Is it Worth It?

Is it Worth It?

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was the one we are living into currently. Moving back to West Virginia was never a no-brainer discussion for myself or my family.

We were established in Kentucky. I was ordained in Kentucky and was becoming confident in my leadership and place within the structures there. Abbi and Noah, though familiar with West Virginia, had never lived here. To be honest it was a decision we went back and forth on for months, even going as far as submitting a letter to turn down the opportunity to come home.

What helped me to think through the decision was to make a list. Do you ever do that? Sometimes I’ll get out a sheet of paper, or just think it through in my head, and consider the positives and negatives of a certain decision. That process helps me to think through all of my options before making a major decision. It is a process that helps me to weigh the cost.

I wonder, did you do something like that before committing yourself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Before you said yes to following Jesus, did you take time to consider what this life meant, what was being asked of you as a follower of Jesus Christ, and truly wrestle with if you were willing to commit ourselves to this life? A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who makes a commitment to follow Jesus and who seeks to live out the desires Christ places upon us. Did you consider what that meant and its implications for your life? Continue reading “Is it Worth It?”

Living Our Commitments

Living Our Commitments

One of the things I love about introducing myself to a new congregation is that it gives you an opportunity to reflect on what is important to you. Each congregation wants to learn what I focus on, what is important to me in ministry, and where I believe God is leading us. That is important for the congregation to live into, but it is also important for me, as a pastor and follower of Christ, to reflect on and share.

There are many things that I value and hold as important in ministry. Among those is my belief that living sacramentally enables us to grow as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. This is more than just making sure that the church is celebrating communion and baptism. It is about living into their meaning and how they apply to our spiritual lives.

At our baptism, whether as an infant or an adult, we make a commitment to the witness of Christ, the church, and our fellowship with one another. Baptism is about entering into a covenant with God and other believers where we are identifying ourselves with the promises of God and desiring to live into a transformed life in Christ’s love.

In the United Methodist Church, we make a promise to be faithful to God as a response to God’s grace at work in our lives and desire to share God’s love in the world. That promise is lived out in specific ways through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

What do those commitments mean? How do we live them out? Continue reading “Living Our Commitments”

Sunday Sermon: Samuel’s Call

Every nation and people group have formative stories that describe the lives and rise to influence of some of their most influential leaders. Some of our greatest leaders, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have as part of their narratives stories from their childhoods, such as chopping down a cherry tree or living in a log cabin. They are as much a part of their legacy as their individual achievements.

Such is the case for many of the stories we will look at from 1-2 Samuel during this sermon series looking at the Life of David. They are the collection of the formative stories for Israel that were assembled in its present form around the time of the Exile. The stories of 1-2 Samuel describe how Israel moved from a group of tribes into a nation led by a king. They tell how David, a shepherd from Bethlehem, became the great military, political, and spiritual leader of his people. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Samuel’s Call”

Sunday Sermon: Living Out the Resurrection

We all have stories we love to tell. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Stories of memorable times with our family and friends. Stories where we were able to experience something that changed our life. Stories that must be told again and again. 

My guess is that few of us have a story anything like the stories Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could tell their friends and family. They were among the followers of Jesus who went with him as he traveled throughout Galilee. They saw his miracles of healing and the moments of great teaching that he did. They were there. 

More than that, though, this group of women were the first to witness some of the events that have changed the world. They were present at Golgotha when Jesus was crucified. A moment that changed the world as Jesus gave of his life for humanity’s sin. They were present later that Friday afternoon as Joseph of Arimathea and Niccodemus buried Jesus in a tomb located in a garden near where Jesus died.  Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Living Out the Resurrection”

Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 – Call

Nine years ago I had the greatest Jimmy John’s sandwich I have ever eaten. No other Jimmy John’s sandwich has compared to that one. 

What made the sandwich so great had nothing to do with the sandwich itself. It was your typical delicious Jimmy John’s sandwich. What made the sandwich great was the conversation that took place during the meal. Nine years ago this month, I sat at a Jimmy John’s in Chapel Hill, N.C., with my sandwich and chips, to tell one of my pastors that I felt a call to ordained ministry.  Continue reading “Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 – Call”