The Morgan Church Devotional

a pastor's thoughts about...uhm...stuff

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

follower of Jesus. husband & father. friend. pastor.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Who Are You?

Most know this song as the theme for CSI, but for me it will always be an anthem of my youth (along with the other Who songs used on the other 12 CSI shows--good thing that pete townsend was prolific).

we loved it. we loved it because it expressed the angst we teenagers felt at not really belonging anywhere (we also loved it because it snuck the F-word onto the radio--which apparently you don't have to sneak too much to do anymore).

who are tell me where to go or what to do?
who are make me labor at some dead end job?
who are love me when i really don't feel like being loved?

it really resonated (and still resonates at times) with me.

life is full of alienation. life is full of wanting to belong, but only if it's on your own terms. thus life has it's disappointments. life has it's rejections. it's full of pink slips and sailed ships. it is no wonder to me that people get high or have promiscuous sex lives...they are looking to connect, to belong to something bigger than themselves, to have a sense of meaning and purpose to thier lives.

and that is what the Gospel brings! meaning, purpose, connection...

it answers the question "who are you?" with the statement "i am God, know Me."
and it answers the question "who am i?" with "i am a child of God, chosen out of this world to do what God wants me to do--and with His help and with His grace, that's what i will do."

remind yourself of that today. and tell someone you know the real gospel...not the one about rules and church life...the one about a God who loves them enough to die so they could belong to His family.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Life IS Good

to be honest i could complain with little effort. if i looked (i wouldn't even have to look hard) i could find something to whine about...something negative...something down...something.

but this is what happened to me today:

i picked up the kids a little early from day care for convenience sake. when we got home i told them they could play outside and, of course, they were happy to. i went in and began prepping for dinner. the first step in dinner preparation is finding the right can't cook well if you don't have the right music playing--it has something to do with putting the proper amount of spices i think.

the second step is to decide what it is you are cooking. i had no idea...but with the most excellent choice of tunes (josh rouse--1970's sounding rock/soul (it was released in 2003)) perfectly capturing the mood of the was...well... je ne sais quois? (holy moly--i spelled it right first try--what a day!)

at one point, with a song prompting a soul-filled sense of satisfaction, i went to the window to see if i could see the kids. there they were, playing nicely in a puddle of water (the fact they were on the other side of the glass and 20 feet away masked the fact that maybe they weren't playing so nicely--i don't know. they looked happy tho!)

i had this profound experience. i was aware of God's great, abounding, benevolent, overwhelming love. it was great. i thought about my wife, who, like me for the most part is learning to love unselfishly...who could be a better partner? i thought about my children. they are great kids...they irk me sometimes (like just now when they wouldn't eat the wonderful work of art, er, meal that i just cooked)...but they are special, special kids.

at that moment i could not think of anything that could possibly make my life better.

good God.
good wife.
good kids.
good tunes.
good food.

good life.

make yours good, too.

Step out into the sun
Step out into the world and love someone
Save yourself from hate
Save yourself from hate and all the hassle
And you people all know know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)
Yeah you people all know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)

Spread the love vibrationUh-huhSpread the love vibrationUh-huh

Now everybody's scared
Scared of being lonely and abandoned
If you find someone who cares
If you find someone to love and understand you

Then you people all know know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)
Yeah you people all know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)

Spread the love vibrationUh-huhSpread the love vibrationUh-huh

Yeah you people all know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)
Yeah you people all know what I'm talkin' about
(Yeah you people all know what he's talkin' about)

If you people all know what I'm talkin' abou
tSpread the love vibrationUh-huhSpread the love vibration
Spread the love vibration
Spread the love vibration

love vibration
by josh rouse

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


what could be better than a nice spring day in vermont? to wake up early and still have it be settle down after work (well, on that one day a week i work) and still have time to go outside with the know that summer is on it's way...

it sure is nice.

The LORD is my Shepherd

This is amongst my favorite sermons. 5 words (4 if you use hebrew)...5 words and there's a whole sermon.


when you see "LORD" (instead of Lord) in your bible the writer is using the hebrew Name for God "I am". He is the One who is faithfully present. He's always there. He's never not going to be there. He is constant. No shifting sands, no prevelent winds. He is. He always was and He always will be. He will never not be. He is dependable. He will never let you down. it is who He is.


not maybe. not hopefully. not "if we're good enough". not if...i do this or that first. it is definite. i belong to Him and He belongs to me and there is nothing that can separate us.

