Pastor Kevin’s Blog
American Flag

Martyrs and Civics

American Flag
As a former US History teacher, I often find myself amazed at this time of year (and again in July and November) at how little our jargon-saturated patriotic culture understands of our revered national holidays. To recap, just for civics sake:
  • Veteran’s Day (originally Armistice Day) began with the end of WWI. It is our nation’s day to honor the service of men and women who have served in the country’s armed forces.
  • Independence Day (July 4) is the commemoration of the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule.
  • Memorial Day arose out of the Civil War era and was later made official as a day of solemn remembrance of those men and women who lost their lives in armed conflict in military service.
As a former grade school kid, High School Band member and then Director, I experienced 40+ years of parades and ceremonies and commemorations that oftentimes misunderstood their reasons for existing.
Having made the transition to Pastor, I took note of how deeply the church had often taken on these important national holidays as if they were a kind of worship experience within themselves, as though Jesus could step aside on whatever Sunday morning was closest to any of these commemorations and let us point our Sunday worship toward our national symbols. One church I served had gone so far as to have a person dressed as Lady Liberty standing at the altar as the children paraded forward to lay miniature Old Glories at her feet.
So, having rightly remembered just 2 days ago those who have fallen in the awful conflict that is war for the sake of our country, I want to invite you to make a special effort to be with us this Sunday at 10 am as we consider what it might look like for the Church to remember those who have fallen for an infinitely greater cause, that the name of Christ be known. Come and honor God as we consider the example of some lives lived, lost, and regained in heaven for the sake of Jesus Christ. You will be blessed.
 
YBIC, Kevin


Waiting

The Waiting (Placing Our Hope)

Waiting

Waiting can be so hard. Sometimes, just like a kid waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the school day, I find myself staring at my watch and being impatient. It helped me to have new perspective the day I figured out that several languages use the same verb for “to wait” as for “to hope for”. In this perspective, suddenly it’s not clock watching, but trusting in God that becomes our imperative.

 

Last week, we celebrated Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Allow me to back us up a few steps today.

 

In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus said this to His disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 

After Jesus ascended to heaven, the scripture reports that 120 followers went to the place they were staying and joined together constantly in prayer; 10 days, give or take, of waiting for the Spirit.


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Flame

In Praise of Pentecost

Flame
People often tell me I’m a little bit off (maybe a little nuts) when I tell them that the 2nd most important celebration in the Christian calendar isn’t Christmas. Some of you might be thinking, “Well, of course, Christmas is #1.”  Not so. Resurrection Day is #1 with a bullet (that’s for you Top 40 radio fans).
 
So then, if you read the title of this musing, you’ve likely determined that I would argue for Pentecost as #2. Stick with me while I build a case.
 
Let me preface by saying that regional traditions that depart from the historical narrative while maintaining the spirit of things are quite alright. But, let’s take note of a few things:
 
First, #1 is Resurrection Day, not Easter. Why? Because Resurrection Day (and the 6-day Passion story which precedes and with Resurrection accounts for more than a quarter of the Gospels) is the earth shattering, death conquering, history hanging event. The early Church saw it as so inextricable from their daily life that they celebrated it every Sunday. This led to Sunday supplanting Saturday as the Christ – centered holy day in most traditions. The annual remembrance attached to the Passover was a bonus remembrance. The idea of relegating the commemoration of what would become the crux of human history to a once a year dress up spectacled would never have crossed  their minds. Resurrection is #1. Even the mythical cross – species fertility spectacle of Easter can’t take it down (but that’s another story for another day). So, then what of Christmas?

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Cultivating

From Consuming to Cultivating and Creating

Cultivating
Today, as we begin the final two weeks of our Road A or Road A discernment process, I’d like to share some words that are not my own. You are getting plenty of mine, yes? This is part of a blog post from the Gospel coalition that I came across just yesterday. Written by a gentlemen name Trevin Wax. Don’t know him but was impacted by his thoughts about one aspect of church. Here’s the link to the whole thing
 
 
It’s time to shift your mindset. You shouldn’t look at the church as if you were a consumer, expecting a certain kind of experience. Now is the time you should ask, “How can I create or cultivate that life changing culture and experience for someone else?” Once you move from seeing yourself as a consumer, to a creator or cultivator, you will arrive at the place where pouring into others brings just as much (if not more) joy than when others were pouring into you.
 
As we grow in holiness and discipleship, we must move from seeing ourselves as passive consumers of experiences that other people have created for us, and begin to see ourselves as ministers through whom God can work in the lives of the people coming up behind us.
 
Grandma’s Christmas Brunch
Imagine it’s Christmas morning, and Grandma has gotten up every Christmas morning for 30 years and fixed everyone a big brunch — bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, eggs, and fruit salad. Year after year, she joyfully spreads out that food for everyone to feast on. At some point, if Grandma gets sick, or if Grandma has trouble pulling it off, or if by chance death takes her sooner than you expect, everyone else at the table will have to wake up and realize that if someone doesn’t do what Grandma did, we’ll never have this experience again.

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Handshake

Consensus

Handshake

     Consensus. A general agreement. In our case- unity in the Spirit. Achieved not by the means of democracy or business, but rather by the means of receiving and sharing God’s grace. Unity in the Spirit.

     As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3

     I’ve been using that word quite a bit in this season. Thought I’d take a minute today to make sure we know what that looks like in our setting as water’sEDGE.

