As I continue to serve, learn, and grow within my relationship with Christ, I am continuing to be amazed at how much awareness I have to my surroundings and the plight of others. I believe that I have always been observant of what goes on around me, yet I am realizing that I have been blind to a lot of situations too.
A few weeks my son came home sick from school. Fortunately, as a freelance creative communications consultant, seminary student and a pastor, I have some flexibility in my schedule each week. I was unable to get my son an appointment at our family physician’s office, so I decided to take him to the local Prompt Care Doctor’s Clinic. We arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the day during the middle of the week. The waiting area was full with almost every seat taken.
As I sat there with my son, we were both talking and using our smart phones to pass the time. I was checking email messages, reading ahead for sermon preparation, and reading the headlines on the news. After a while, I noticed that I kept hearing individuals walk up to the main window and the front of the office and ask, “How long will the wait be?” After a while, I seemed to keep hearing that question being continually asked. And, as my son and I kept waiting there, I noticed that it had been close to an hour and we still were not in an exam room to be seen by anyone.
Finally, after about an hour of waiting, we were called back into an exam room. Once we were in the room, a nurse came in, asked a few questions of my son and how he was feeling, she then took his blood pressure, weight, height, and checked his pulse and then she left and said, “A doctor will be in soon to see you.”
However, after a few long minutes, my son and I talked for a while and then both went back to our smart phones to pass the time. And time kept ticking by… and by… and by! We sat in the exam room for nearly forty minutes before the doctor came into see my son. I have to say that by this time, I was fairly agitated, but I kept my calm and was respectful with the doctor and staff. The doctor spent about five minutes with my son, said he had a sinus infection, gave us a prescription for antibiotics, and we were finally out the door.
As we were leaving the clinic, I saw a young mother and her two young children at the bus stop by the clinic and realized I had seen them earlier in the waiting room. I thought to myself, here I am with my son with my own car and some basic flexibility in my work week, and there is a Mother who is using the transit system to get around who is completely at the mercy of others.
The more I thought about this young Mother’s situation, the more I realized just how lucky I am. For me, I have a modest part-time Pastor’s salary, some freelance money that I earn, and a wife who works full-time with medical and dental benefits for our entire family of six. I have flexibility during basic parts of my work week in case of family needs, such as taking one of my kids to see the doctor. As I thought about how long my son and I had to wait to get into the clinic to see a doctor, I could not help to think what it must be like for this young Mother and so many others who rely on clinics to see a doctor to take care of their needs.
However, for many of these individuals, they work hourly paid jobs and when they are trying to take their child to see a doctor as I was, they had to use public transportation as well as wait in a clinic to be seen. But for me, I am still being paid the same amount of money as I take care of my child. This particular young Mother or someone else, would not be paid for the hours missed as they take care of their sick child.
We are surrounded by individuals who carry a much heavier burden upon their shoulders. Yet, as we all shop at the grocery story, or sit in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, or perhaps buy a burger at McDonalds, we do not see what is happening in the background of those around us. The stress, worries, anxiety, or pressure of trying to keep up with their basic family needs with a sense of dignity.
It is my prayer for myself, as well as my children whom I will continue to share life lessons, that we will never forget how short our wait in life is compared to others who have far more burdens than what we may carry. In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I read this passage much differently now. May God be with all those who try to manage so many challenges, and may they feel the presence of God’s grace and love surround them with an overpowering strength each week when they are asking, “How long will the wait be?”
Blessings, Pastor Kevin
Colossians 1:11 says…
“being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,”
Any marathon runner will tell you it's not about running the race, but how you pace yourself during the long and grueling journey. We have all endured a horrible hurricane. Many still do not have power, some have damage to their homes, some are still staying with friends or family.
And some, like myself, have waited in line for an hour or more to buy gasoline for their cars or generators. We all are being tested to endure, to be patient, to have faith... as linesmen clean up debris from fallen trees to get power back on... stores to restock their shelves... as gasoline trucks and emergency responders move throughout the entire state. And... as volunteers continue to work in shelters around the area.
As of today, the church has no electricity, but is in good shape. We will have a special Prayer Service this Sunday, September 17th in the Memorial Garden at 9:30 a.m. There will be no choir practice or potluck this Sunday, but we will come together as the community of Christ... Bear Lake UMC at 9:30.
Please continue to pray for each other and know that the strength, grace, and the living presence of Christ is with you during these days of endurance.
Blessings and peace, Pastor K
Psalm 104:33 says...
"I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."
A few days ago our nation was able to witness one of God's great natural wonders of the cosmos with a total solar eclipse. People grew more excited as the big day was arriving. Individuals and families traveled all across the country and some from other nations. People journeyed toward the best location in the middle of the United States to witness this amazing event.
