Meetings. Why do we dread them? What can we do about them? Are they really missional? In many corporate settings, meetings are the inevitable waste of time and energy. When they happen in the context of church people often feel one or more of the follo…
I love that my daughter still wants me to read her bedtime stories. Some days its the only chance I get to escape into my imagination and create new worlds that mirror ours.
The important parts of a good story always have a thread of truth – no matter how creative or fictitious the story is. This is one of the factors that made Jesus’ parables so effective. He spoke in a story people could understand but put the truth in the story as well.
Take the parable of the sower as an example. At first glance it seems like a story about gardening. But once you dig deeper (put intended) into who Jesus is, the story takes on a whole new meaning.
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
Typically I love to go to sleep with the sounds of crickets chirping. Its a very peaceful, soothing sound that comforts me an lulls me to sleep.
But then there are those times when the sound of crickets is awkward.
A few weeks ago I experienced one of those times. I was teaching the first session of a Bible Study at church and we were looking at the Great Commission. Matthew 28:16-20 – Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Its one of my favorite passages. I asked the class if they knew what the mission of our church was and to my delight they could name the mission of the UMC perfectly! Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I should have stopped there. They’ll all aced that part. I shouldn’t have asked the next question but I felt like I was on a roll….
I asked, “How do we do that here? In other words – do you know our vision?”
It wasn’t peaceful. It wasn’t soothing.
The good news is that it wasn’t peaceful for the class either. They weren’t complacent that they didn’t know the mission. They were concerned. They wanted to be able to articulate why we do what we do. We spent the rest of the class listing things that we do to live out the mission. Even after getting a closer look at our vision they still seemed to be concerned that “transforming the world” is to big a job for us to do.
Transforming the world is too big a job for us to do…alone. But we aren’t alone. God is with us. The incarnational nature of our faith gives us a picture and an experience of God being with us. Our mission IS big -but it’s not bigger than our God. Its not too much for us to handle when we are walking with God and living into all that God calls us to be.
As I went to sleep that night I was comforted by the sound of crickets for another reason. They reminded me that not everyone knows the love of God like I do. And I get to get up everyday and transform the world with a God who transformed me.
Until Everyone Hears,
I recently went to a communications conference in Louisville, KY where I met some amazing people and stretched my brain to think about new ways to reach people. Usually at a conference like this I find that something I just discovered is already out of…
Forgiving God, how quick we are to see the sins in the lives of others and seek to judge them, ignoring our own sinful nature. Help us to live into the freedom of forgiveness for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering that we are not to cast stones but to live a life transformed by your grace and forgiveness. Amen.
Here is a guest post today from the amazing Rev. Pam McCurdy at Bethany UMC!!
Bethany UMC’s Walking Prayer Group meets on Sunday afternoons. We begin with a devotion and pray and then it’s time for our walk. Sometimes we walk in the neighborhoods around the church and on other occasions we walk the trails or tracks of our local parks. I wrote this devotion for a Sunday when we walked at Mud Creek Soccer Complex, which has a giant oval track, several fields and a great playground. It’s a busy place where our community gathers for soccer practice, games, exercise and fun.
Walking Prayer Group Devotion
February 28, 2016
I have been thinking about “circles” lately. No worries, I won’t break out singing “The Circle of
Life” from The Lion King. Maybe I am thinking about circles because we are about to walk “around in circles”.
Okay, yes, the track is really in the shape of an oval. Work with me.
Anyway, a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. It is said to be “never ending.” God’s love is never ending. That’s good to know. We never have to fear a shortage of God’s love. There’s enough to go around. There’s enough of Divine love for God to share it with all of creation into infinity and way, way, way beyond it.
We also use the word “circle” to talk about our relationships. i.e. “church circle”, “social circle”, “circle of friends”, or “circle of influence.” We are connected to others in these circles by kinship, interest, careers, politics, beliefs or more. There is “something” or “someone” that brings us together to form these “circles.”
As Christians, we are brought together through the experience of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are a diverse circle of “believers” growing in grace. We are a diverse circle of believers called to love God with our heart, being and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.
This “Christian Circle” is designed to be expandable. It’s been that way for over 2000 years.
So, let’s expand the “circle of believers”. It grows when we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage others to experience saving grace. It grows when the community around us encounters the never ending love of God through our words and deeds.
