The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A New Way to Think About Faith

i believe that if i jumped off a building i would go tumbling to the ground at 9.8 f/s (or what ever it is...) and crash to the ground and leave a crater and half my brains on the ground.

that's the truth...
i don't have to test it.
i don't question it.
it is true.

if i chose not to believe it...and jumped...

it would still be true. me believing it or not believing it doesn't change it's reality.

i believe Christianity to be true.

Jesus is who He says He is...

the Bible is what it says it is.

God is.

that's it.

my belief or lack of belief doesn't change that reality.

He will always be real. He will always be real.

He will always be real.

nothing and no one can change that.

so i could sit around mentally wrestling with it...

or i could just accept it.

that's why i don't go jumping off of buildings.

I Could...

not be a car salesman. nothing against them, but, by and large, i don't trust them very much. and the ones i do trust...well...i don't know if i should.

it's a generalization...i know. i'm sure there are good and decent car salesman around. you may even be one. i'm sorry i denigrated your profession. but i've bought a few cars in my life and always seem to come up on the losing end.

in fact, once when first moved to vermont, we were shopping for a second car. the owner of the small lot we were shopping at asked if we were new in town. "does it really show that much?" i thought...oh well. anyway, we told him yes, yes we were...i was the new assistant pastor at the morgan church..."oh yeah," he said, a look of recognition flashing on his face, "i saw that in the know..." [honest, this is what he said next] "my wife and i are thinking about trying a new church...maybe we'll come out to morgan."...

well, we didn't buy the car...and they didn't come to the morgan church. i often wonder if that was a flash of recognition or a flash of opportunity on his face.

i could not be a salesman of any type, i suppose. again, nothing against them. i know there are righteous and honorable salesman. people of integrity and honesty and goodness. but i couldn't sell something unless i was 100% convinced this is absolutely the best product of it's kind, anywhere, ever. there could be no draw backs...there could be no faults....there could be nothing negative about it at all, whatsoever.

there isn't a product on the market like that. i couldn't be a salesman.

that's why i'm a preacher.

first off, i don't have to sell anything. it's free.

but, more than that, i "sell" God's word.

and God's word has always now and forever will be true.


regardless of my presentation...

it's true.

regardless of my (and other's) inability to live up to it sometimes...

it's true.

regardless of my doubts...

it's true.

regardless of other people's doubts...

it's true.

despite attacks from other religions. despite attacks from the irreligious. despite attacks from other believers (yes, they do that sometimes). despite attacks from the enemy.

it's true.


Friday, September 29, 2006

I Am

moses had a problem or two.

he lacked credibility. he knew no one would listen to him...

first of all, he didn't speak well...he stuttered...or he had a lisp...or would mix his words up...? i don't know. but he didn't speak well.

he knew the israelites wouldn't listen to him. they already demonstrated that. "who made you a ruler over us?" in other words, "give me a break moses, you are a no body...we don't have to listen to you".

he knew pharoah wouldn't listen to him. in pharaoh's eyes, moses took all of his upbringing for granted and threw it away when he killed the egyptian. he chose to be allied with slaves over his place in the king's palace. he was a nobody...a nothing...he probably wouldn't even be able to have an audience with him, never mind have a real influence on him.

so, moses asked an understandable question..."uhm...i believe You are real... but they wont believe, who shall i say sent me?"

"I am".

in hebrew thought, names reveal character.

for instance, Jacob means something like "grabs at the heal" because while he was being birthed he grabbed at the heal of his twin, esau. this name/phrase also had the connotation of "supplanter"...or cheater, and it eventually characterized his, whether it was a case of correctly identified character or "self fulfilled prophecy", i don't know. some years later, jacob wrestles the "Angel of the LORD" and the Angel changes his name from "cheater" to "prince of God"...jacob becomes israel...once a a noble patriarch and leader.

character. what qualities are identified in the Name "I AM"?

Eternal Presence.

