The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Friday, June 29, 2007


was my birthday.

42. uh oh lost fans...

anyway, i was a little i did some reminiscing. i went to the blog and read last year's post...i liked it. you can read it here

scroll down to the's in 3 parts

God bless you, today.

i hope you (re) enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Best Things in Life are...

i think the most often misquoted bible verse is "the love of money is the root of a mulititde of evisl"

not the "multitude of evils part"...the kjv does say "all evil", and they mean the same thing.

it's the first part...the way i most often encounter this verse is "money is the root of all evil"...not "the love of money"; and there is a big difference between the two.

we need money, there is no getting around it. we have to have a place to live, a car to drive, and food to eat. we need clothes, haircuts, and shoeshines. our kids need toys, tv and a swimming pool...oh, wait a minute.

this is where the problem seeps the sliver, small gap between what we need and what we want. our wants reach into that space with their arms and STRETCH! it out till we are living far beyond our means.

most people don't start out loving money, they just kind of slide into it, like going around a slippery winter don't realize your are going out of control until you are out of control, and then it's just a matter of hoping for the best...

the writer of hebrews writes something very similar to what paul wrote to timothy.

"keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. God has said, 'I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.' so we can be sure when we say, 'i will not be afraid, because the Lord is my helper. what can people do to me?'" (13:5-6)

keep your lives keeping your garden free of weeds. how do you do it? vigilance. weed spray (if you choose), going out and hoeing it ever day or two...keeping track of it...enlisting the kids help...teaching them how to do it...being responsible...

it's hard work. gardening...and keeping ourselves free from the love of money.

our culture breeds discontent. every commercial has, built right into it, the message "you don't have enough, you need more". every advertisment fuels our desire for what we don't have. every tv show implies that life should be easier (and, if we have "this" it would be!!!!).

so, what's the remedy?

believing God's promise. in Him, we have enough. in Him, we are content. in Him, we are safe. in Him, we are blessed. in Him. in Him. in Him.

apart from Him...we are, indeed, destitute. empty. poor. needy. unwell.

we have to spend some time contemplating such things...reminding our selves of the great riches we are possessors of in Christ!

you are rich.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Gospel

"Sainthood for everyone
who knows you lose it to save it"

from "Hard Luck and Heart Attack"
by Bill Mallonee

Labels: ,

Stick Ball

stick ball was a blast yesterday. felt like a kid again...altho, the kid feeling wears off and i'm reminded today that i am a 40ish man. not terribly sore, just one calf muscle.

already looking forward to next time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

You Are the Eyes of the World

if you don't mind, please read the previous post (Wake Up to Find Out That...) first

so, here's my take. i'm not saying this is what hunter intended...obviously, i've no idea of that--this is just what this song has come to mean to a christian, thinking man.

"Right outside this lazy summer home
you don't have time to call your soul a critic, no
Right outside the lazy gate of winter's summer home
wondering where the nuthatch winters
Wings a mile long just carried the bird away"

i imagine the poet at his summer home...intending to relax. but, being the meloncholy sort (as many poets are), he's not feeling very restful. he has the propensity to be hard on think others are as hard on him as he is on himself. it's a crappy place to be. when we feel that way, we must remind our selves to not be that way. and i am reminded of the verse "when your heart comdemns you, He is greater than your heart.".

so, instead of being stuck in the mud (or in spite of being stuck in the mud), he wonders about the bird. maybe he wishes he could fly away...escape from the things that weigh him down...i want to be where the nut-hatch winters.

life is too short to stay in that state of mind.

"There comes a redeemer
and he slowly too fades away
There follows a wagon behind him
that's loaded with clay
and the seeds that were silent
all burst into bloom and decay
The night comes so quiet
and it's close on the heels of the day"

i'm not sure of what hunter thought about redeemer. i know my Redeemer, tho; and He does not fade away. redeemer can be defined as releasing someone from captivity by means of a ransom (which is exactly what our Redeemer has done for us).

but, as i see it the verse is in general, about death; and, in particular, about the brevity of life.

death releasing us from the confines of mortal life.

the wagon is again a metaphor for death (you can see hunter's song sugaree for similar imagry). the wagon is loaded with clay...we humans are but dust of the earth. oh! how temporary life is! here today, gone tomorrow; like the dormat seeds which burst into bloom and then so quickly decay and return to the earth from which they came, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. death, like evening, sneaks up on us so very quickly.

do you remember when you were young, playing bb or hide and go seek? we were supposed to be in b4 the street lights were on (i have to figure out what to tell my street lights here!). it was was was was light...and boom! dark! just like that! where did it come from? and who stepped on the excellerator? death comes very quickly on the heals of living life. just as night come quickly following the day. death sneaks up on's here b4 you know it.

