The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Locke's Meaning

i am intrigued with locke's character. he feels useless and meaningless...
his life has amounted to nothing and he has little to offer.

even after eko explains how important his life is...he's stuck in this self pity pond.

he saved the life of his undeserving father.
he's touched other people's lives.
he's defended claire.
he helped charlie overcome his addiction to heroin.
he helped eko realize his "purpose".
he even saved desmond's life.

yet he keeps focusing on "his destiny"...and how he hasn't fullfilled it.

and he fails to see that life and purpose and meaning and hope are all tied up in the every-day-ness of life.

forest for the trees indeed.

somebody on that writing staff must be a believer.

watching tape

sounds boring, huh?

but athletes watch tape all the time. they study and learn and grow by watching other players on video tape.

pitchers watch hitters.
hitters watch pitchers.

if our national pasttime is fading into history as i said yesterday, what can we as the church learn by "watching the tape"?

any thoughts?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Home Run?

i don't think there is anything quite as exciting as a homerun. especially a "walk off" homerun.
bottom of the ninth...two out...the opposing team's closer on the mound.

tension! suspense! pressure!
i could never call it like they do on tv or's an art, really.

i don't love baseball just because of the homerun, there are other reasons, too. in fact, most sports fans of my generation and older love's our favorite sport by far.


our fathers loved baseball.

they would watch it on the t.v. or listen to it on the radio as we drove in the car. they would read about it and talk about it and dream about it (every body had a dad or an uncle or "almost made" the pros). if we couldn't talk to our dads about "important" stuff, if we felt we (or they) couldn't relate, if we thought they didn't care, there was always baseball to bridge the gap. common ground...non threatening common ground.

there was a game on tv just about every week...saturday afternoons the tv was on in the background filling our homes with the sounds of baseball. and then, of course, we had T.W.I.B. giving us highlights saturday mornings! local tv stations broadcast games several nights a week and they were on at normal times...days or early evenings.

you could get a pick up game going in no time. i think we played just about every day in the field around the block. or we would play our version of stickball (tennis ball with a thin, yellow wiffle ball bat)...we played little league ball, too. winning got important and some guys rode the bench alot...but everyone got in for at least an inning or two. i think we had fun.

the players were heroes. we didn't know about their drinking or corousing...we didn't know they cheated...we didn't hear them cursing...they were like our dads, only better at hitting a little ball. we wanted to be like them...not just hit or pitch like them, we wanted to be like them.

we didn't mind the game took a couple of hours to play...we had a couple of hours. we didn't care about the cat & mouse of each at bat. the step out of the batter's box or off the mound. the throws over to first to check the runner didn't matter--it was a part of the greater excitement. we expected the manager to come out of the dugout to calm down his starter or to give the reliever time to warm up. life was meant for living and there wasn't much more to life than a bb game on a saturday afternoon. you did other things, you worked in the yard or had a cookout, but when something exciting was happening, you dropped it and went to the tv.

but we've lost our love for baseball. some thing has changed...maybe it's us...maybe it's bb...maybe it's both...and i don't think we can ever re capture the magic of's a slow paced game in a fast paced world. the stature of players is lowered with each drunken episode or with each steriod scandal. we can't change those things. it is the way it is. bb has been replaced by faster paced things like football and basketball and (arg!!!) NASCAR...

bb will be forgotten in a generation or two. there are two outs and the mighty casey has two strikes and a bum knee...

it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


it's not that i hated our trip to jersey (and short trip to baltimore)...on some levels i liked it.

i liked the food (white castles and pizza!)...
it was nice to see our families...
i got to watch the mets-yankees game (one of the ones the mets won!) on tv with little or no interuption...
it was fun to watch our kids play with their cousins...

there was some good in it and on certain levels i enjoyed myself.


but every time i encountered a car double parked...every time i was cut off...every time i heard music blaring late at night, every time i heard some one cursing without restraint, every time i smelled city smells, every time there was a crowd or traffic or anything like that...

i thought: i want to go home.

that's a nice picture of life here on has it's perks, there are things we enjoy about it...maybe even things we don't want to give up...


but we still long for our Home.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


"everyone i know says they need just One Thing
but what they really mean is they need just one thing more"

the christian life is the process of learning to need just One Thing.


that's what the ascetics were doing. they left thier families and friends and money and everything else to live in caves or trees or where ever, apart from everybody else...all to demonstrate thier need for only One Thing.


more than a few of them were sincere in what they did. they really wanted only One Thing. we may not agree with how they went about their lives...i think the need for family and community is biblical...but, in a sense, they were on to something--and i admire them for that.

they wanted One Thing and they wanted Him so much that they forsook a ton of other things... just to have that One Thing.

i am challenged by that. i'm not thinking of going out and living in the woods...but i am challenged to live my life a little differently than i do now.

how about you? do you want One Thing, or just one thing more?