As I thought about all the people in celebration and excitement to witness the solar eclipse, I can't help but wonder... what would our nation and our world look like if people showed that kind of excitement about Christ. Part of the reason that the solar eclipse was a big deal, was the excitement from others talking about the upcoming event. It was an excitement which was contagious!
As followers of Jesus, this is the same excitement we should be sharing with those around us. We each have seen Jesus at work within our lives and have experienced the joy of a life Christ. Let us today and everyday, sing praises to God as long as we live, and share this excitement with those around us... so others will want to see... and experience a life with Jesus Christ too. Amen.
A few years ago, during a worship service, I had a special guest speaker, Mr. Eric Lamoray, from Island Mission Support ministry. He and his wife Mary, are missionaries who have spent many years of their life in areas of the Pacific Islands. Eric shared how Bibles printed in the language of other cultures have changed thousands of people. The love of God, the truth of Jesus, coming alive for so many from the simple pages of a book that we all usually take for granted. Many of the individuals that Eric and Mary have witnessed to have been elderly people who never had their own Bible until they received one from Eric and Mary.
The stories that Eric shared were amazing and reminded us that we all need to be in the business of Disciple Making. We often forget that we are all Called to spread the Good News and witness to the world. God has place each of us in the right place at the right time. It’s up to us to do our part.
Leroy Eims, author of the book, The Lost Art of Disciple Making, shares this story. One spring our family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. “I’m sorry,” the waitress said. “I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken.” At first I was dumbfounded. We were surrounded by millions of oranges, and I knew they had oranges in the kitchen--orange slices garnished our plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. We were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it.
Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, they would have no nourishment for their souls. The problem is not a lack of spiritual food--but that many Christians haven’t grown enough to know how to get it for themselves.
As I say at the beginning of each worship that I lead, it is truly my belief that God has a reason and a purpose for each of us, and none of us are here by accident. May you feel the grace, love, courage, and strength of God surround you as you boldly share the Good News of Jesus to everyone you meet.
Whether you are at the grocery story, school, office, gasoline station, or just taking a walk in your neighborhood, God places people around you all the time where you have the change to be the example of Christ in all of your actions. Let’s do all we can to “be the church” and help to make this a Christ-Like world!
Blessings! -Pastor Kevin
One of my favorite places that Carla and I love to visit is Key West, Florida. It is a great place to relax and escape the realities and stresses of life. One of the main attractions in Key West is to watch the sunset at a pier around Mallory Square. The water is bright blue and goes as far as the eye can see with the sun and clouds cascading into the ocean at the horizon. Years ago on one of our trips to Key West we were enjoying the sunset when we observed something interesting. Miles away in the west there was a large storm front that was moving to the South.
Right down the middle of the sky straight in front of us on the horizon was a dark gray sky on the left with a bright sunset on the right. It was like someone had taken a photograph and spliced it together at the horizon. It was one of the most amazing and beautiful events that I have witnessed in nature. The colors of the dark gray sky on one side against the bright orange and red sky of the other side were breathtaking with no pictures great enough to really appreciate.
This image has always stayed with me through my life. They are so many times when we can feel caught up in hopelessness and despair. There are situations in life where we can get caught in the darkness and loose sight of where we are. Yet, when we focus on God and simply turn another direction, our lives become brighter and filled with promise. We are reminded at the season of fall approaches, that we are entering a new season where the past is behind us and the spirit of hope is in front of us. May the peace of God and the beauty beyond the sunsets be with you during this fall as we move forward with activities here at church as well as throughout our community at local school events. Let us invite others to worship with us as we celebrate the newness of life and the promise of life eternal through a Jesus Christ who brings light into a dark world.
Blessings in all you do!
Part of the area of growth for me as I have been an intern for the POLIS Institute this semester has been in my appreciation for the blessings in my life. I think I do a decent job of thanking God for what I have in my life and that I value the opportunities that I have. However, there are times when I learn a new lesson and sometimes, those lessons are painful.
A few weeks ago, I needed to get some work done on my car. Now, my Mother was going to pick me up after I dropped the car off early that particular morning once my kids were at school. However, my Mother called and said she forgot about a doctor’s appointment she had to take my Dad to. So, I said, “not a problem at all”. It was a beautiful morning and my house was only about three miles away and so I just decided to walk home. I knew that my car was going to be at the mechanic’s garage all day and I would just have my oldest son drive me there in the afternoon once he was home from school.
I was about half way home when I realized that my loafers that I had just slipped on before leaving the house earlier in the morning were not the best walking shoes. Before long, I noticed my heels were starting to hurt. And with about a mile to go, I finally realized that my heels were really sore. I stopped and took my shoes off only to be shocked to see that both of my heels were bleeding. I had rubbed the skin raw off of my heels not realizing that the pain I was feeling was there for a reason and that I should have taken a look at my feet a lot sooner than I did!