"Sometimes we live
no particular way but our own
Sometimes we visit your country
and live in your home
Sometimes we ride on your horses
Sometimes we walk alone
Sometimes the songs that we hear
are just songs of our own"

well, it's true. we often choose to live our lives our own way, rather than the way God would have us live. we do visit Him from time to time. we do walk with Him for stretches...we visit His country...we live in His home. we rely on His strength ("your horses")...other times we lean on our own understanding (see proverbs 3:5-6)...indeed, some of the times when we think we are listening to God's own voice...we are only listening to our own heart's desire (whether good, bad or indifferent).

i'll leave the chorus for some more thinking.

thanks, mr. hunter.

Wake Up to Find Out That...

first off, if you didn't know it, robert hunter is an absolute poetic genious.

now, it's amazing what hits you in the middle of the night.

eyes of the world has long been my "favorite" song. i say it that way, bc i don't want to be cheesy. but, cheesy i am, i guess. it is an incredible jam...transporting, at times.

but the lyrics have always confused me. it was like it was nonsensical...i've thought and thought about it...but nothing.

btw...if someone feels i am writing about them...i apologise--please don't be offended. i've just assumed that they've stopped reading here, too (that is, if they've ever read here). i also am not looking for reassurance...this is just what is on my heart.

well, last night was a tough one for me. i preached a sermon (it felt like a "good one"), went out to dinner with a couple from church, came home, read a little while and then went to sleep. i woke up about 130am...that's normal, but i usually go right back to sleep.

last night i couldn't.

i was thinking about things. 3 people in particular...and then all the people those 3 people affect. they've said something along the lines of "church isn't working for me" or "it's not what i expected" or i don't know...but they weren't in service.

and it troubled me.

it troubles me for them. i worry about them. my experience is that church is a good thing, a God thing...even when i don't want to be there...and when someone consciously makes the choice to not come bc "it doesn't work" or "it's not what i expected" or whatever...i worry for them. not so much in the sense of "they've lost their salvation"...or that they've "turned their back on Jesus"'s far more subtle than that.

church is where the believer belongs. like ducks in water or pigs in mud ---you can pick which you are ;-) --- and when someone says "i don't belong there"...that's worrisome to me.

it troubles me for the people they effect. like it or not, we all effect one another. and everybody is important. if someone is saying "that's not working for me" it calls into question if it works at all. and if this person isn't here...then maybe i don't have to be there next time. maybe i can side step God's work in my life...maybe i can (try to) avoid His Spirit's influence on my life... maybe i can just explain it all away and...

lastly...(and sad to say, mostly) it troubled me for me. how it effects me. how it calls my performance into question (at least in my own mind) it reflects on me. i know, it's pretty lame...but humans we are and human i am...and it is the truth. it is easy to focus on the (hopefully!) minority...and once you start focusing on the minority, you find myriad things to support their position. there's this and there's that and then there' oh my how foolish we (i) can be.

so, the night was spent alternately:

tossing and turning
getting up and going to read
forgetting i just surrendered it to the Lord
reminding myself i just surrendered it to the Lord...
and so on.

i finally felt like sleeping at about 530 but decided it was too late to sleep. i went down to the computer to read the news (i do tht most sundays...just in case there is some big news to be mentioned in church. i guess i put on some music...altho i don't remember doing that. but, for some reason i started thinking about "eyes of the world"...and, it made sense.

well...tune in later to hear the ramblings of a man far too tired to be writing in his blog.

i have to go play stick ball.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


"Yes and it feels
Just like running a red light
There ain't no point in looking behind us, no"

from "feel like a stranger"
by barlow/weir

everyone knows (at least i hope everyone knows!) that you should not run red lights. you should be polite and safe and come to a stop and not proceed until the light turns green.

safety first when you drive. safety first. politeness second.

none the less, it happens. sometimes we think the yellow light will stay yellow for a few seconds more, so we push it...other times we don't notice the red can that be?

there was a road in jersey city called kennedy blvd (i think back in pre-kennedy days it was eisenhower blvd...poor dwight, in fifteen years' time his limelight was stolen). it had traffic lights on every corner...maybe a couple hundred feet apart, one on one side of the road and one on the other side of the road. there was more than a few times, when i was driving down that road that i didn't notice i went thru a red light, bc i was looking up ahead of me.

i felt bad. i felt scared. i apologised to the people in the car. my hands were shaking and i went "whoa" several times while exhaling deeply.

but, thankfully, there were no accidents. i was scared and shaken and humbled, but i was safe. i certainly payed more attention to the traffic light system on the blvd (at least for a few weeks). but i could do nothing about what happened. it happened. i ddin't want it to happen. i didn't mean for it to happen. but it happened.