The LORD is...


i know it is true...there are 6 billion people in the world and He is able to be the Shepherd to each and every one of us...but


The One who is always there...who will never let me down or disappoint me...the One who is Steady and Faithful and Dependable and Trustworthy--He is the One who is my Shepherd. He is the One who will feed me and protect me. He is the One who will chase away the bad guys. He is the One who will come after me when i am straying.

thanks be to God who constantly causes me to walk in triumphal procession.

Monday, March 27, 2006

See the Man...

Your brow is sweatin' and your mouth gets dry,
Fancy people go driftin' by.
The moment of truth is right at hand,
Just one more nightmare you can stand.

See the man with the stage fright
Just standin' up there to give it all his might.
And he got caught in the spotlight,
But when we get to the end
He wants to start all over again, hmm hmm,

yeah...that was me. bill and i sang a couple of songs at a "variety show" yesterday...b4 the show i noticed that he was nervous...i wasn't especially. i had thought i had gotten over that some time ago, not in an arrogant way...i just thought it wasn't going to bother me.

things were fine during bill's song, but i was only playing guitar...then during my song...well, uhm...

while we were back stage, i spoke with some high schoolers who were playing in a band and i asked them if they played out much...they didn't, so i gave them some advice, "just pretend you know what you're doing. people wont really notice if you make a mistake if you don't appear like you've made one. we began to play my song, i started choking! couldn't think straight...sweaty hands and lips (affecting the harmonica)...and during the second verse *poof* there went the lyrics! couldn't remember them for the life of me...then i remember what i told those kids, "just pretend you know what you're doing, they won't know any different"...i smiled and just jumped into the chorus...i have no idea what bill was playing, i just hope he'd follow along!

as it turned out, it wasn't so bad. i guess my advice worked! no one really the only people who know are the ones who read this blog.

which seems to be me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No Comment

Black Muddy River
by Hunter/Garcia

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain
And the stars start to splatter in the sky
When the moon splits the southwest horizon
With the scream of an eagle on the fly

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

Black muddy river
Roll on forever
I don't care how deep or wide
If you got another side
Roll muddy river
Roll muddy river
Black muddy river

When it seems like the night will last forever
And there's nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
And sing me a song of my own

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Name (Teach Your Children)

"Hear O Israel:
the LORD our God, the LORD is one."

this is who He is. He is the One who is faithfully present. the One who is always there. the One who will always be ready to defend. He is, He is, He is. depend on Him. trust in Him. rely on Him. His Name is His character.

"and you shall love the LORD your God will all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength."

be sincere. recognise what He has done for you and love Him for it. as we do that, our choices better reflect His character being developed in us. in other words, we choose His way over our own way more and more.

"Diligently teach your children"

we all know children learn best by example. but that doesn't mean we shouldn't teach--actively tell, show, instruct them in how to live. i've been very conscious of this as of late. my children don't understand what godly character can they? there have been instances where i have been angry with them for doing something and i was tempted to (justifiably) yell at them. but then i thought, they need to learn is time to diligently teach them, not to scream at them.

it is our job to teach our children well.

"talk about them when you are at home, when you walk about, when you lie down and when you get up"

just as we are to be sincere in what we believe, we should be sincere in what we teach. lesson time is great...but our best teaching time is when it comes out naturally in the course of day to day life.

what a great honor and priviledge it is to be parents! stewards of the greatest gift of all. let's take it seriously.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In Your Light We See Light

so says Ps 36:9.

we woke up at 530 this morning was light. oh how i love spring.

in Him was life and that life was the Light of men. that Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all--if we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. if we walk in the light as he is in the light then we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin

or, in the words of those highly respected theologians jones/page/plant:

In The Light
And if you feel that you can't go on. And your will's sinkin' low
Just believe and you can't go wrong.
In the light you will find the road. You will find the road

Oh, did you ever believe that I could leave you, standing out in the cold
I know how it feels 'cause I have slipped through to the very depths of my soul.

oh, I would share your load. Let me share your load.
let me share, share your load

And if you feel that you can't go on In the light you will find the road

Though the winds of change may blow around you,
but that will always be so
When love is pain it can devour you, if you are never alone
I would share your load. I would share your load
let me, oh, let me In the light

Everybody needs the light. In the light, in the light, in the light Light, light, light, in the light Light, light, light, in the light, ooh, yeah Light, light, light, in the light

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And So it Often Is...

