Last Minute Costuming Ideas...

Not quite ready for Halloween? Try one of these...

A Pause In The Insanity...

In the midst of my life, there have been different times and moments where certain things, an image, a smell, or a sound, have caused a pause in the insanity. One of the pauses for me I return to over and over, is the music of Jeff Johnson. Jeff has been a pioneer and inspiration to many. I have got to give the hat tip to Mike Pullen, on of my college roommates who introduced me to Jeff Johnson and Ark Music.

I've had the album for a while but recently, I began listening again to Jeff's album, The Prayers of St. Brendan. I look to Jeff's music as I look to my treasured books, they are companions on the journey.

This album is unique in that it is a retelling of the journey of St. Brendan. St Brendan is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to The Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century "Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator." Brendan's journey was one of exploring more than just the world but life and faith. To step off "the edge of the world," as Brendan did, is something many consider but few do. I am finding as the pastor of a new church start, some similarities. I think St. Brendan would be a good patron saint of church start pastors.

I met Jeff and Brian Dunning at the Emergent conference back in 2004. They were both taken by surprise that I had been listening to their music since the early '90s. The service they led was one I'll never forget as it provided such an important pause for me at a very uncertain time.

Jeff's music has provided the soundtrack and inspiration for my faith journey.

I'm really excited that I just received two new albums today: "Vespers" and "Benediction." I'm listening to Vespers now and finding it to be an appropriate pause at the end of this day. Another pause in the insanity.

May I Ask: Where do you find pause in the insanity? Do you know when you need to pause?

May I Suggest: Consider the music, book, or place, that helps you feel at home regardless of where you are. Keep such inspirations close by in case of emergency. We all could use a pause in the insanity.

BTW, if you can't figure one out, order some of Jeff's music! ;)

Life According To Monopoly

When you play games, you need to know the goal. If you are playing Monopoly, the goal is to get as much property and money as you can and then defeat the others by forcing them into bankruptcy. Right now, I am not sure many of us have Monopoly on the top of our play lists. The idea of being bankrupt hits far too close to home.

If there was a time, certainly in my lifetime, that we need to hear a better understanding of God’s view of money, it is now. I think such a view is expressed well by my friend Casey Graham at ReThink Money, who has often said, “God cares for more than 10%.”

One illustration of Jesus stands out to me as an example of the problem of a life lived according to Monopoly.
“He said, "A rich man had land that produced good crops. He thought, 'What should I do? I don't have enough room to store my crops.' He said, 'I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones so that I can store all my grain and goods in them. Then I'll say to myself, "You've stored up a lot of good things for years to come. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself."' "But God said to him, 'You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight! Now who will get what you've accumulated?' That's how it is when a person has material riches but is not rich in his relationship with God." (Luke 12:16-21 GW)

The crux of the story is that a man worked hard and reaped the benefits of the hard work. He gained all he could and he wanted to save all he could. Jesus does not indicate there was anything wrong with either.

But then the man said, “…take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' It is at this point where the soul comes into play that God says of this man that he is a fool. A soul is lost when we place our faith in anything other than God.

There have been other superpowers with financial crises and pastors who have addressed those issues. One of those superpowers was England. One of those pastors was John Wesley. Wesley said to many of those living in the difficult times of the 18th century and to us today, we ought to “Gain All We Can, Save All We Can and Give All We Can.”

When we face both the good times and difficult times of financial markets, we should keep in mind such principles that help us live out our faith. We do not have to take a vow of poverty but we do need to remember we all have a responsibility.

We gain all we can but not at the expense of others. We do not take advantage of anyone in order to make a buck. We should also save all we can. Not hoarding it but making sure the needs (and not necessarily the wants) of our family are provided for and that some is set aside. But to do only those two does not really change us.

It is in times such as these that the call to give all we can has more to do with aligning ourselves with God’s vision for people. God cares for more than 10%, 90% or even the full 100% of your income - God cares for you, the person he created. The call to earn and save, is to honor the abilities and minds God has given you and I. But to give is to give an offering to God who did not even withhold his only Son, Jesus, from us.

May I Ask: What has been your approach to handling money? How has it worked for you?

May I Suggest:A call from Helping Hands of Paulding County alerted me to just how difficult the situation is for many of our neighbors, literally. Maybe you already have a charity you support and can give to, if not, give Helping Hands a call at 770-443-1230.

To live within our means gives us a chance to help our neighbor in need.

Click here for the podcast of Life According to Monopoly.

Defending the Galaxy...Father and Son

The Clone Wars Mall Tour was in town today (though we had to track it down!) I love living in Atlanta! It was a great distraction as the Jedi Pastor and his eldest youngling and padawan tried to hold down the homefront while the girls were camping.

Granted, you cannot hang out with Hothlanta Rebels if you do not live in the ATL but if the Clone Wars Tour comes nearby, don't miss it. It is about an hour or so and features some fairly cool activities. You should bump into a few stormtroopers. Get your picture taken as jedi. Play a little Wii and test your lightsaber skills (kind of a big version of the game Operation). There are some pretty good freebies too.

Just thought I would share as the Clone Wars spirit begins to spread across the galaxy!

BTW, if you get the picture done, it doesn't come with the lightsaber effects. If you need the effects, try Light Saber Maker for free.

