"Feng Shui" at Crossroads

Whether a person has a one bedroom apartment by a train track (can we say, "Grad School" boys and girls?) or a beautiful house with incredible views and lavish architecture, it is the furnishings and color schemes that add the personal touch that make it home. There is a huge difference between that store front stiff chair and the den with a nice, broken in Laz-boy recliner! But it certainly is a matter of taste. In the art of Feng Shui, all our furnishings impact our moods and health in our homes. The other side of our furnishings is the color choices we make as well. These often can have positive or negative effects on a how a room feels and ultimately how we feel.

Did you realize that while it may take you a few minutes to hang that new picture just right or a few hours to determine color patterns or how to arrange the bedroom, the Church has 2,000 years of history of design consultation?

One author described it this way, "…A symbol is a sign. It is an object or picture we can touch, which is substituted for something else...to convey an idea or belief. In Christian symbolism we must learn to not merely look at the symbols but to look through them to the truths which they express."

For instance, maybe you have noticed the different colors on the table or the different banners hung on different Sundays. Of course, if I’d picked it, it would have reflected Star Wars or hunting, so I’m sure you’re glad my opinion didn’t play a role. But they aren’t because I called an interior decorator either. These are symbols and they all have meaning.

*White: color of purity. Commonly used on special days during the year for events in the life of Jesus. Also used at weddings and funerals.

*Red: color of celebration and festivals. Used on Pentecost and at ordinations.

*Blue and Violet: color of royalty. Used during Advent before Christmas to remind us of the coming of Jesus.

*Green: color of life. During the time between Pentecost Sunday and the beginning of Advent.

These colors are important in reminding us of the special times and events in the life of the church Jesus' followers have honored for centuries. They are markers to point us toward the work of God in our past and in our midst.

But these aren't the only things that are important - once the color scheme is determined you still need the furniture right?

Crossroads, like almost every church, styles our place of worship off the Jewish temple and synagogue. Our attention is drawn toward the primary furnishings in the chancel, (that is fancy name for the front of the church) that is the area set-apart for the leading of worship.

The INSTRUMENTS and WORSHIP TEAM lead us in the music of worship. Music is important to God and is to be a part of our time given to God. The earliest Christians were Jews and came from a tradition of music and percussion. The focus of the six verses of Psalm 150 emphasized this point. Paul wrote to the early Christian churches at Colossae (3:16) and Ephesus (5:19) to sing and make music.

Each week our young people who serve as acolytes, draw our attention to two important symbols when they bring in the BIBLE, the book of our faith. And the CROSS, the primary symbol of our faith. Both of these come to the TABLE, the center of the worship. And it is here that our story begins to take shape.

Matthew 21:12-16 GNB Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, 13) and said to them, "It is written in the Scriptures that God said, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer.' But you are making it a hideout for thieves!" 14) The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15) The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, "Praise to David's Son!" 16) So they asked Jesus, "Do you hear what they are saying?" "Indeed I do," answered Jesus. "Haven't you ever read this scripture? 'You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.' "

When Jesus comes to the Jerusalem, it is the week he will make the ultimate sacrifice before God. But today, God's Son comes to the temple, the place of prayer and worship, a place God envisioned to be a place where all people will come to know Him. Does Jesus find the people of the nations in prayer? Does he find the masses welcomed? Comforted? Aided by the priests and pharisees to understand and learn the way of prayer?

No. No, here in the temple Jesus finds corruption and exploitation! This is not the way the followers of God are to act! Not to take advantage of those who have come from around the world to worship but to make room! To share the Way to God! And the anger of God is stirred in the heart of Jesus. If he is to give his life on the ALTAR as the perfect sacrifice, then ALL should be welcome. Jesus looked through the symbolism to the truth and truth demands action.

Through the actions of Jesus Christ, from the clearing of the temple to his death and resurrection, the ALTAR became the TABLE. Here is where we celebrate the communion meal and renew our faith. Here is where baptismal font reminds us of the forgiveness and cleansing offered to us in Jesus Christ. It is here that we place the BIBLE, the book of our faith. It is at the table we find the CROSS, the reminder of why Jesus came, for you and for me, that we might know God.

The logos of businesses and corporations help us remember so we’ll shop. But the symbols represent truth and remind us, teach us, convict us, and challenge us to stay connected to Jesus and to seek after Him daily. That is why each week it is the children who Jesus says, “have perfected praise,” who take out the Bible and Cross. And this too is a symbol, a symbol that reminds us, what takes place here, is intended to be taken to a world out there.

So when you look through the symbols, just what do you see? Pictures or objects or the truth, that God indeed loves the world? But the question becomes, what will you do with the truth you know? And will you follow the lead of our children and take the truth of Jesus to the world? With Christmas around the corner, people are looking and hoping to find God. They’re looking for imitators, and our neighbors are looking to Crossroads.

