Deep Fried Correction

Oh, how I still savor the flavor! No, what you are seeing me about to partake is not a corn dog but a deep fried snickers bar! Yessiree, it was one of the many moments I'll remember from our vacation and stay-cations this summer.

I got to enjoy this treat at Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC. It has been closed for about four years and has recently reopened under new ownership. We spent a full eight hours there and still didn't do everything! It is definitely worth checking out.

While enjoying my savory treat, fellow customers commented that deep-fried candy bars must be a "southern-thing." I kindly corrected them it wasn't (though we in the south do love to fry as much as we can), but it was a "Ghost Town thing."

This conversation began to percolate in my mind over the past few weeks about the generalities often made in life. It certainly is made about race and gender, as well as, regions of the country, the world and religions. However, it is also made on smaller scales about businesses, neighborhoods and, of course, individuals.

How quick are you to label others as "problems" based on one incident? I know I have issues there. But is it fair to do it even with a pattern of incidents? In the context of talking about loving enemies, Jesus said,
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. (Luke 6:36-37 NASB)"
If Jesus was talking about enemies, how much more ought we to be attentive to showing mercy to strangers or even neighbors?

One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that Stephen Covey identifies is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Maybe you'll have to eat some crow after you learn a new thing. If so, just do what we do down south, deep fry it. At least it will make it savory!

May I Ask? When was the last time you DID walk a mile in someone else's shoes?

May I Suggest? Take time to get to get to know more about someone this week you aren't so sure about. Read up on a prejudice you hold that you might be questioning and question it!

Why Are Ends So Bad?

Today I'm preaching the last service of Due West's 11am Contemporary service. It was an attempt to reach a new audience and demographic. It had so many things going for it yet it did not meet the purpose.

It is hard to close things out. I've been going around about this all week since I was asked to do this service. I also know the struggle our Annual Conference goes through when we have to close churches. It is so ironic that I'm ending one thing at the same time we're preparing to start something totally new.

Yet, isn't this the way of the Church? Isn't this the way of the Christ, dying even as we are starting new? Tell me, Paul wrote a whole bunch of letters to churches in the New Testament. Other than the church in Rome, can a case be made that any of those churches still exists?

This week, I took some time and reflected on "An Order for Disbanding a Congregation" in the UMC Book of Worship. I've prepared it to serve our service this morning and thought I'd share it as an opportunity to use it in other ways in ministry.

An Order for Disbanding a Service

This service was organized as a part of Christ’s holy Church and of His church here at Due West. It was God’s gift for a season.
We are thankful for the many and differing ways it has served the mission.

However, we declare that it is no longer a service and is now disbanded.

But Christ’s holy Church is of God, and will be preserved to the end of time, for the conduct of worship and the due administration of God’s Word and Sacraments, the maintenance of Christian fellowship and discipline, the edification of believers, and the conversion of the world.

We remain part Christ’s ongoing Church, and as we go our ways from here we shall still be one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Further Thoughts...
It maybe that we need to recover one of our symbols of the early church, that of the phoenix. The symbol of the mythical bird was a dramatic reminder of the resurrection life. An end of things is the opportunity for beginning a new. The Church does not die when a ministry, service or church (with a little 'c') comes to a close. Ending well maybe a significant foundation for beginning well.

May I Ask: When have you had to bring something to an end? How well did it end? How could it have done better?

May I Suggest: Consider something in your life, work or ministry that needs to be ended. How will you end it well? Share what you did here.

Best Show Ever...Mobile Home Disaster

If you have yet to see this 'cause you don't watch CMT I understand. Now you don't have any excuses. Mobile Home Disaster totally rocks. Maybe it is because I'm just becoming a bigger redneck or it maybe the concept is so much better than anything else. It could be that "Cap" is also just funny as all get out.

Living Like Jesus When Everyone Knows Your Name

It has been close to a year since I began wearing a name tag everyday. Along the way there have been connections made with strangers, friendships started with greeters at Wal-Mart, as well as snide remarks and comments. Off the top of my head, I've worked for free at Home Depot, Target, Big Lots, and Dollar Tree to name a few. All in all, it has been one of the neatest experiences along the journey of starting Crossroads UMC.

I can't thank Scott enough for his inspiration and encouragement. In one recent blog, Scott asked the question, "What if everyone did wear a nametags?" I'm still pondering if there is anything I have to add. What I do know, is that when I wear a nametag, I am challenged to do many of the things on the list.

It does make me more accountable and more aware regarding who I represent. No, not a church or denomination but Jesus Christ. When everyone knows your name, have you ever thought how real and challenging Jesus' words would be? Think about these...
"If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.(Matthew 5:43-48 GW)"

Yeah, I didn't either but I can tell you I'm thankful for it. It certainly has added elements to my life and my faith journey I had not counted on. Maybe the biggest thing is trying to be authentic, realizing that when everyone knows your name, would they equate your life with Jesus' life? Is my life, in fact, reflecting how Jesus lived not in some legalistic, rule following way, but do I love my neighbor and the stranger?

Oh, one of the ways of being more authentic is that my nametag is a magnet (thanks to my good friend, Bill @ Signs & More) so I'm saving trees!

May I Ask: How are you practicing authenticity in your life?

May I Suggest: Pick one of your core values and focus on it for 24 hours. Try and live it out as best you can. What did you learn? Can you try it again?

I Might Seriously Take Up Golf Again...

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