Smuggler's Blues In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

One of my favorite songs of my generation combined with one of the greatest scoundrels of the big screen makes for one awesome video...enjoy!

Pride and a Protocol Droid

C-3PO: I do believe they think I am some kind of god.

Han Solo: Well, why don't you use your divine influence and get us out of this?

C-3PO: I beg your pardon General Solo, but that just wouldn't be proper.

Han Solo: Proper???

C-3PO: It's against my programming to impersonate a deity.
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

While George Lucas may not be able to write good romantic dialogue, he sure can hit on some very important theological elements. This is one of them.

I know we are not droids (for those of you not up to speed on Star Wars: droid = robot), nor would I wish to be one. As a Wesleyan-United Methodist, I stand firmly in the belief in free grace which leads to free will.

It is from this understanding that I cannot conceive of how easily fundamentalist beliefs (across denominations and religions) can so quickly turn to a desire to, in C3PO's words, "...impersonate a deity." But then, we live in a time and world where no one seems able to withstand the pressure to "...impersonate a deity" when asked.

Hearing Rush Limbaugh's claim to have "talent on loan from God" has gotten fairly stale many years? But then so has the entire media approach to being wiser than the world. There have been far too much attention on these impersonators for me to add anything more to the conversation.

My personal observation is that politicians need to stop reading their press clippings (just take note of a number of football teams recently). Everyone has their skeletons in the closet. It is way beyond time to hide them and certainly disingenuous to act or speak like one is above it all. Want to point fingers at this president? Go back through history and you'll find it true of all of them at some point.

And least I forget, we in clergy have had to deal with this continuously. Sure, go through history and the Church and clergy have erred in many ways. Maybe the biggest was in accepting and acquiescing to Constantine. Rather than serving the Deity, the Church began impersonating one. With rise of the Protestant reformation, came a rise in little impersonators. More than one clergy I know has fallen into the trap of "...impersonating a deity." More than one, has then fallen from their role.

It is frighteningly easy to begin the journey down this road. It starts as easily as
"Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.(James 4:13-16 ESV)

If at any point you begin to hear such thoughts come from me, I give you permission to send out a Wookie after me. After all while certain droids don't impersonate deities, droids also, "...don't pull people's arms out of their sockets." Sometimes we all need a little readjustment.

May I Ask? When have you felt the urge recently to show off your "deity impression?" Did you? Why or why not?

May I Suggest? Consider what prompted it. You might need your own personal "Wookie" or a good friend to pull an arm out of socket (or just smack you in the head) the next time it happens. Trust, me, it is for the best. Besides, they'll go back into place...eventually.

Caption Addition...

H/T to my friend Melissa for sending this one! Add an idea for a caption below.

I'm going to be taking my safe hunter test tonight...scary to think about, I know. Not only do have all my licences, now I'll be classified as safe to actually hunt! This is your last chance to intercede...

Crossroads UMC Launches!!

Yesterday was an awesome day! It is an amazing experience to be living life with so many incredible people who are seeking after God's will all at once. Wow.

The funny thing is, for all the build up, all the preparation, all the anxiety, all the prayer, Crossroads UMC, was, is and will be God's. I am in awe today of how wonderfully gracious God is to let us play any role whatsoever in the handiwork which is His world and His Church.

Crossroads folks, you are incredible!!! Thank you for your prayers, services and sacrifices to follow the still, small voice that God placed in your heart.

On the Backroads of a Life Worth Living

I drive around Georgia a bit more than Heather and the kids. I have found and learned many of the back roads and avoid our more busy streets where I can. So, when we start going places as a family, if I know where we are going, I tend to take the back roads. I will admit sometimes it does not always go as planned but we always get there.

Do you ever get that feeling in life? I mean, did you plan things to go exactly as they have up until this day? Are you doing what you said you wanted to do when you four years old? Yeah, I am not where I thought I would be either. I was planning on being the Six Million Dollar Man, oh well. Six years ago if you asked me if I would be starting a new church, I would tell you it wasn’t even on my radar. Some times we take the back roads and wind up at a crossroads.

Our community here is a growing one. It is a dynamic one. It is a crossroads where you can find people from all walks of life and stories. Look at the bumper stickers and the front license plates and you can see; we are from everywhere. But not anymore, now we are all from here.

Our community comes together at ball games and for school fairs. We serve together on PTA, in scouting, and pass each other in the store. Listen to our accents and see the colors of our skin. They tell part of the story of the roads we traveled to this place.

Crossroads United Methodist Church is a new church starting October 5 and it is a place where people who are from everywhere, can find a connection to God and to others, right here. Tom-Tom is not a guide for all the journeys and back roads in life that we will take. A GPS may get you to a location but it does not tell you about where your heart lies.

And just where is your heart? Is there a road map? What are the rules of that road? From start to finish, life is the trickiest and wildest road you and I will ever travel. Is the destination more important or the journey?

The answers to these questions may surprise you. No matter where you are on life’s road, come join us this Sunday at Crossroads United Methodist Church as we navigate ups, downs, twists and turns, and learn just how much God wants you to have a Life Worth Living!

Crossroads UMC is meeting at Shelton Elementary School at 9:39am.

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