May I Ask?How will you be an imitator; a symbol to the world of God's love?
May I Suggest?Maybe it is with a Wii angel for Murphy-Harpst. Maybe it is taking an invite card and passing it on to a neighbor and inviting them to a service.

Click here for the podcasts of Crossroads UMC.

How Do You Give?

No, I am not asking what charities you give to or what you give in offering at church. That would be asking “How much do you give?” and I think I have enough sense to know you’re not going to answer. Besides, I can save that for another blog. So then tell me...

How do you give?

How often?
What do you do?
Who is the recipient?
Why did you decide to?
What is worth your time?
What is worth your energy?

I didn’t ever really get why my parents saved the stuff I made as a kid but save it they did. When I had kids, I started realizing and appreciating the gifts Logan and Jillian made. When they make me something, it is coming out of what limited sources they have.

How you give may in fact have to do with money BUT it is not the only way to give and may not be the most effective way. To truly give, means at some level, we sacrifice. At some point, you step out and step off the cliff or better yet jump! Give, not expecting a return.

Do you think those coaches, scout leaders, mentors, Meals on Wheels drivers, and food bank helpers are getting paid? It is how they give. Even though I am a pastor, like others, I volunteer in Scouting and with our local Chamber of Commerce. Here is a deal for you: I'll share my den leader salary with anyone who'll come see what we do. So let me ask you again…

How do you give?

Is it time?
Is it muscle?
Is it wisdom?
Is it resources?
Is it imagination?
Is it encouragement?

It has been said faith is not judged by what one says about it, but by what one does about it (Check out what James had to say). Giving is an act of faith. So if you’ve got it, whatcha gonna do about it? It is all talk if you do nothing.

May I Ask? How will you give?
May I Suggest? Consider what matters most to you. Consider too, your own words...are you living them? Ask the hard questions and then act. Give.

Do you ever wonder...

Sometimes you have to ask the truly deep questions...why IS the rum gone?


I love to share stories at our Pack meeting's Cubmaster minute time. Tonight, I shared a little about my favorite animal, the turtle.

The earliest known turtles date from 215 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than lizards and snakes. About 300 species are alive today, and some are highly endangered (Wikipedia). With millions of years of history, I’m fairly certain we can learn something from turtles. In fact, one scout did.

A scout was exploring around the campsite one afternoon when he once found a turtle. When he started to examine it, the turtle pulled in its head and closed its shell like a vice. This displeased the boy, and he picked up something and tried to pry it open. His scoutmaster saw all this and said: "No, that is not the way! You may kill it, but you will not get it open."

The scoutmaster took the turtle near the campfire and set it down so it could warm up. It was not but a few minutes until it began to get warm. Then the turtle pushed out its head, then its feet, and began crawling. " Turtles are like that," the Scoutmaster said, "and people, too. You cannot force them into anything. But if you first warm them up with some real kindness, more than likely they will open themselves up.”

Now, not everyone wants you to pick them up and put them by a fire but simple things show kindness. For kids it maybe, opening up a door for someone carrying a box, helping a brother or sister tie their shoes, cleaning your room or sweeping the floor, or even doing what your teacher says, are all acts of kindness.

For grown-ups it maybe some of that and more like returning a phone call or e-mail in a timely way, giving the benefit of the doubt first, not throwing up the hand gestures in traffic, or saying your sorry to your kids, spouse or friends (and enemies) when you're wrong.

And like the turtle, with real kindness you will find people open up to you and they will come to show kindness back to you.

May I Ask: Where have you found it hardest to act with kindness? Why is that?

May I Suggest: Take up the scouting challenge of "Doing A Good Turn." Try each day to do one act of kindness. Share what you did here!

Share the Love...Gamer's Trade

You all know that I love living in the north Paulding/Acworth community! We've got access to so much great stuff so close to home. One of the things that makes it even more awesome to live here is all of the small businesses and their services to our community.

Not far from north Paulding and just down Highway 41 in Acworth, is a great business run by my friend Henry, Gamer's Trade. When I first met Henry in the store, I didn't even know we were neighbors but he treated me like he knew me. Gamer's Trade can do anything the chain stores can do but they take it a step farther: they serve the customer. I've watched the staff make recommendations for the good of the customer first and always with professionalism and polish.

They look out for their customers and they get to know your needs. With the economy as it is, buying used is a great way to save money and stretch a buck or two. Because of the service, I go to Gamer's Trade to ask questions and shop first. You'll definitely find a business who cares about their trade...and their neighborhood connections!

May I Ask? What business has given you that personal service and impressed you? What was it that set them apart?

May I Suggest? Share the Love! Tell us about it here or spread the news on your own blog. Be sure to provide the link so you can help increase traffic to their site.

We've Got To Book This Group!

H/T to my good friend Billy Payne over at Due West UMC. After seeing this audition tape, I really think we've got have this group come to Crossroads!

