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 22, 2007

While You are Thinking About That, Think About This...

you are not forgotten:
Psalm 139:17
How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! i can't even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn toward me. and when i waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Made. Unmade. Remade.

when i posted the robert browning poem i didn't realize how closely it went along with this week's scripture reading. i suppose the thought was on my mind as i prepared the sermon and stuff...

we are made in God's image...
that image is defaced by sin...
God allows us into situations where He unmakes that sin-marred image and reforms us into Christ's image.

yesterday we read that we are God's workmanship...we're His masterpiece, as one version paraphrases it. whether we're a song or a painting or a sculpture; or something "useful" like a building or a vehicle...we are well made and amazing in our complexity and useful for doing the things God has prepared (in advance) for us to do.

i view these things as a scavanger hunt...little works for us to discover along our way...going from one to the next, never knowing when we'll happen upon them...but always hoping we'll see them.

go find some.

Friday, March 16, 2007

from robert browning:

else i avert my face nor follow Him into some sad, obscure, sequestured state;
where God unmakes, but to remake, the soul;
He else first made in vain, which must not be.

I Hope You Spent Some Time Reading The Scripture Passages This Week

the theme of this sunday's (past) sermon was growing...

if you want to grow you should recognize that growth begins with God and His grace...He is the did not seek God on your own, God drew you to Himself...your growth in Him is our of His benevolence and grace. we play a part, sure...but with out God and God's grace we will not grow. two verses about grace (you should look them up) are Eph 2:8 and Rom 5:2.

it is our job to respond receive His grace and respond to Him by living the way He would have you live and doing the things He would have you do. (see James 1:4)

a part of our response to God is repentence...changing our "me-centered" thinking to God centered thinking. reversing our world view. putting God first. resisting the enemy and temptation. returning in our hearts to a place where we honor God. (see Rom 12:2a)

we also have to take responsibility. growth comes when we take faithful steps into leadership. growth comes when we make it our goal to serve Him and others by taking on new responsibilities. (see Heb 5:11-14)

when we change our way of thinking we become an obedient people. obedience isn't easy and often costs something, even if that something is only our comfort and convenience. but obedience is essential to growth. (see Rom 12:2b)

we grow when we live lives of worship. lives filled with prayer and conversation with God. lives filled with God's word. lives filled with God's presence. lives marked by right living and right loving.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Five Things That Inhibit Biological Growth:

1. Improper Diet
2. Improper Environment
3. Genetic Defect
4. Neglect
5. Catastrophe

Five Things That Inhibit Spiritual Growth

1. Improper Diet
when we rush thru our busy lives and do not "feed" regularly on God's Word and spend time with Him in prayer, we deprive our spiritual selves from needed nutrients.

2. Improper Environment
when we have the wrong frame of mind, we put ourselves in a bad environment. some examples of a wrong frame of mind are: A. focusing on other people's sins and not our own. B. worrying about our lives and not trusting God for our provision C. striving to be accepted by God instead believing in faith we already are

3. Genetic Defect
Heresy...incorrect teaching. every heresy effects behavior. for instance (i guess this is my "favorite"; if one can have a favorite heresy), when someone underminds the deity of Christ they (subconciously...unconciously...i don't know) immediately fall into a works based salvation. bc when you say Jesus isn't God Himself, His atonement is reduced in value and in it's ability to produced the desired results.

4. Neglect
there is an old saying "ignore your teeth and they will go away"...ignore God's Presence in your life (in the person of the Holy Spirit...)...ignore His working in your life thru situations and you are heading to a dangerous place.

5. Catastrophe
this again falls into our frame of mind. how do we recieve trials and tribulations? like God is "out to get us"? "how can this happen to ME?"...catastrophe comes...troubles come...trials come. we can learn from them, grow thru them, benefit inspite of them...if we focus ourselves on God and not on our selves.

hey, somebody save will probably be a sermon one day.

One Place

over the weekend services i mentioned an online resource for sermons. here 'tis...

some favorites:

james m. boice, chuck swindoll, allister begg, john piper, steve brown...

very interesting to me, but these guys are all calvinists.

some favorites not on this site are:

mike macintosh (any one know where to find his sermons?), elisabeth eliot, tozer (well, i've only read his),...and i've enjoyed what i've heard of bill hybels, rick warren and tony campola.

take a listen.

Growin' Up

i was going to quote springsteen's song of the same name...i like it, but it is pretty dumb stuff. now, i like bruce...i kinda have to. bruce is to new jerseyites (of a certain age bracket) what phish was to vermonters of a certain age's part of our identity. now, that's no small feat considering nj is the most densely populated state . but, at times i find his lyrics "forced"... and so it is with growin' up...

but growin' up is something we all have to do.

diapers were fine in infancy...but grade school kids have to learn to use the toilet.
"kooties" were funny in grade school...but in jr. high you grew to crushes.
having your parents drive you to the school dance was normal...but in HS you took dad's car.
pimples were a part of HS life...but hopefully cleared up by your college years.
every sophmore was a "wise fool"...but by our senior year we respected our professors.
in our early 20's we realized dad knew what he was talking about (hopefully we admitted that to him).
in our 30's we settled down to raise kids and realized that, man! dad had it tough!
in our 40's...well, i guess i'm still learning that. i'll let you know in a couple of years, i guess.

we should all be growing. physical maturation turns to physical degradation somewhat quickly, but emotional and spirtual growth are life time pursuits.

more later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Grace, again

i think bono gets away with writing a lot of cheesy lyrics that other writers would be critiqued for...but he does drop some good ones in now and again, doesn't he?

there are some neat thoughts in this song...