"ain't no point in looking behind, let's go."

the idea is, leave the past in the past. learn what you can from it, apologise for it, ask for forgiveness for it, be shaken and scared...

but leave it there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Babble On

once, when i was in my early teens, i happened to run into my 2nd grade teacher, mrs. zebrowski. i liked mrs. zebrowski alot, she was every thing a 2nd grade teacher should be. maternal, gracious, bubbly, fun, but committed to her students' learning. i don't remember much about 2nd grade now (tell you the truth, i didn't remember much about it that time i met her), but something she said to the teenage "nesthead" mike d. always stands out to me.

she said, "michael, do you still tell stories all the time?". even in 2nd grade i was babbling on! i asked her what i talked about, and she told me "anything. everything. what was on t.v. last night. what wasn't on t.v. that i wanted to be. where i went with my family. where i didn't go with my family that i wanted to go. what i did in the afternoon after school...and so on and so on."

no wonder i became a preacher.

people who talk alot do so for different reasons. i can't speak to why others do...whether it's some emotional need for validation or some genetic mutation, i don't know. to tell you the truth, i don't even know why i tell so many stories.

i like to think that i have learned to quell my stories not be overbearing and controlling in a conversation. to listen even more than i talk. i probably fail sometimes...but i think i've gotten that down.

we all know some people who don't have that down. they drone on and on and sometimes don't even give you a chance to get a word in, for fear that you'll say "well, see you later". sometimes we avoid those people, or, if we have to go to the place where they are, we dread it all the way there. actually, that's why i try not to talk so much...i would hate someone thinking, "oh no! here comes that preacher guy! he's going to talk my ear off!" or something like that.

all this to say, "when you pray, don't go on babbling like the heathen do, thinking they would be heard for their many words. but when you pray, pray simply. with few words and get to the point. your Heavenly Father knows what you need and don't have to impress Him with words and phrasing...".

in all the time gone by in our world, God has listened to some great prayers, i am sure. c.s. lewis used to pray. spurgeon used to pray. i bet abe lincoln used to pray. those guys knew how to impress with words. i don't think God was overly impressed tho (and i don't they were really trying to impress Him) and me, we couldn't compare to the "greats".

be simple.
be humble.
be faithful.
be respectful and reverent.

God hears.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mississippi Half-Step > Attics of My Life

"What's the point to callin shots?
This cue ain't straight in line
Cueball's made of styrofoam
and no one's got the time"

In the book of love's own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to flyYou flew to me

recently we were asked something like this:

"i've recently gotten serious about following Jesus (not the exact words; but, i think, the essence of what was said), and i would like to know that i am more miserable now than i was b4. it's like b4 i was oblivious to what i was doing wrong--now, i just keep messing up and i'm just miserable about it."

that's a tough spot to be in, and we all end up there time to time--especially when we just get started following Jesus...and if we don't learn another way, we spend all of our time:

1. knowing what we should do
2. knowing we never live up to it
3. being miserable about it.

as christians we know we aren't shooting pool with a straight cue. all of our shots are off and to top it off, the cue ball bounces all over the place because it has no weight behind it. what's the use? we won't ever win with what we have, we won't ever be able to make a shot we call, so why bother?

that's where the person who asked the question was. but what they (and we) need to be reminded of is this wonderful thing we call grace.

we cannot, CANNOT, on our own, fly to God. we are helpless to. we are hopeless in our futile little billiards game.

but when we cannot fly, He flies to us.
when we cannot hear the song, He sings to us.
when there were no strings to play, He plays to us.
when we cannot even dream, He dreams of us.

we will never meet God based on our own performance. we will never be able to earn our relationship with Him. we can only, only, only trust in His grace and mercy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Charlie's Filter

there was this thing about charlie, probably stemming from his simpleness...he would, well, say things funny. he once told me how he liked it when "someone was playin' the tangerine, they was" and another time he said, "uh huh...i had to jake the lock open...i did"

he just had a way with words.

he also wasn't very good with names. not that he forgot them, he just didn't use them alot. for months (maybe a year) i was "the rev." i told him my name at least a few times, but he stuck with "the rev."...i thought it was a cultural thing.

we rented our building to another congregation, and the pastor would often come to the building and practice the piano. "mike....the piana' playa's here", charlie would always announce, even when he knew i knew. it was just something he did. the phone would ring, he'd say "mike, ring ring, wayne's on the phone..." "mike....jackie gleason says 'to the moon, alice; to the moon"... ok charlie, ok.

i told charlie, "charlie, the piano player's name is trevor. you should call him trevor. ok? call him trevor, not 'the piana' playah' ".