As I continued my journey, I pushed down the back of the shoes so that my heels would not touch them and started walking on my shoes like “make-shift flip flops”. I finally made it home and immediately went into my bathroom and dressed my wounds and then got a large glass of water and relaxed in my recliner and turned on mindless television. As I sat there for a while, with my heels still hurting, I thought about the homeless guys that I had seen many time around the area of Orlando where the POLIS Institute office is located. I wondered how many of those guys had rubbed there feet raw from bad shoes as they were out walking all day and all week. I wondered, “Where do they get their medicine and Band-Aid’s for their feet… for their heels?” As I thought about this situation, I started to get just a brief glimpse of what these guys must go through every day. As my heels were hurting, at least I had different shoes to put on and I had medicine on my wounds as well as a nice comfortable recliner and air conditioning around me.
As I continued to serve in my internship and my pastoral ministry, I pray that God will continue to open my eyes and aching feet to the needs of others. May the heels on my feet always be a reminder, of what it says in Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
During the past few months, I have been doing some ministry with The POLIS Institute in Orlando, Florida, Over my time in ministry with this organization that helps bring dignity and share the love of Christ to so many throughout the Orlando area, I am amazed at how much I took for granted as a white male in this country. I have known for some time that I am automatically elevated to a higher status in the United States because of my race. Even without trying or wanting to be elevated in any way by how I am perceived or viewed by someone else, I am.
The POLIS Institute works at building the fundamental worth of a human being and points out and empowers others to reverse the indignities that they face within their communities. As a person who has always thought of himself as very open minded and not racist at all, I was reminded the other day that I am just as guilty as the next person.
I was walking in downtown Sanford the other day and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young African-American man with his pants saggy far below his rear end. Immediately, I was stereotyping this young man for what I perceived was his personality and that he was just some young guy up to no good. Then the next moment, I caught sight of two little boys around three years old running toward this young many giggling and laughing as they were playing. I realized that this young man was their father and he was out walking them toward a nearby playground area.
As I saw this interaction between the young man and his sons, I started to smile. The young man and I looked at each other and he smiled back at me with a pride that every Dad knows. As I kept walking by them, I felt ashamed that I also was guilty of stereotyping people. I never looked at myself as the kind of person who did this toward others, but in that instance walking downtown, I did. And then, as I realized what I had done, I heard a little voice in my mind remind me that this young man was a Dad just like me. A man who loved his kids and wanted the best in life for them too. As I walked away, I was reminded that Jesus Christ died for all of us and that this young man and his sons were my brothers in Christ too.
All of us have a long way to go in our understanding of one another. As I have been learning at The POLIS Institute, we should all be in a higher form of building relationships. As a follower of Jesus, it is being reminded that I am absolutely no better than anyone else, even if my pants are held above my hip and not sagging far below. Every person deserves self-worth, dignity and have the feeling that they can provide for themselves and their family. Everyone deserves to feel like they can amount to something. The other day was a much needed reminder for me, and one I think for all of us, that we all need to have empathy toward others around us. We each need to put ourselves in their shoes… or even into wearing their saggy pants.
Come worship with us any Sunday at 10:00, to feel the welcome and warmth of a community of faith who are on a journey seeking to grow deeper in their love for God through Jesus Christ and for one another.
As we are at the beginning of our season of Lent, it is amazing how quickly time has gone by since I was appointed this past July to Bear Lake United Methodist Church. My family and I are extremely blessed to be part of such a wonderful, vibrant, and warm-welcoming congregation!
In John 13:34-35 it says... "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." During this journey through the season of Lent, we are each to look deeply within ourselves at those areas of our lives which keep us from a closer relationship to God. Just as Jesus Christ showed love to everyone, we are each surrounded by the Prevenient Grace of God that surrounds us in all we do. Even when we trip over ourselves making poor choices and messing up our lives, God never turns away from us and is always wanting a closer relationship with each of us.
I encourage you to take time each day to pray to God, to have casual conversations with God while driving to work or to the store. Also, to take time and read the scriptures, let the words of the Gospel speak to you. And also, take the important time of being in silence to listen for God. Be intentional to put the cell phone down, turn off the TV or computer, and place yourself into moments of stillness, in order to hear the voice of God speaking to you in the ways you can be reached.
If you are looking for a place to worship on Sunday mornings... a place where you can feel like you are in the warmth of your own loving family... then I invite you to come to Bear Lake United Methodist Church where you can be "re-charged". Come worship with us every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and experience the love and grace of God through Jesus Christ.