June 27 marked the fourth Sunday of my renewal leave (i.e. Sabbatical), and I’m just about at my halfway point of this time. It has been a real blessing. I took my first church job in 1997, as Youth Minister … Continue reading
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26 April 16, 2017 is Easter. This is the great day in the life of the church. This is the great day in the history of the cosmos. On this … Continue reading
I have been blessed through my time in ministry to officiate a great number of weddings. They are some of the truest joys of ministry, to be able to stand with a couple as they unite as one, that’s a truly … Continue reading
Holly always tells me that when I get busy, I get grumpy. And she’s pretty right. And unfortunately my natural condition is stay busy. Which means, in time, I’ll get grumpy.
I’ve been grumpy recently. When I get like this, I only see the things that are wrong. The things I’m doing right, the things that Asbury isn’t doing right, the ways that we are missing the mark. Things that other pastors are doing. Things that other church are doing. Things that I’m not doing, that we are not doing. And I think man! I’m terrible at this!
Did you know that a pastor could feel that way? Maybe I’m the only one, but I do sometimes. I compare. I fret. I worry. Especially when I’m in the grumpy mood.
When I’m in that mood, you could show me 100 things right, I’ll see the 1 wrong. I am thankful that this is not my natural condition. But, when I get too busy, I get tired, and when I get tired, I get grumpy.
So, today, I’ve just been discontented. We’ve been away for a couple of days as a family, and a chance for me to catch my breath before starting Camp Meeting this Sunday. And I’ve just been thinking and praying and worrying and fretting. Tonight, though as I sat here, a thought hit me. Now, I know this thought is from God, because it’s smarter than anything I’d think of.
Andy – you worry. You fret. You get aggravated You get annoyed. You look at other churches, other pastors, other people and other things and see how you dont’ measure up.
You don’t pray. Not like you need to. Not as you ought. Not as I need you to.
You don’t pray.
And so, that’s where I am. I need to pray. I need to stop being grumpy, stop fretting, and start praying.
Maybe you’re in the same place. Maybe instead of comparing yourself or worrying about everything you need to pray. I know that I need to.
So, let’s pray. Let’s give it to God. And let’s be faithful, in that, and in all things.
I was hanging out with Thomas today and he asked to go to the park. That’s pretty awesome, seeing how he has a lot of his daddy in him, and he’d be just as happy to sit around playing on the computer all day as he would be going outside.
So, we decide to head down to Relay Park here in Petal. When we got there, there we no other kids there, so he and I just kind of ran around goofing off.
Then, other kids started coming, and I kind of slipped back and let him play and watched.
And something happened that is true at all time with our kids. They just started playing. Three two other little boys, both around Thomas’ age came up and just had the best time together. They ran, they climbed, they fell down, they just had a blast.
They didn’t know each other before. These three little boys were each different in race, dress, and outward appearance. That didn’t matter, though. Because they were too busy playing.
I think looking at our differences first is something that we adults do. I can’t be friends with you, you are part of a different denomination. Or church. Or class. Or race. Or political party. Or theological group. Or whatever.
Not that these differences are unimportant or can be papered over. Yes, there are things that divide us. There will always be. That’s just the way it is.
But, to these kids, that didn’t matter. They just wanted someone to play with.
As adults, particularly as Christian, we have a lot to learn from that. If Jesus is what unites us, He is so much greater than our differences.
If we focus on what we disagree on, there is no hope for unity, or even working together. But, if we focus on what unites us, Jesus and His grace and salvation, we see we have so much more in common than we could ever imagine.
I had a blessing watching Thomas to play. And as I grow older, I sure hope I can be more like him.
I don’t normally read from the King James. I read from the NRSV normally because it’s the standard pew Bible edition for most United Methodist Churches. I also like the TNIV, even though they are no longer making it, the NIV, the Message, and most all of them. I always tell folks read the Bible that speaks to them.
But, when I quote scripture off the top of my head, I quote the King James. Why? Because it’s what I grew up reading and hearing, and it’s what scripture still “sounds” like to me. Especially the Psalms, or John 14 (in Father’s house were many mansions).
And the passage I’m thinking about this morning. When I think of John 15: 13, I always hear it in the KJV
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
See it was on April 16, 1978 that no great love was shown to me.
On April 16, 1978, my mother was murdered. She was killed as she was walking out of our house, with me in her arms. She was walking out of the house because she did not want me raised in an abusive situation, in a situation full of drugs and destruction. She was walking out of the house because she wanted me to have a better life.
She was walking out of the house because she loved me.
And in that, she laid down her life for me. Literally. I sometimes tell folks I have the burden and blessing in my life of having had two people lay down their life for me, Jesus and Mama Sarah.
And, every day I wake up and know that I am here, I give thanks for no greater love.
And every time I look at my daughter Sarah and mourn over the fact that she will never know the grandmother she was named for, I give thanks for no greater love.
Every time I look at my grandparent that adopted me, even though they had raised their kids already, and had other plans for life, I give thanks for no greater love.
And every time I get the chance to teach my children about what love looks like, I give thanks for no greater love.
Today is a bittersweet day. I have no doubt that I am and have been loved. I just wish the price weren’t so high.
But, greater love hath no man (or woman, mother, or father) than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.
I give thanks for no greater love.
Check out some of the fun we Stoddards had during Easter!
Sarah wanted to help me light the candles before church tonight