Matthew 22:36-40 Common English Bible (CEB)
36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 3 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.b40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
John 13:34-35 Common English Bible (CEB)
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Rev. Pam McCurdy
Today is my birthday!!!!!!!! Yay me!! Everyone should celebrate who they are once in a while.So my birthday gift to you is the following list of leadership tips I’ve gained in my studies. Its very scientific. Everyone should read it because it will mak…
I will get to what a Corby is in a second. But first think about those times in your life when you conquered a new challenge. Perhaps it was learning to ride a bicycle or applying and interviewing for a new job or getting off the bunny slope or applying for a doctorate. In all of those types of situations who was there with you? Most of the time you probably had someone there cheering you on. For me, my dad ran next to me when the training wheels finally came off. Susan told me I needed to use my gifts in a more challenging place. Nicole and Hans sat with me on the ski lift and let me fall on top of them. And Rick said “The time is now.” Not all of these instances were huge successes but the process of taking a risk and the connections with these people were priceless.
All of the cheerleaders in my life have made me who I am. I could have gotten here without them but the journey would have been much more slow and much less fun. Recently God has placed a new cheerleader in my life. Her name is Corby. Corby is a smart, sassy, petite, fierce, beauty queen, high heel designer shoe wearing, woman of God encourager. I probably left off a few key adjectives but I want you to keep reading. She is new on our staff and works with the children, women, and hospitality teams -and exudes the Holy Spirit. Oh and she’s also a certified life coach and chaplain for the Miss Oklahoma pagent. Her husband has written several books, one of which is “Everyone Needs a Sam.” It is about mentors and encouragers in our lives.
After reading it I realized that Corby has become my Sam (Frodo’s friend who carried him when he needed it the most). Corby has helped me to truly believe that with God all things are possible. She sends me texts often to let me know that I’m on the right track. She hears negativity and turns it into something positive. She is a prayer warrior who will fast and pray for any need small or large because she knows it is important to you.
When you are in leadership, people can often seem to be against you as they live in the tension of change. I’m honored that God sent me Corby just when I needed her most. Look for the Corbys or Sams in your life and stay connected to them as you make transitions in your life. No one does things alone and honoring your encouragers enables you to be all you can be and helps you encourage others in the future.
Until Everyone Hears,
Transformative leadership connects people with God and each other so that they may grow to be the people they were created to be. I believe that every person can grow in intelligence, relationships, and spirituality. The Means of Grace help us achieve this growth. The Wesleyan Means of Grace are spiritual practices that enables us to live out our faith. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that God’s grace is unearned and that we are not to be idle waiting to experience it. The Means of Grace are ways God works in the interiority of a person that overflows into the church or a group of people. This means that spiritual practices can be both individual and communal. Individual practices include reading, meditating on and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending corporate worship, healthy living, sharing our faith with others, doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others. Communal practices include regularly sharing in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), Bible study, seeking justice, working to end oppression and discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor.When people do this together the church can grow as well. My vision is to help others to improve and grow in their knowledge, spirit, relationship, and leadership skills so that they can fulfill the mission of the church. The Means of Grace offer me a toolbox of practices to lead others in the interconnectedness of all of these skills.
When disciples have a growth mindset, they understand that leadership can be developed. Leaders with this mindset will focus on improvement and transformation instead of worrying about checking off their todo list. They work hard to learn more and reach more people. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Education Department, we know that people who learn this mindset show greater motivation and unlock their potential.
I used to think that one day I’d become a leader. I felt like it was a linear progression in my career path. But unlocking the discovery of a growth mindset, made me realize that my potential for greater intelligence, leadership skills, and holistic improvement was within my own ability to cultivate.
Think about your house plants. You may feel as if you either have a green thumb or that anything green that crosses your doorway will wither instantaneously. Yet with a bit of repotting, pruning, fertilizer, watering, sunshine, and seasonal placements most plants with thrive and grow.
Your leadership abilities are the same way. In the right location and with the right fuel and nurturing, your ability to create a synergistic environment can thrive and grow. Never doubt that Ina world of constant change that you cannot change as well. Stretch yourself to learn something new. Love challenges that cause your to grow. Cultivate your resilience in the face of setbacks and you will see your efforts pay off!
Until Everyone Hears,