Monday, May 22, 2006

I Love Vermont

after a week in jersey...that's all i have to say.

i'll be back to posting this week.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lessons Learned

once i was working on some pipes under the sink and joseph (who was then about 3) climbed underneath with me. he was always interested in fixing things and building things (he still is)... as he watched me intently i turned to him and said "son, you can learn a lot of things from me. this ain't one of them.".

these are the things i hope my kids learn from me:

a sense of fairness.
to stick up for the little guy.
i don't have to answer someone's arrogance, pretty soon everybody realizes the jerk they are.
don't play all your cards at once.
i am the only person to put his head on my pillow.
grey hair is cool.
treat people nicely even if they don't deserve it.
keep right, pass left.

there are, of course, many other things i could mention.

but this day, i remember the things i learned from watching my dad.

Mr. Eko & the Myth of Sisyphus

What a great exchange between locke and mr. eko in last night's lost.

mr. eko is compelled by a dream to "rescue" locke, who has "lost his way". the work they are doing, say the people in his dream (the recently departed ana lucia & his dead brother), is very important--the most important work there is. he must now help locke find "his question mark".

if you do not watch the show, it would help to know that locke's character believed he was brought to the island for a purpose. he talked about fate and faith and was often at odds with the more rational doctor, jack.

but now, locke has lost his way. he is questioning his purpose for being on the island...he is discouraged because things are falling apart and he is hopeless because everything he has worked for has now been revealed to be meaningless.

mr. eko tells him his life is not meaningless. his work has purpose, it brings hope. then he shares his own story and points out how locke's life is interwoven with his own (and everyone elses) and his meaning is, in part, locke's reason. he would never have found his meaning if it weren't for locke...

the myth of sisyphus is an essay by albert camus, an existentialist philosopher.

existenialists believe that "existence" is more important than "being"...or, you might say, what you do is more important than who you are. what you experience now is more important than what happens later...thus dismissing the idea of an afterlife and moral responsiblility to a greater Being...

they also generally agree that life is without meaning. i find them to be a dour bunch. but not camus, he was a little different.

sisyphus was a greek god who did something to make the other gods angry. they condemned him to push a rock up a hill for all of eternity... up he would go, straining against the weight of the rock...and each time he almost crests the hill, the weight of the rock forces the boulder back to the bottom where sisyphus must start over.

an awful existence. boring...mundane...with no hope of getting better.

gimme a bullet, will you?

camus tells us that is our life. as meaningless as sisyphus' stupid trek...up and down, up and down, up and down...why shouldn't we kill ourselves?

because we must imagine sisyphus happy. we must believe sisyphus finds meaning in his quest. we must have hope amidst the hopelessness.

i think mr. eko told us about one big reason to have this hope and meaning and happiness. we are intimately tied to one another. my life touches your life, your life touches mine and many others. my meaning is tied to yours and yours to mine and ours to everyone elses.

finding meaning in living your life for others. (oh...and not "the others")

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Holy Hootenanny, Batman!

interestingly, another blog i read had hottenanny in title...but i'm on tape on saturday night using the word, so i'm not a copycat...honest

on friday night bill c. and i drove down to the lowell congregational church for what they called a "jam session" but would be better titled, a hootenanny.

we arrived an hour early to introduce ourselves to the folks and get our names on the list of players. as people began arriving i noticed there wasn't a single person under 60 (aside from me...oh, and bill-i think). finally, another musician came that was about our age...but we were definitely out numbered...i was glad they didn't start picking on us...i can just imagine it:

"hey there, youngster! i was playing guitar befer yer daddy was born..." or "you play guitar like my gran-baby"...but they were all nice and kind...the most they said to us was "what was that? here talk into my good ear..." and stuff like that. about the most offensive thing was this exchange:

old guy: play the harmonica?
me: yes, i do.
old guy: what key is it?
me: G
old guy: can i play it?
me: what?
old guy: can i play it?
me: what?
old guy: can i play it? i promise i wont 'get nuttin' in it"--meaning saliva
me:, you can play this one (i reach in and pull out my oldest--and now discarded--harmonica)
old guy: wow! that sure does play nice.
me: yes. yes it did.