     Back in November 2017, we brought a new vision for the spiritual administration before our community of believers and one key part of its construction is a return to a practice of the early church. Agreement (consensus) in the Holy Spirit. Our Leadership Board, which is charged with official decision-making, has been learning and exercising consensus successfully since the beginning of 2018.

     Because of the big decisions before us in this moment, I have been asked how consensus would be reached as to whether water’sEDGE chooses to:

A. Search Out and Grab on to God’s Vision/Holy Spirit’s Movement for The Next Decade and Beyond or A. Finish Well


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Fork in the Road

Testing God’s Will

Fork in the Road
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:1-2
 
     Around water’sEDGE these days, there is a whole lot of trying to test God’s will going on. Maybe there is a level of fear that we might make a bad decision or two, as well. In the midst of seeking God’s direction, we can get worried that choosing one good road or another good road might, we might somehow miss the mark and God won’t be pleased and then we will be lousy Kingdom citizens and maybe God will be disappointed in us. I doubt it.
     Several years ago, when faced with some roads out ahead and the choice
of which to choose, Tonni and I spent a long time considering, praying, and listening. The Spirit spoke clearly on some possibilities, not so much so on other options. As time drew near for decision making, I was racking my brain and wringing my hands and wrestling quite a bit.  Then, a good friend and mentor just looked at me one day and said, “Do you really think that which direction you choose to go in service to the Kingdom is all that important to God?”

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

Meeting Together

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.Hebrews 10:23-25

These past two weeks, as we consider being+becomingDISCIPLES, this word from Hebrews has been our guide. It is true that God is faithful and therefore we have hope. Hope in Christ will never disappoint. As we are in a season for prayer and discernment as to just how we will continue to our best effort at love and good deeds, I wanted to remind you that coming to agreement in the Holy Spirit as to our future course will require that we do not give up meeting together. I want to encourage all of us (that is, to fill us with courage) to do just that whenever possible. Over the next several weeks, we have the following opportunities to gather as the body of Christ, the whole people of water’sEDGE.

  • Sunday worship. The April and May teaching is direct from our Methodist heritage, being+becomingDISCIPLES of Jesus Christ. Being in worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a means of experiencing God’s grace and wisdom together.
  • Wednesday prayer @7 each week until May 16. The Holy Spirit works in, between, and through God’s people when they gather and listen.
  • Sunday Sharing. 11ish. Sunday April 22, May 6 &20. A time for water’sEDGE to talk it over. To hear what the Lord is saying to us in worship, sacraments, prayer gatherings, and in our holy conversations.
Honoring God is a community undertaking. Encouraging one another requires us being together. Agreement in the Spirit comes through comes through receiving God’s grace and wisdom as the body. Please make it a priority, in this time of decision and vision for the future, to be part of all of these opportunities to meet together. God is speaking. He will guide us through. 


why?

Wresting With the Big Questions

why?
It came to me in one of our prayer gatherings a few weeks ago. A recollection as much as a revelation. 13 years ago, a good friend who was consulting with my church told our leadership that very thing, “wrestle with the big questions.” He told us to let go of the little things. If we look to God and choose our weapons from His arsenal, God will always show up and lead us on.
 
On Monday of this week, I sent you a letter in which I outlined the counsel and challenge I have put before our Leadership Board.  I encourage you to join us in working out the questions before us; coming to God in worship, prayer, service, and Christian conferencing, so that together we can hear from the mind of God and be empowered to work as God calls us to.
 
If you haven’t already worked through the length of the letter I sent, please do so prayerfully. The next phase will surely be an exciting one. Don’t worry it too much either. The one guy in the Bible who wrestled with God got to be the father of God’s chosen people. He’s going to get us to the place where we best serve the Kingdom.
 
I’m humble and blessed to serve with you, water’sEDGEMay the Holy Spirit guide, empower, and guard us as we see God’s hand at work in and through us.


Prayer Gatherings

Prayer Gatherings – Wednesdays At 7pm

Prayer Gatherings
I have seen the miraculous work God does in bringing willing disciples to prayerful agreement. If water’sEDGE is willing, God will do this work in us. I now invite our church once again to come together in six weeks of concentrated prayer on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm beginning this Wednesday April 11. Come and pray that God gives us His vision for the road before us. These prayer meetings will lead up to the next physical meeting of the Leadership Board on Tuesday, May 22 at 7 pm. Here, we will listen again for the voice of the Lord and to each other. All the water’sEDGE community is welcome to be a part of the gathering. Consensus formation will, at times, need to take place with only the Board present.


being-and-becoming-disciples

being+becomingDISCIPLES – Apr. 4, 2018

being-and-becoming-disciples

Who Says You’re Not Perfect?

“Who says? Who says you’re not perfect?” sings the auto-tuned chanteuse. (When I Googled the lyric, it suggested “who says you’re not perfect?”) Oh, the irony.

Self-empowerment is all the rage at the moment. Our young people are growing up in a moment in time in which any suggestion that there might still be room for growth or improvement in someone’s life is called “________ shaming” or some equally vitriolic term. Taylor Swift will label you a hater. No one (at least no one who agrees with all this in principle) can be told they are less than what they are meant to be. “I make no apologies, this is me.”

Now, before Taylor swoops in over my house and you stop reading and send me an angry email, please know that I am all for the understanding that we live in a world that desperately needs to learn how to embrace and care for one another. There’s some clear call on our lives to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we fail to do so, our witness suffers.


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