He is the God Who is HERE.
never not...

recognize this in your life.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

God's Word in My Words

Trouble comes and trouble goes;
But tell me I’d like to know why is it so?
I could walk about with a stupid pout
My heart out on my coat but what good would it do?
And I could ask eternally the same dumb questions and never see
This is not between me and her…

I had a friend thought he’d be my friend till the very end
But something got changed
Somewhere, somehow, something got crossed like lines and
It just ain’t the same
And I could cry for my hurt, kick at the dirt,
pretend I’m kicking at him
but I need to see, tho I’d like it to be,
this is not between him and me

Joseph went to prison for Godly wisdom,
there just was no other reason
but Joseph knew better, trusted grace not the letter
of the law for that season
and he rose like a king and ruled over everything
even his own family; and I need to see like Joseph did
that this is not between them and me

and I can tell a thousand tales of how friends failed other friends
but I’d be wasting my breath
because life gets breezy, and hearts break easy
at the drop of a laugh
and the truth of the matter is, although life is shattered
and I’m losing my breath…
this ain’t between her and me or him and me or them and me
it’s between me and you Lord…

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Question About Forgiveness

what good has it ever done you (or anyone, for that matter) to hold on to a grudge and not forgive?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Joseph & Jesus

joseph is commonly recognized as a "type of Christ". a type is an Old Testament character, object or situation that pre-figures Jesus and acts as a "calling card"...that the people of God would see it and then would recognize the "real thing" when He came.

for example, abraham's willingness to sacrifice isaac is a picture of God the Father being willing to sacrifice His own Son.

joseph (or any other person who is a type) wasn't Jesus. Jesus didn't make an appearance "in his form" nor did He inhabit his person for a short time. joseph was a real man who exhibited Christ-like character and God used him to do a great thing.

nor was it that he is only a literary figure...he was real. he lived and behaved as the bible says he did. and that behavior is pretty incredible.

i wonder if in the middle of his when he was just a slave (b4 he rose to prominence in potiphor's household) or when he was sitting in prison...if he had the same attitude.

i can only imagine that at times he did, but then in other times he struggled with it. that it was a growing process and he eventually came to realize God's hand on his life. would he have realized it if these great things didn't happen to him? well, i guess we don't know for sure.

but as i think about how God deals with me and how i observe God dealing with other people i know and how i see God dealing with people in the Scripture, the realization and the subsequent correct behavior precede the blessing.

in other words, if joseph didn't "get it" and "walk in it" God wouldn't (couldn't) use him as He did.

i realize that forgiveness is tough.
i understand we don't want to be "taken advantage of".
i believe it is wrong when someone continually sins against us in the same way.

but the story isn't about joseph's brothers. the story never really mentions if they repented or doesn't excuse their behavior and it doesn't imply that they won't one day answer for their sins.

bc when it comes to your life, God isn't concerned with any one else. He is only concerned with you and your behavior. when He deals with them, He isn't concerned with you.

so, then, to ask about the 491st time isto avoid the issue of God dealing with you.

again, it's not to say i do not understand, bc i do.

i once had a boss who was a christian. this person was nice enough...but they were a terrible boss. nothing i did was good enough...and they criticized everything about me. i mean job weight (i wasn't even that heavy back then) whether i shaved or choice of sports teams...they even explained the "proper way to tie my shoes".

life was miserable...and i often chaffed and acted inappropriately toward this person. it was as if this person thought they were my God given drill sargeant to teach me both the ropes of the job i was doing at that time and of life, too. well, i didn't need that...i've been thru basic training, thank you very much.

and to top it off, this person told me (after i apologized for saying something to him) "you need to be coming to me on your knees in repentance, bc God has placed me in authority over you and you are refusing His working in your life"...they even criticized my apologies!

needless to say, it was a tough time. and, in some ways, it is still difficult...people think of this person as a leader...they have a moderately successful business...many people think well of them...

but if they only knew...!

but God knows...and He knew all along.

so, here are some lessons i learned (some years later)

1. i am only responsible for me. if someone does(n't) repent, it's on them.
2. my willlingness to forgive is based on my being aware of God's forgiveness
3. forgiveness is an act of my will
4. eventually, feelings follow the act of the will

i used to forgive with the thought...but when they stand b4 God, He's gonna give them a thing or two...

but sincerely, my prayer is that God would not hold that against them...just as i hope He holds nothing against me.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Talking about Forgivness...

there's a don henly song (don't remember the title...not a big fan)'s a slower song, like much of his mid 90's pop slop (again...not a big fan of pop music of any sort)...but there was a line that i loved to hear...


i think he said (sang) it a few times...a web search confirms it.

he said it's the heart of the matter...forgiveness...



it's an act of your will.
a choice you must continually make.

it's forgiveness.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Genesis Deep Study Passage

Background: Joseph was betrayed by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery. After many years of various trials, God led Joseph to become the “prime minister” of Egypt and gave him the wisdom to store up food for a coming famine. Eventually he was reunited with his brothers, who feared he might seek revenge.