they allowed us to open the night...we had planned on singing some new songs but figured we should go ahead and fit in and sing some old standards...bill played guitar and sang, i played a little guitar and a backed him up with a vocal and played the harp (now that i've actaully played at a hootenanny, i can call my harmonica a "harp").

then we realised that the thing to do was to sit down with our instruments and join in with the others as they sang. and so we did. i'll be honest, aside from the hymns, i didn't know too many songs (other than having heard them in a movie or tv)...and i'm just not a big fan of country...but boy did i have a blast.

i'll tell you the truth...i have no idea how to play the harmonica. i really don't. and i'm far from being a real harp player like the old guy was...but it was a joy to play that thing!

but here's some things i either learned or had reinforced:

1. music is to be shared.
2. the quality of the moment is not based on the quality of the performance
3. good music is not pretentious
4. pretentious people stand out (and not in a good way)
5. old people tell the best jokes.

God, help me to not be pretentious.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I Believe...

in God's power to change me.

i'm not always so sure of my willingness to be changed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Someone's Knocking at Your Door

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock..."

so it says in the book of Revelation. we often use it in the context of evangelism...think of the hymns "softly and tenderly" etc...but in it's scriptural context it doesn't have to do with has to do with church.

Jesus is standing outside the door of the church and He's knocking! knocking!

this is striking because:

He's stuck outside! how can He be stuck outside of His church? the church is His body. the church is His bride...and He's stuck outside???

He's knocking! i don't know...if i came home as was locked outside of my house...i don't think i'd be knocking.

"don't i deserve better than that?" i would plead. "you have no right!" i would assert. "open this door!" i would demand. "yeah? well, i'm leaving...don't miss me when i'm gone", i would declare.

but Jesus knocks. not a demand, assertion, declaration or plea to be heard. nothing but "rap rap rap"; or was it "tap tap tap"?

what do we see here?

1. we can effectively shut Christ out of our lives
2. He will seek us out
3. God allows us choice
4. letting Him in results in the greatest benefit

do me a favor, open the door and let Him in.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


i've never been a big fan of jigsaw puzzles.

other people love them, tho. they enjoy the time it takes to find the right piece for the right's calming to them. to me, however, it is maddening. all those pieces, so similar in size and shape and color...some almost fit in other's spots...if not for this or that (ever so slight) difference...

plus, there is the problem of missing pieces or (worse yet) pieces of other puzzles mixed in. sometimes we only think there are missing pieces...or we can't imagine where this piece could possibly go!

i can understand someone getting excited as they begin to see the picture forming... "wow! there's the nose!" or "ohhh, i's...a...uhm...bird thingy...or something..." and i suppose people get a sense of accomplishment and well being when they complete a puzzle. "ahhh...there it is done, now we can mix it all up and put it back in the box!"

i've actually seen some folks laminate their puzzles and display them like artwork...i guess that is, at least, i don't know...something to do.

i guess all things being said, i'm not a big fan of the jigsaw puzzle.

they take a lot of work and the pay off isn't that great.

i do, however, love the jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor for the Christian life. because, truth be told, we are all individual jigsaw puzzles that God is putting together and then forming those together into a larger jigsaw puzzles.

we all start out a mess.
we all remain a mess for sometime.
as we grow we begin to bear the image of Christ,
but still have a way to go for that last piece to be placed.
we all have odd edges.
when those pieces are laid properly, they go together nicely.
while we don't have missing pieces, we feel like we do.
we all have extra pieces that need to be tossed out.
we all will be completed when we see Jesus.

it is our job to work along with God and put together our own puzzles.
to recognize He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (hence, no missing pieces) and get rid of those pieces that don't belong (bitterness, resentment, envy, lust, etc).
we have to confess our odd edges to Him and trust He will smooth them out a little in putting our puzzles together...

then we can begin to help each other put our puzzles together. it is hard work...tedious at times... ridiculous at other times...painful often times.

but, when that puzzle comes is worth being "laminated and displayed" all for the glory of God.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gimme Some O' Dat

"We have heard with our ears, O God;
our fathers have told us
what You did in their days,
in days long ago."

i get excited when i hear about God working in people's lives...the change He brings about when they surrender their lives fully to Him. it's like hearing a great love could it not warm your heart?

but, like you, i don't want to just hear about it...
i want to see it!
to experience it!
to join in with it!
i want to be a part of it!

and so i say, with the prophet Habakkuk (a great name, i think...)

"Lord we've heard about it...about all You have done in other places and other times...but now, O Lord, renew them in our day! in our time make them wrath, remember mercy"