"sherwood? his name is sher-wood?" and sherwood he became. "mike, the piana, sherwood is here" charlie would announce. ok. hey, at least he has a name, i thought.

one day trevor and i were having coffee discussing whether we should be addressed as "pastor mike/trevor" or just by our names. trevor was always irked that charlie called him sherwood, and, well, who could blame him? who wants to be named after a forest? "charlie", he asked "waht should people call me? trevor or pastor trevor?" "well, i don't know..." strawled charlie "pahstor sherwood?"


it was quite the comedic scene, i had to leave the room i was laughing so hard.

i don't know what kind of scrambled egg filter charlie had that juxtaposed the letters of trevor's name into sherwood. i don't know what charlie was thinking...did he think he was saying trevor? or did he think we were saying sherwood? i don't know. but every time he spoke it, it was sherwood.

we all have filters. filters formed from our up we heard our mom or our dad or our brothers or sisters...or filters formed from not having a mom or a dad or a sister or a brother. our reactions are often determined by our filters...fallible as they are.

we need new filters. we need to filter what people say to us in light of God's word and Christs's character being formed in us. regardless of what this or that person intended, what does this mean to me as a child of God? if they are saying something bad, then Christ is my defender. i can trust Him to bring those words to naught. He is able to confound my enemies!

and if it isn't bad, then we are wasting our time in making it bad.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Charlie Hill

the caretaker of a church i pastored years ago (i can't believe i can say that!) was a very simple man. he was borderline retarded, i am sure...i am just as sure he was never evaluated. he grew up in the south, abandoned first by his father and later by his mother and was raised in some sort of foster care. i say "some sort of" because basically he was a servant, hired to work the fields and little else. he never went to school, he never went over a friend's house to play, he never went camping or on vacation...he just worked those fields and existed in this situation. as soon as he could, he left. he was sixteen years old. sixteen. but, he felt (probably correctly) that he was better off.

he drifted around the south for a while...doing odd jobs and working farms. he drank...chased looked down on by whites. he came north to nj in the mid-1960's, still doing odd jobs, but no longer working on farms. i don't know when or how he became the care taker of the church. but there he was, like he had always been there.

he was an interesting guy. he went to sleep at 5am and woke up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. he never ventured out before 6 or 7 pm and when he did, he always (always!) wore very dark sunglasses--the kind of sunglasses a blind man wears. i lived in the same house as him for about 2 years (and spent many weekends there before i moved in) and i can count the times i saw him without his glasses on my hands. he swept the side walk in front of the church every night at about 11pm and had dinner at midnight. he'd cook up a hot dog and collared greens and maybe a potato...i'm glad he never offered me some, it smelled awful.

he loved the honeymooners. but i think channel 11 was the only channel his rabbit ear attenea brought in (or he never realized he could turn the dial and watch other channels-i don't know), so that was all there was to watch. it could have been lucy, or the 3 stooges or abbott and costello or al bundy (as a matter of fact, he liked al bundy too). he took what he got and never complained.

i think he had a lot to complain about. but he never complained. occasionally he would lament a little...he wasn't happy when he told me about the times he had to stand in the corner on one leg for an hour or two...he wasn't smiling when he told me about being abandoned by both of his birth parents...he didn't chuckle when he told me he hasn't heard from his sister in decades. but he didn't complain about it was just the way it was, is all.

at some point in time, things changed for charlie. well, i guess it's better to say, at some point in time charlie changed. i don't know when (i'm not sure he knows when)...but he was changed.

we were talking about faith one day and charlie said "alls i know is, one day i was going thataway and i turned around and started going thisaway" he strawled...charlie didn't drawl in the traditional southern sense. he...spoke...v...e...r...y...slowly, but without a twang or a lilt to it.

he was going one way...but he turned around and went this way. charlie might not understand the word repentance...but he was repentant.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


there are things to be learned here, if you take the time, expend the effort and prayerfully consider your life.

i hope you shed a tear or two.

Sometimes the Songs We Sing are Just Songs of Our Own

if you've read along for any amount of time here, or listened to a sermon or two, or had a casual conversation with me, you know i love lyrics...well, good lyrics anyway.

i like lyrics that seem obvious at first, but then (maybe years later) have you thinking about them over and over...

"is this what he (she) meant?"...

"oh...look at that! i never saw that before!"