Genesis 50:20 (NCV)
"You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done."

What does everybody like to recieve, but very few are willing to give readily?


well...not advice. that's the opposite, everybody gives it readily, but few of us recieve it.


we all want understanding for our shortcomings..."it's bc of my's bc of my environment...i didn't really mean it that way...i was just's that time..."

please, understand!

we all want understanding.

we all also want grace. we don't want people to remember our faults...we want to erase our past failures...we are hurt and insulted when someone brings up something we did weeks (months...or years) ago.

how could they do that? why can't they let bye gones be bye gones?

we all want grace.

the same with forgiveness...we want it...we certainly need it. we'd forgive us (or so we think). we are dismayed when someone can't overlook something we did to hurt them.

but in my experience, i found people are reluctant to be understanding, to be gracious and to forgive...

and that is very sad.

it is like massages...we like to get them...we need them from time to time...but we don't get anything out of giving them and therefore don't want to.

but these are all selfless acts...and Christ calls us to follow Him into selflessness...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

God's Word in my own words.

i've greatly enjoyed reading this one passage over and over this week. in fact, after a couple of days it was just running thru my head w/o reading it. i repeated it and repeated it in my thoughts...

God's word is's active...He want's to interact with me thru His word! He will speak to me if i will listen...and there is a blessing in putting into practice what i read! it's true...sometimes the "cutting" of the Scripture isn't fun to feel conviction...but the hurt always results in healing. it's amazing to me how God's word reveals my true intentions...i can be a hypocrite with other people...but i can never, ever fool God. His word "forces" me to be honest with admit my short confess my pretendings and's scary at times, but God is forever gentle with me...i am glad i cannot fool God.

thank You, God for Your word. i thank You bc it's real and true and that, when it gets inside me, it changes me. i thank You that it is eternal and unchanging and that You use it to reveal who i really am. forgive me for my shortcomings...for my failures and abandonments...forgive me for my willingness to do things my own way and pretending its Your way. i know it isn't.

thank You, God for Your forgiveness thru Christ my Lord.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


a couple of years ago i was over in town for the day and figured i'd get something to eat. i thought about mcd's but, decided against it because it had been making me feel sick...but it's just so easy! i found myself pulling in, saying "well...if it makes me sick this time, then i'll know not to eat it!"...

that's a great picture of how we often deal with our "problem sins"...but that's not what this post is about.

later that afternoon i went to see another we sat in his office, my stomache began to hurt. "stupid mcd's" i thought..."i'm never eating there again...i've really learned my lesson this time..."

that's another great picture of how we often deal with our "problem sins"...but that's not what this post is about.

after 15 or 20 minutes i couldn't even sit stomache hurt...i felt a bit feverish...not like i was going to throw up or anything...i just felt sick. i excused myself and drove home... pulling over here and there because my side hurt so bad. i got home and went inside...wondering what was wrong with me...bc something had to be wrong with me...i had never felt this bad after mcd's...i laid down on the couch...called my wife (couldn't reach her)...wondered what was wrong for a while more...

and finally, i called the doctor.

they said i should come right sounded serious. i needed their help. i also needed help to drive...i felt funny asking humbled me to have to call someone...but i really couldn't handle driving myself.

i thought about people to call and what i would say... "'s pastor mike. how are you? me? well...that's why i'm see, i have a belly ache. yeah...a belly ache. the dr. said i should come in...uhm...yeah, i guess it's a bad bellyache. but i don't think i can drive. can you take me?'s a bellyache...but it's a bad bellyache!" they, of course, came right over and drove me to the doctor's office so i could recieve the help i needed.

that is a great picture of how we should deal with our "problem sins"...but it isn't what this post is about...

it turns out i had an acute case of appendicitis...and i was in surgery in about an hour and a half. they put me under...i don't remember much there, except to say i woke up in the operating room and said "'s cold in must like to keep things fresh, huh?"...but, they took a scapel and made an incision or two and went in with a microscope and...plyers? i don't know, but they removed the offending appendix from my body.

i was a bit sore for a day or two...i preached a couple of days later (which i shouldn't have done...) but i was on the more could the useless and sick appendix affect me in a negative way... the doctor (bless his heart) hurt me in order to heal me. he took his sharp scapel and cut me and went inside and rummaged around and cut and plucked out a part of me.


