Thursday, August 29, 2013

Link to my recent "Confessions" sermon . . .

Several people have requested the link to the video of my recent "Confessions" sermon on August 11th at FUMC-Grapevine, TX.   It is available through the TruthCasting website; however, you can go to the direct link by clicking HERE.

There has to be a song I can write about my hummingbird. 

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Project Fun is starting soon!

Our weekday after-school program, called "Project Fun," begins on Monday, September 9th with a little party for the volunteers followed by the arrival of the children who join us upon completion of their classes from area schools.

Food, art and crafts, fun Bible memorization . . . and this year . . . more music with me!

I am going to be attempting to be present at as many Project Fun events as I am able, guitar in hand.

I'm really, really looking forward to it!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I will be singing this fall at a new venue . . .

On Monday, September 9th, I will provide music entertainment for the residents of the Dancing Rivers community here in Grapevine.  I will be doing two music sessions that morning, the first at 10 AM in the Memory Unit, followed by one of my standard programs in the main building at 10:30 AM. 

Several members of our church reside at Dancing Rivers, and I must say that I was very impressed with the facility and staff in my tour today, especially with their Life Enrichment Director, Jill Jurena.  She is truly called to be doing the work she is doing there. 

Except for our Vacation Bible School here at the church in late June, and the couple of times I sang during Chapel services and in performances with the Wannabe Band at Philmont, I have otherwise refrained from accepting a full singing schedule this summer . . . for no other reason than a bit of soul care for myself while ending up cancer treatment. 

Aww . . . mostly I didn't sing because I knew I would be doing it out of a sense of duty . . . not because I wanted to. 

Part of what I learned about myself at Philmont, and in the weeks since as I processed that experience in my mind, heart and soul . . . is that I truly do very much want to sing for people . . . not to them. 

Singing is a way of serving people . . . some may not agree or see it the same way as I do.  That's OK.  My call is to serve . . . and singing for people in nursing homes, retirement centers, for hospice patients, for children or adults in hospitals, in area libraries, for groups at the church . . . it's one of the ways I enjoy serving others. 

I believe music is a blessing for those listening . . . and also a blessing to me. 

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Something good to know . . . StopHungerNow.org

I am very glad to be provided some good information today from a friend about a group called StopHungerNow.org.  They are one of the mission partners of our National United Methodist Men's ministry, and are supported by churches of all denominations, and by many Scout troops. 

I've been looking for another cause to offer some of my time to, perhaps to raise funds for through a community talent show.  Working to feed hungry children in our world is worthy of everyone's time and attention.

I will be sharing more about this in the future . . . so, more to come.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

iPad . . . what have you done for me lately?

IK Multimedia is a company that manufactures and sells different accessories for musicians to use with iPads and iPhones.

Since I claim to be a musician, and since I have an iPad, I thought I would give a few of their products a try since they were advertising a "B-Stock" (blemished/returns) sale.

I purchased the iKlip, the iRig, and the iMic.

I had already purchased their iRig Pre, which allows you to plug a standard microphone into your iPad.  The iMic ( http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigmic/ ) is a microphone that plugs into the iPad without having to carry a second accessory.  We will see if it works well for recording, and for recording my blogs more often by "voice."

The iKlip ( http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/iklip2/ )is a little ingenious thing that holds your iPad onto a microphone stand in various positions depending on what you are using the iPad for.  Since I have most of my song music in the Pages app on my iPad, I thought I could use the iPad instead of carrying a big 3-ring notebook and a music stand.  I tried it out just now, and I like it a lot.  I think it's going to work.  I've seen singers and musicians use several variations of the iKlip when they performed at venues I frequent, mostly for singer guitarists who sing at restaurants.  If it means less to carry, and helps me justify the money I spent on the iPad in the first place . . . then let's go!

The iRig ( http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irig/ )  allows you to plug your guitar into your iPad, to record or to use the iPad as a pedal board with various guitar player apps.  Not sure how it's going to work with acoustic guitar. I will share that info later.

Hope the learning curve on all this is easy.  More to come.

God's graces till amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Things I came away with from New Mexico . . .

I did a lot of thinking during the 60-90 seconds the hummingbird sat on my finger at Philmont in July.

I've done a lot of thinking afterwards about all that I thought about.

First . . .

I am not the center of the universe.   The world does not revolve around me.  My many attempts to make the world where it does revolve around me have failed miserably over the years.

What I was humbled by most in this was coming to understand the level of arrogance that people have who live like they are the center of the world.   I know this, in part, from a lot of first hand experience being the one who was acting arrogant.   My family and friends can all remember those days.  In the past 9-10 years, I have moved away from living like that a majority of the time.

At least I hope I have.

Second . . .