"man! i wish i said that first!"

in every generation there are a few great songwriters...there are always lots of popular songwriters, or lots of songwriters who write popular songs...there are even some songwriters who have a reputation for greatness (but really aren't all that great).

so, what makes a great songwriter?

he has to say common things in uncommon ways...he also has to say uncommon things in common ways.

he has to sneak up on you with an obvious observation...he also has to occasionally stun you with wit and go in a direction you just hadn't imagined.

he must be personal and he must be universal.

he must be steeped in metaphor and lean in cliche.

his tunes must be joyful and somber...toe tapping and heart wrenching.

wow! it's hard work being a songwriter...nevermind being a great songwriter.

i think this guy named bill mallonee is a great songwriter.

there may be better singers...or better packages...or better marketed artists...there may be better musicians...or funnier writers...or simpler wordsmiths...

but there are few with his gift of all of the above.

have you heard of him? i doubt it.

his gift is his bane...he isn't for the lighthearted...he isn't for the superficial...and, generally speaking, you wouldn't put him on to liven up a party.

he's for broken people. people who have noticed that the life they are experiencing isn't exactly the life they thought they should be getting. he's for people who think...not neccesarily for people who whine...there are themes of redemption and reconciliation in his songs (and people who only whine aren't interested in those themes).

he's good. very good. yeah...maybe great.

please see for your self:

has 4 tunes to listen to; and:

has 2 whole albums you can download for if you like them, please order a few more because:
1. they are worth owning (i own them all)
2. he could use the cash...


Monday, June 11, 2007

The Wind pt. 3

well...the first snippet is in reference to the Holy Spirit.

the 2nd snippet is in keeping with the book of ecclesiates.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Wind pt. 2

i'm tired of chasing after wind
that is only wind
as it blows round the dead leaves

The Wind

i want to listen for the wind
that isn't just the wind
as it rustles thru the trees

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Prayer

Our gracious and Almighty God, we are grateful for this opportunity to pray. We are thankful You are a God who listens and we are thankful You are a God who answers prayer.

So we come to You now, being reminded of how we should live and where our thoughts should be, but knowing how often we fall short of it.

We are thankful for Your offer of forgiveness thru Christ our Lord and we ask for the aid of Your Spirit to live our lives in a way that pleases You.

Loving You above all things and then loving each other in a way that brings You glory and honor.

Help us then, to put away the protective coverings of our attitudes and our arrogance; and instead, put on the cloak of love.

Help us to leave our petty disagreements behind and put our hands forward in grace and friendship.

Help us to live our lives free of resentment and fear; but rather, full of respect and care.

We recognize there is war in our world and we pray for those in harm’s way. We look forward to the day when war will be no more and hope it will be soon.

Until then, help us to be peacemakers…who make peace with the peace we have from knowing You, and following You, and loving You and most importantly, being loved by You.

A Challlenge

i often remind people in our church to be involved in the life of their community. i'm convinced that we must go to people, living lives full of grace and truth--because people will not come to us.

my heart was moved while we were at the evangelism conference we recently attended and i called back home to give a message to the pastor who is coordinating the local high school's baccalaureate service that i would love to be a part of it.

i really is a place i (and other christians) need to be. i recently recieved the order of service for it and this is my job:

"prayers for peace: sikh, zoroastrian, muslim; native american, hindu, jewish, christian"

well now...what do we do???

we cannot compromise our beliefs and pray prayers in ways that are contrary to what we believe...nor can we just run away and hide in the comfort of our pews.

no...we must go.

we must go...full of grace and truth and respect and care and Christlike-ness. we must go and pray for peace...knowing that Jesus is our peace.

i hope they ask me back again next year.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


we enjoyed our trip. it was an excellent conference...we learned alot, we were spiritually re-fired, we talked alot...we enjoyed the beauty of a different part of the country (altho not nearly as beautiful as vermont) was an excellent trip.

we also enjoyed visiting with our families. they are nice people (i say that in case they read the blog...). the weather was nice and we spent a lot of time swimming in the pool and when we weren't swimming we were in the a.c. we got to see both sides of the family...ate white castles and pizza...things were good.

but, even with all that good, we couldn't wait to get home. we were made for home...and all of our travels and our experiences on the road (both good and bad) remind us that, indeed, there is no place like home. we aren't settled until we get home. we feel safe at home. we are comfortable at home.

we were made for home.

it's kind of like that with heaven. things are well here...but, we still want to go home and we won't be fully comfortable (there is such a thing as "holy uncomfortableness") until we are there.

we were made for home.

Friday, June 01, 2007

here we go...

we were away at a conference (excellent!) and then vacation. will post tmw...

how about that "Lost" season finale?