that's serious business...and that's what God does and wants to do with us.

and that is what this post is all about.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Word

i used to like controversy.
i used to promote debate.
i used to enjoy arguing...

and it's not that i don't like them any longer (i've not been delivered yet!)...but, more and more, i'm learning to refrain from them.

i've done this bc i noticed i really don't like people who argue, nor do i want to be around them. they seem ugly to me...they may have a nice appearance (or not) but there's this ugly monster lurking beneath their skin who pops out all green and smelly (like that quit smoking commercial)...

i don't want to be that person.

so, how do you stop doing something you like to do?
well, first off, you recognize it isn't easy.

recognize the tendency to repeat this behavior and look for ways to AVOID it...

most times we see it coming...we feel it coming too.
we hear the comments...they may be inflamatory or ingnorant;
they may be indulgent or insolent
they may be indefensible or just plain old dumb...

none the less...they bug us
& we begin to formulate our side of the argument in our heads...
"i'll say this...and when they say that...i'll say this"
our blood pressure begins to rise...
we need to unbutton our collar...

well...b4 any of this happens, leave. excuse yourself. mentally check out. but don't allow someone else's conversation to affect your behavior.

recognize your words will rarely change anyone else's behavior

we may "win" the argument, but did we bring any lasting change? chances are, no.
it is God's job to change people, not ours. if He chooses to use us in that process, He will use us when we are in His character.

recognize we are being "duped"

most times people start arguments to make themselves feel justify thier opinions or to give them some sort of ego boost. the most frustrating thing for them, and the thing that would best reveal their character flaw, is to not allow your self to be baited into the argument.

recognize arguing appeals to our flesh

it is not the Spirit inside us who argues. it is our flesh. the Spirit doens't need to argue...He is always right and there is not debate about it. He doesn't have to win anything. nor does He need to be defended. we aren't doing God any favors by arguing...we aren't helping His cause or advancing His Kingdom...we are building our own.

"let God be true and every man a liar"

Monday, September 18, 2006


appropriately, my first comment on our "deep study passage" is this:

God's word is so amazingly full of life and lessons that it will be no problem reading this one passage every day for a week (or for a year) and getting something "new" out of it each of those days.

we can emphasize different words...we can use a different translation...we can put it in our words...we can read what others say about it...we can think about the original human author's thoughts...or what his reader's thought...we can apply it to our own situation...we can remember a time when this passage was (or could have been) helpful to us...we can imagine a situation where this passage would be important to us.

God's word is living and active! it doesn't sit idly by. it is real and true and really true. it is God speaking to us...His children! oh, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God! and that is what we are! His children!

and He speaks.

the words of a hymn:

"speak my Lord, speak my Lord;
speak and i'll be swift to answer Thee!"


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our "Deep Study Passage"

we have just started a thru the bible in a year bible study in our home fellowship groups. there is a lot of reading for this study, so we came up with an idea.

we'll read quickly thru the assigned reading...not worrying much about understanding or retaining...i beleive that once God's word is inside of us the Holy Spirit can bring it to light when He wants to...

but each week we'll take one passage from the book we're studying (or, as in the case this week, a related book) and read that passage each day and meditate on it for 10 minutes...we can read about it in commentaries or other books...we want that passage to become a real part of who we are as a Xian...

this week's deep study passage is Hebrew's 4:12...which reads:

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

please feel free to comment on this passage...i will soon.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Was That a Kiss or a Counter Punch?

from "Parting Shot" by Bill Mallonee

"if you plant ice, you're gonna harvest wind"
from "Franklin's Tower" by Robert Hunter

"a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh answer stirs up anger"
from Prov 15:1 by Solomon

generally speaking, we stand piosed to react. we rehearse situations in our minds. we are often ready to retaliate...tit for tat and all of that.

we fell vindicated and's's even normal and expected.

and if we don't, we get walked on, right?
and God wouldn't want His children to get walked on, would He?

a gentle answer doesn't mean one that gives means gentle.

you can disagree gently.
you can oppose while "disarming" the assailant with your words.
you can stand up with out knocking someone else down.

your words don't have to hurt...they can heal.

here's some things to put into practice:

1. ask questions rather than make accusations.
2. civilize rather than criticize
3. admit your own wrong doing
4. seek to resolve, rather than win, the argument