"she travels outside of karma" not an acceptance of karma's reality . in fact, just the opposite.

karma is cruel.

it's not just "what goes around, comes around"...karma tells us that what we get in this life is based on how we did in past then, if someone is suffering, they are suffering for what they've done in the past and therefore, deserve it. conversely, if someone is blessed, well, they deserve to be blessed...

grace is different. grace is kind.

grace says: "you deserve punishment, but I will take it for you and you are free from it".

and grace is at work in our world, transforming people (albeit slowly at times) and making ugly things beautiful.


Grace, she takes the blame
she covers the shame
removes the stain
it could be her name

grace, it's the name for a girl
it's also a thought that changed the world
and when she walks on the street
you can hear the strings
grace finds goodness in everything

grace, she's got the walk
not on a ramp or on chalk
she's got the time to talk
she travels outside of karma
she travels outside of karma
when she goes to work
you can hear her strings
grace finds beauty in everything

grace, she carries the world on her hips
no champagne flute for her lips
no twirls or skips between her fingertips
she carries a pearl in perfect condition

what once was hurt
what once was friction
what left a mark
no longer stings
because Grace makes beauty
out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

lyrics by bono


so, we're a blessed family. we love to make music. it's fun...we have is probably fun to watch...

but the listening? probably not so much.

sometimes we hit it...sometimes we find the groove...sometimes we are in the zone...but not usually. yet, anyway...

but still music we make, cacophonous tho it is.

i imagine our heavenly Father listening...i know He is...but i try to picture it in my mind. does He wince now and again? does He tune us out and listen to yo yo ma and his son instead? would He rather listen to a couple of virtuosos rather than us?

i don't know.

but imagine Him pleased with a dad and sons and daughter who try as they might to make music. i suppose He has the expectation we will grow in our instruments (and by the way, i've been playing guitar for 20 years and i've learned more about music and guitar in the past year than in any of those 20 previous years)...but for now, He is pleased.

i think He looks at our lives that way, too. He expects us to grow...He desires our growth. but for now, He looks at us and our feeble attempts to live out the Truth of "Christ in us, the hope of glory" with bemused satisfaction.

i don't take this (and you shouldn't, either) as an endorsement of mediocrity...a "God loves you just as you are so you don't really have to try" kind of thing. He tells us to "aim for perfection".

but i think He's more interested in the process than He is interested in the performance.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly

we have a blessed family. we are blessed with the desire to make not just repeat music that has already been made, but to make new that has never been heard b4. making music (esp new music) is a lot of fun. there is much joy in the process (even when the process is difficult) and more joy when there is a finished product.

there is a melding of forces involved.

there is the force of human wit and wisdom, where the maker of music toils and labors and sweats out a finished product in the same way a carpenter builds a house or a chef prepares a meal.

there is also the force of the Maker of music's gift to the maker of music. where the natural born talent (of supernatural origin) is applied and the maker of music surrenders to the gift in him/her and (so it seems) music is effortlessly born.

now, when these two forces are combine, "magic" happens. i know that term bothers us xians. but what i mean by it is, it cannot be explained...even by one who is within the process. i don't mean sleight of hand...or illusion. nor am i giving some sort of endorsment to new age spirituality. there is something unexplicable when a person takes their learned & earned effort and combines it with their God originated talent. whether it's beethoven or the beatles it is absolutely amazing what these two forces bring about.

that's not to say this music is (or is not) acceptable. it is only saying all talent and "natural" abilities come from God. He is the creator of all life and He puts "things" in us that we can use to make a contribution to society...whether we are xian or not. i am glad the mechanic i bring my car to--who often reminds me in various ways he is not a xian!--has the God given ability to figure out what is wrong with my car and fix it. i'm also glad he as the resources to purchase equipment to help him figure things out...i see that as God at work...i try to remind him that God works thru him...that his abilities are a combination of God born talent and his own hard work and learning.

there is, of course, one last force to mention. it is God Himself. there are times God drops a piece of music ready made onto the lap of the musician with little or no effort on their part. it comes differently than just the normal gift for music God gives. it is is is...rare. even for great musicians, it is rare.

well, i began writing about something else entirely...i was going to write about love...i will later today or the mean time, i hope this was at least a little bit interesting.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

If I Could Count...

if i could count all the times the Lord showed me He was kind
and piled them up
like some little kid's blocks

they'd touch the sky...
they'd touch the sky
if i piled them high
they would touch the sky

if i picked up a stone each time i felt all alone
but then knew He was near
and i don't need to fear

and they were dropped in a sack
all the stones blue and black
i think i'd break my back
trying to carry that sack

if i could count all my sins, like some drunk counts his gin
and added them up
in a giant brown cup

but they're down the drain
my sins, he poured down the drain
there's not even a stain
they are all down the drain