Not! ;)

Goodfellas Ask Good Questions

Each week at Crossroads we have some additional questions, readings, thoughts, and activities printed in the worship guide. What happens on Sunday mornings is never meant for just Sunday mornings! It does take some extra time but it just seems to make sense so we don't walk away thinking that was all there was to a Sunday morning.

So whether you're part of Crossroads or if you happen to stop by, feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas in the comments.

1. If you were in a crisis, even at one in the morning, who are the four friends you would be able to call?
2. What are the important characteristics of a friend to you?

Read Mark 2:1-12

3. If you were one of the friends of the paralytic man and saw the crowd at the door, what would have been your reaction?
4. If you were the paralytic, how would you feel about “dropping in” on Jesus?
5. What is it that impresses you about the four friends?
6. What was it that impressed Jesus? (v. 5)
7. Following the example of the paralytic’s friends (and Sunday’s sermon), who will you be a “goodfella” to this week? What will you do to show it?


Encouraging Words
Have paper and pencils on hand and work as a family, or break into teams to see how many words you can come up with from the word ENCOURAGEMENT. Here are some examples: team, tan, neat, great, game, more, etc.
Post the words you came up with and add to the list!

Not In Kansas Anymore

Nope, never imagined that when I said it, I'd be missing it, but it is true...I'm back home. For those of you who were wondering what happened to me, and why I went silent, it is true, I went to Kansas.

It is hard to say it was R&R though it was vacation. I've got a whole lot of stories from this past week, some can be told and others best left untold. Needless to say, my first experience with pheasant and duck hunting was certainly a great experience. Give me a little time as I've got a whole lot of deadlines right now to catch up on.

It is good to be back home but my mind still lingers in the fields of Kansas.

Always Something

There is always something isn’t there? Just when we got used to not having to mow every week, now it is time to start raking and mulching leaves every week. Just when we got used to school schedules, now it is time to get used to fall sports, scouts, ballet, or something else.

Your turn! Fill in the blanks: “Just when we got used to ________________________, now it is time to ________________________.” There is always something.

This seems to be a simple reality which is common the world over. The pace might be different depending where you live, but we know there is always “something.” Usually we think our “something” is “something worse.” I remember the comedian Bill Cosby warning his audiences “don’t ever say…it couldn’t get any…worse! That is the guarantee of BOOM…WORSE!” Often times this is how we think of those “something” times.

When my son started selling popcorn for his Cub Scout pack a couple years ago, you can probably guess that my first thought was, “There is always “something” isn’t there?” But I discovered a few things on our afternoon journeys together. Sometimes the “something” is not worse after all. You see, walking the streets of my neighborhood, I got to spend time with my son. I was reminded how blessed I was to have such neat kid.

The other “something” was found when we knocked on the doors. I imagine some of you might have been just ready to take a nap when we knocked on the door and you may have thought, “It's always something.” What we discovered was our neighbors. Neat folks from all over the country and world surround us here in Acworth. Some people have lived here a while, others were new just like us. Sometimes the “something” is not worse after all.

We are surrounded today by changes. There is always “something” around Acworth. Some of our more established communities have well developed infrastructure while others are still in the process of developing it. Having infrastructures, systems, and policies however does not prevent the unexpected from happening. If they did, we would not call them unexpected.

It is kind of like the t-shirt: "Change is good -- You start." Many approaches to handling change are not much more useful than a t-shirt slogan. To date, I have yet to meet anyone who said, “I read a t-shirt today that changed my life!” We live in a beautiful, historic community and “somethings” are always coming up on us.

It is always “something” but that “something” is not always bad. Change is often powered by people. When we say “It's always something” that “something” often has someone behind it. The many “somethings” in our community – traffic issues, school overcrowding, construction delays – all have a human face. A face we can meet. A face we can get to know.

For me, I am starting to think about what I learned selling popcorn with my son. All around us are people. Not just people, but neighbors. These neighbors have a potential to be something even more: friends. We miss so much when we live in our neighborhoods and just nod.

There is also the second thing I learned, you remember, I have neat kids. It is hard to see it ,though, when we do not hang out. These neighbors you and I have are neat people. They come from different places with different experiences. Together, each of us brings a different set of skills and talents.

It would make sense then, we might find in our neighbor and in ourselves, responses and answers to many of these “somethings” we are facing. One writer describes a church like a body and reminds the people, “…the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14) It is not real hard to see how this applies to you and me living here around Acworth or where ever you call home. It is not just one but all of us, neighbors, living and working together, taking on each of these “somethings” and turning them into something great for all.

May I Ask: When was the last time you were neighborly (and not with who you know but who you don't know)?

May I Suggest: Go out of your way to do another something for a new someone. I know, I know, it is always something...but try to make this something special for someone.

John Williams Is "The Man"

I love soundtracks. In my opinion, a soundtrack can make an okay movie better and a good movie great. It can also ruin a movie too.

Personally, I think John Williams has got to be the all time best at instrumental soundtracks. Certainly, he has done the most memorable. Now, add to that some lyrics in tribute to the greatest movie of all time and you've got this...

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