Judas Kiss

A friend, a follower, a companion on the way
A trusted confident…a brother some would say

I walked with Him, I looked up to Him, I trusted Him
I wanted Him to be
All He was meant to be…or maybe
It was what I meant Him to be…

And it’s not like He let me down, it’s not like He put me down, it’s not like He kept me down
It was more like I had eyes
But I still couldn’t see

And for 30 pieces I sold Him out
I betrayed Him…I caved in to the demons
That raged in side of me…

And sad is this song, and sad are these words
And sad is the lilt to my voice…but nothing
Is sadder than this

That of all my friends, He was my best friend,
Sometimes my only friend…and still
I betrayed Him with a kiss

What is your silver? What is this…
You place before Him?
The thing you wish you’d never do…?
What is your Judas’ kiss?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


"Come in here and have a taste
what's one more hopeless case
when your short wave dies and
there's no one to listen
stars grow cold in your solar system"

"taste and see that the LORD is good" writes the Psalmist. or, in other words, "give Him a try". i often suggest that to people...i do so because i'm convinced that walking with Jesus is better than anything. but there's a cavaet...

you can't just "try" Him. you can't come to the table and nibble. you have to experience the full flavor of an entire meal, if you will.

you have to recognise that your life no longer belongs to you...He isn't a genie...He isn't a self help guru...He is God and we belong to Him.

we must live life for His glory--not our own.
we must live life in His way--not our own.
we must live life following His plan--not our own.

because "we are not our own, we were bought with a price".

tough? yep. the hardest thing there is...but the only thing that satisfies.

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."
GK Chesterton

Saturday, March 11, 2006

RIP: Tom Fox

i didn't know him, but he was my brother.

i don't remember hearing his name, until now that he is dead.

now that he is in the great cloud of witnesses surrounding me i am compelled to remember my brothers still being held: Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74. these men are Christian peacemakers, ironically held by those whom they came to help.

of all the ways to leave this earth, i cannot think of a more honorable one than mr. fox's.

God have mercy.

Note: Mystery Solved

my wife and i moved our couch yesterday. there, along with various other things you would not care to know about, was the long lost television remote thus ending fatherly suspicions and accusations.

is there an illustration in that?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

From a Favorite Song Writer:

by Bill Mallonee

from a simple plant…that was long growin’ there
from king of the world…to a worst nightmare
got you an old recipe…and some chemicals to stir
it might have felt like God once…but now it’s lucifer

Oh! To just be clean!
And you know the thing is sleeping
Just a scratch below your skin
And God knows if you wake it up
You’ll have to calm it down again
And I wonder what it felt like
when the waters flooded in
from a dam that you had broken
and it was too hard to swim

and it feels like a hunger…but you cannot feed the thing
and it always seems to want a song…that you can never really sing
and it never shows the truth…till the poisons leakin’ through
what you thought you were doing…is now doing you

Oh! To just be clean!

now it could take a few years…to dig out of this mine
with a shaft so deep and dark…well, it could take a lifetime
when choices are a like diamonds…you found down there one night
you gotta grab the one that’s your true self…and bring it to the light

Oh! To just be clean!

Loving God, Loving People.

reading another blog today i was challenged to ponder this. we say it a lot...but what does it mean?

the writer said he thought it was antinomian (meaning, basically without law or moral restraint). i would disagree. Jesus said doing these two things actually fulfills the law.'s a good question...what does this statement mean?

Pop Quiz (I Was So Much Older then, I am Younger Than That Now)

i had a professor in college who once asked this question on a pop quiz:

what were the names of the hebrew spies who did not bring a good report?

well, that doesn't really matter. for the record their names were...oh who cares? the two who matter are joshua and caleb--the two who brought back the good report!

i don't think that professor was a bad person...he was a nice guy, for the most part. altho i did do my best to avoid classes he taught, as i disagreed with his idea of education. he said he asked questions about obscure facts because "if you know the obscure than you are sure to know the obvious".

no. people spent so much time trying to guess which bit of useless info he would ask about, that we often overlooked important stuff.

christians are often like that.

first, we think God is that He is going to test us on all the little information. but He doesn't...He's concerned with the big things:

1. is Jesus your Lord and Saviour?
2. are you loving Him?
3. are you loving people?

this is true:
at one point in my christian life i thought it was unspiritual to slurp coffee. it's very easy to see where that belief came from. when i slurped something when i was young, i got a slap on the back of the head...that kinda reinforced it, you know.

so imagine my dismay at my first pastor's gathering and all these guys are SLURPING THIER COFFEE!!!! oh my. shook me up a bit.

now...if you asked me what is spiritual, i probably would n't have listed not slurping...but when i examined my heart, i had to be honest and know that i did actually think that. i drank to the glory of God and those poor slobs (apologies if you're a slurper) couldn't drink like a saint like me!

aren't you glad you didn't know me back then?

how did my sitting up on my non slurping high horse touch God's heart? it didn't. it was senseless...and not very loving.

hmmm...i was so much older then; i'm younger than that now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ship of Fools

"Though I could not caution all,
I still might warn a few
Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools"

fm Psalms:
"don't let me be ahsamed, O LORD
for i have called on You.
Let the wicked be ashamed..."

fm Proverbs:
"where there is no counsel, the people fall;
but in the multitude of counselors
there is safety"

and then in the gospel of Mark we see this exchange:

*self righteous man*:
Good teacher, what must i do to have eternal life?
don't sin.
well...that's easy enough. i haven't sinned in a long, long time.
then Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said:
here's your one thing...the one thing you lack...the one thing you hold back from God...go get your money (the money you love) and give it to the poor, then go get your cross and follow me".

the man went away sorrowful...he liked sailing on the ship of fools.

here's what we can learn:
1. what's our "one thing"...abraham's issac...eve's apple (or was it adams?)...ananias' field...cain's pride...whatever. give it to God (or raise your flag on that ship of fools).

2. it is our duty to caution folks about the ship of fools. but let me point out one important part of the passage: "Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said..." people really need a sense of our love and concern for them if they will ever listen to us. they will never hear us if we don't

3. in spite of our love and concern for people, they may still turn away sad to raise thier flag on their ship of fools.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Memory Like a ...

what was that saying???

in numbers 11 the israelites are complaining about thier current situation and lauding it's former situation.

"don't you remember? we had leeks, and onions, and melons and fish! oh! that was livin' wasn't it??? now? all we have is this manna...yuch." forgetting, ofcourse, that this (yuch) manna is the food that God has provided for them.

in the passage, we see a few things that might help us.

1. Beware the Trouble Maker! (v4)
there was a mixed crowd...part hebrew, part gentile...folks they picked up along the way, i guess. they stirred up trouble...there are always people in our lives (or the lives of our churches) who just like to stir up trouble. they will be "part spiritual, part...well, not so spiritual"...they will point out the problems (altho they might not have much of a solution) and remind you of the way things used to be (or the way they could be, if only...). they are bent on trouble...give them long enough and they will have trouble with you.

2. Focus on God's Blessing (vv 7-9)
God supernatually supplied the food they needed for thier survival. my guess is, had they lists of ingredients and nutritional information, it would prove to be perfectly suited for desert conditions. heavenly MRE's.

3. The Greener Grass is Probably Filled with Pesticide (vv31-34)
wouldn't it be great if God just...or if God did that...or if i had that wife...or those kids...or that church...or that house...or that_________. no, it wouldn't. life is life. you are you. if you are miserable'll grow miserable then. learn to love God and be content with what He has blessed you with (even if it's just manna in the desert).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

By the Way...

that last entry was a joke...

it would not be a sacrifice for me to give those things up...i gave them all up years ago.

the most difficult thing i ever did during lent was give up my daily dose of the simpsons...i had committed to the Lord that i would not watch it and that i would take that time and pray...

i think that is an important part of self denial...doing something constructive. if you skip lunch, great! but if you skip lunch and pray for your co workers, better! if you quit smoking, great! but if you quit smoking and give the $ you would spend on it to missions, better! ifyou give up your daily tv time, great! but if you give up your daily tv time and spend it playing a game with your family, better!

lots of people give stuff up...and that's great! but few of us do what is better.

so, let us.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

For Those So Inclined...

today begins lent...a time of focus and preparation for the "big week" (what the greeks call Easter week)...for many it is a time of self denial.

i think this year i'm giving up drinking, smoking, & chewing.

don't you think the Lord will be impressed by that?