Thursday, September 14, 2006


"Where no oxen are, the manger is clean,
but much revenue comes by the strength of an ox"
Proverbs 14:4

it's nice to have a clean barn.
it looks nice; it;
you don't mind haven't people come over to it.
they'll think you are on top of things
and that you really know how to keep order in your barn.
you can be proud of it.
no one will think poorly of you...because your barn is clean.

but what good is it?
no good, really.
it just looks good.

a working barn doesn't look or smell good. there may be some clutter...there may be some dirt or hay...there may be some...uhm...well...crap.

barns shouldn't be pretty...they are for work.

so it is with our lives. many times we "pose"...we act like everything is fine in our lives...we make the manger nice and neat...get rid of those oxen...neaten the place up a bit...

and we keep God on the outside.

we look good...our mangers are clean...

but we are not doing the job that needs to be done.
and we are not doing the job that God wants to do in us.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Deep Will I Dig, I

"and count the stars to measure time...
the earth is hard, the treasure fine"
from "Deep" by Gene Eugene

"Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor..."
from Prov 13:23 by Solomon

if the bible tells us we have everything we need for life and godliness (2peter 1)...then why do we struggle so?

i think the main reason is we use our shovels for the manure of our desires and excuses and not for digging up the fallow ground where the treasure lies untouched.

it's easy to move around the piles we is work! and moving them around satisfies our religious sensibilities...but it isn't spirtual.

spirituality is digging.
it is uncovering things you've kept hidden (even from yourself)...
it is uncovering desires and prejudices and excuses for shallow living.

it takes a determined, exerted effort.

for, indeed, the earth is hard. but the treasure is fine.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

All i Have to Do is Dream...

"He who works his land will have abundant food,
but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment."

well...i guess i mean, do

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Faith in "something"

from Ps 115:
Their gods are metal and wood, handmade in a basement shop:
Carved mouths that can't talk, painted eyes that can't see,
Tin ears that can't hear, molded noses that can't smell,
Hands that can't grasp, feet that can't walk or run,
throats that never utter a sound.
Those who make them have become just like them,
have become just like the gods they trust.

i've had this conversation many times thru the years...the one where you're talking to someone about the Lord or about church and they say:

"you just have to have faith in something"

what do you say to that? it sounds is good, right? who are we to say what we should have faith in...pastor's are supposed to like people with faith, right? why in the world would you dismiss someone with faith?

but we must.
faith in "something"? well, fine, if that "something" is Jesus (apart from denominational affiliation)...going to one church or the other church isn't a big deal to me.

but listen to what they are in something means faith in in good things, faith in the Best Thing...but it also means faith in "neutral" things or even faith in bad things...

faith is only as good as what you are putting your faith in.

let's say there are 2 people. one with great faith...giant faith...more faith than any one else. the other person has a small faith...puny...tiny...itsy little faith as you can possibly have and still say you have faith.

the one with much faith puts their faith in a thin sheet of ice, just barely enough to cover the water.

the one with little faith puts their faith in vermont a foot or two or three thick.

who would you like to be?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Instead of a Sweet Smell There will Be a Stench"

from Isaiah3:24.

once, many years ago (i can't believe i can say that!) when i was in the U.S.A.F. (blah, blah, blah), i was walking into work behind a co worker. she was about 30 feet ahead of me and her perfume filled the air. it was a wonderful perfume...even tho it was all around me, it wasn't overwhelming. very, very pleasant. i remember closing my eyes and taking in a big whiff...ready to be transported to a field with grass and flowers and clouds and peace and love and all that other good stuff.

however, because my eyes were closed, i didn't see her light up a cigarette...and as i breathed, i didn't take in the wonderful scent i was expecting, but the awful stench of burning nicotine (and other polutants)!

i gagged!
i choked!
i almost threw up!

it is true, i thought (and think) cigarettes are pretty gross...but i could always handle them...but the problem was, it was not what i was expecting.

instead of a sweet smell there wil be a stench...
God speaks thru isaiah and warns israel of what is to come.




because God cares deeply about how His people live. and israel wasn't living rightly.

they compromised their convictions...
they disobeyed His commandments...
they exploited the poor & the needy...
they were alligned with the enemy...

and God allowed calamity to come to bring them back to Him.

how do we live?

God cares deeply.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


i came home today and my son was dressed as peter pan...which is ok...