I believe that God is FOR everyone.   The more I read, re-read and re-read John 3:16, the more I understand that God is FOR everyone . . . something that doesn't often get shared enough.

Actually, I think some people have never heard this in their entire lives.  God is FOR them.

Part of this is related to my first point.  When I have lived life fully focused on believing that the world revolved around me . . . it seems I was always trying to point out similarities and differences . . . to my advantage and to other people's detriment.  And . . . I figured I did so because I felt like I was always having to prove myself.   I think people who believe that the world revolves around them do spend a lot of time in their lives trying to prove themselves, that they are worthy of love, to other people and to God.

I believe that God loves all of us . . . desires a relationship with all of us . . . and will meet all of us within the dirtiest contexts of the real lives we live through Jesus Christ.

Third . . .

The opposite of living like the world revolves around you is choosing to live everyday with a servant-spirit.   Having a servant-spirit is the "180" of living life like you have to have everything going your way.

This 3rd point is the one I have spent the most time thinking about.  One goal I set in going to Philmont was to "clarify" if what I am doing now in ministry "matched" what I felt I was called to do back when I was in my teens, when I first felt a call to ministry in my heart.

What I have been able to clarify, is that my calling was "to serve others."  It seems I am happiest, content, and feel closest to God when I am serving others . . . as a pastor, as a counselor, as a singer and musician, serving as a community chaplain, or calling bingo.  As a servant, I personally enjoy ministry on the "the fringe."  I don't have to be the front person.  I enjoy working in gray areas of ministry . . . with the people who live in the gray areas.   My personal and spiritual strengths are very suited for this type of service.

More to come . . .

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A defining moment ...
















One of the defining moments during my time in New Mexico this past July was during the taking of this picture. 

I had just finished the Saturday evening Back-Country Protestant Chapel service at Cimarroncito Camp at Philmont.  On the porch of the staff cabin were several hummingbird feeders, which were actively being circled about by at least a dozen different hummingbirds.

One of the staff members advised me to put my finger up to one of the feeders, and then told me to "stay really still."

After a couple of moments, this little female hummingbird came to rest on my finger, and began to feed without hint of any threat.  She stayed there for about a minute . . .  perhaps one of the longest minutes of my life.

Awesome.

The finger the hummingbird was sitting on was the pointy finger of my right hand.  It's the finger I use to point at people, things, the line on a map, etc.

When people ask me for directions, I usually point with this finger.

When someone isn't paying a attention (and should be), I sometimes point with this finger.

When I am making a point in a meeting or discussion with others, and I am saying something I believe to be important, I will tap or "thunk" the table with this finger (the proverbial "driving home the point" gesture).

And, when I serve others . . . this finger comes to play as well . . . for it is on my dominant hand, my right hand . . . the hand I extend to others.

This Sunday I am going to be preaching at the downtown campus at FUMC-Grapevine.  We are in the middle of a sermon series titled, "Confessions from the Pastors."  My confessions will be that for many years I thought the world revolved around me.

That all changed the day I came to realize that God is for EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.  On that day, I began looking at others not as different from me . . . but as my brothers and sisters, the children of a loving God.   On that day, I began to see that my narrow and selfish focus on my needs was blinding me to the needs of others that I could do something about.  On that day was born the "servant spirit" I try to live with on a daily basis.

I hope in the process . . . that the finger I pointed at others, as a way to declare how they were different, and how I was better . . . has become part of the hand that serves others as often as possible.

During the taking of the picture above, I came to understand that I was actually serving a little female hummingbird.  The tenderness of the moment struck my heart and soul deeply.  I'm 6'6" tall, and weigh in the 280's.   I hope you can imagine in your mind the picture . . .

A really big guy . . . serving a tiny little hummingbird.

A very humbling experience.  I hope I am man enough, as a person of faith and as a pastor, to take the time to learn the lesson I had the opportunity to learn that day.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It is "really" good to be back home . . .

Ain't it good . . . to be back home again! (Oh yes it is . . .)
Sometimes, this ol' farm feels like a long lost friend.
Oh ain't it good, to be back home again.
Oh ain't it good . . . to be back home . . . again . . .

Not sure my home would be ever considered a farm, although we do have a lot of plants and vegetables in pots here and there . . .

But, for the record, it is sure good to be home again.

Heck, I don't even mind the temperature (100+ degrees today) . . . the temperature doesn't matter when you are home.

It was good to be back helping lead worship at the downtown campus . . . and I was reminded that I preach the next two Sundays . . . time to get back into work time.  "Leave time" is over.

I will spend some time later this week putting down some thoughts about my time away.  I came away with several "take-a-ways," . . . not sure that they aren't any different from past "take-a-ways" after other periods of vacation or time away . . . but several seem to be sticking in my mind a lot longer than normal. 

More to come . . .

It really is good to be home.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>