fall Family Kick-Off happens Sunday evening from 5:00 -7:00 p.m. all over the campus. There will be bounce houses for little ones, games for older ones, food for everyone ($2 tacos from Super Cucas)! Parents will be informed about MCC ministries for children and youth. And everyone will have fun!
2.              The class Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jesus will begin Sunday, September 13 at 9:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Taught by Dr. Bruce Fisk, childcare will be provided for preschool-6th grade. Jr. & Sr. High students will meet in the Outback.
3.              Samarkand Summer Institute: The History of World Christianity continues on Wednesdays from 10:30-11:30 a.m. The topic Jon Lemmond will address on September 9 is “Women Mystics in the Medieval Period.”

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