The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And Just One More Thing...

this longing for home is never (and should never) be totally absent from our lives. bc we weren't just created for this life here on earth...we were created for eternity in Heaven. and until we are there, we will always feel a little bit out of place. we can have wonderful and deep experiences with God Himself, but it isn't the complete real thing. we can feel His power and be filled with His Spirit...but it's still only a glimpse of WHO HE REALLY IS.

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you Only to be with you

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire This burning desire
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running
You broke the bonds and you Loosed the chains
Carried the cross Of my shame Of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
lyric by bono

i used to hate this song...i would scoff at the lyrics..."see" i would say, "if he were really a christian he would know he's found what he's looking for"...

pretty judgemental on my part. i understand him a bit more now...

i love Jesus. i'm ever grateful for His love and His grace. i could never live a normal life without following Him. He's everything to's true, cliche'd or not.

but, my experience with Him here on earth pales in comparison to what it will be.


so, sometimes it's ok to be homesick.

Another thing about that...

i was thinking about how the change to faith took place. i think, in large part, it was due to teaching.

me teaching others.

the more i talked to others about believing God's promises the more i believed them myself. the more i tried to convince others to walk in faith believing what God said is for them, the more i found myself walking in those very same promises.

teach sunday school. lead a small group. gather your kids round the table and instruct them. talk to them about God's promises while driving in the car, or howing the garden, or taking a walk.

teach, and be taught.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Life Full of Empty

"i tried to make you like me with some words and a six string;
i was starving for a deeper God, what shallow reasoning.
and even when it got cold, i hardly knew i'd died;
i guess you go a little numb before you go empty on the inside"
from "songwriter" by Bill Mallonee

i was recently reading a series of articles on "people who died young" you might expect, there were a great many musicians on that list. some died in accidents, but many, if not most, of them died either by suicide or overdose.

we aren't surprised by it, sad to say. but why is that?

to not exactly quote Augustine, we were made to be at home in God and our hearts are restless until we find Him...

and life is full of dis-satisfaction. life is full of angst. life is full of empty...there's one for you. life is full of empty.

and the musician (particularly the songwriter) has the job of relating life's experience to's a daunting task, to mess with your own emptiness and even delve into someone else's.

even when the songwriter isn't writing (or singing) about hangs is's ominous presence shading the black and white textures of the song, evoking feelings of longing and yearning and...dis-satisfaction. it's easy to fall prey to this hunter called depression and isolation...and he's an expert killer.

to be honest, most of my own best written songs are borne of this feeling...this ache...this dullness...this longing for God. i haven't always understood it...and still don't completely; but it was always a part of me.


i didn't know it changed...but then, one day, i noticed the ache was gone. i also noticed it was a while since i wrote a decent song...but that ache...that hurt...that restlessness was gone. i stumbled on the cure for the life full of empty.

it wasn't that i met Jesus...i had become a christian years before. sincerely. but, i guess, i finally stopped striving with Him...and just began to believe Him.

it's funny, i kind of miss that ache, to be honest. it was like a drug...and it was impossible to think of giving it up, and if it (the cure) didn't "sneak up on me", i'd still be an addict.

you may not be a songwriter. you may not think yourself creative...but you may have that dull ache of longing...and it drives motivates's a part of you. sometimes you think it is you.

it's not.

you are were made to be home, and you are not. you know where home know, on some level, you want to be there, but you are not.

i know that feeling. i've bottled that feeling up in songs. i've been drunk on that feeling. and i've been bitten on the butt by that feeling.

i've felt like the songwriter, who said:

" in the end, when i just ain't got the time
oh well, i'm wasted and i can't find my way home"

or the teacher who said:

"Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "utterly meaningless!" What do people get for all their hard work? Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

but my heart found it's home when it just started taking Jesus at His word.

and, by the way, it's only been my art that has suffered.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

I Hope This Makes Sense to You...

ways my life has not changed since i met Jesus:

i don't hurt
i don't get angry
i always get it right
i always love selflessly
i always resist temptation
i don't even get tempted anymore
life here now makes comeplete sense
life is always free from pain & suffering
i fully understand everything about Jesus

ways my life has changed since i met Jesus:

my life has meaning and purpose
i've seen the hurt sin causes
i've seen the joy He brings
i have hope for the future
i have peace prensently
i've recieved real love
i now give real love
i trust Him for it-
when its dark-
or it hurts-
or i can't-
or won't-
or don't

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sowing Seeds

"Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind" ''

lyric: hunter

there are different kinds of people in the world...those who desire to grow and thrive...and those who don't.

those who yield themselves to God's work in their life and those who explain away thier faults and never really grow at all.

those who own and those who blame.

why is that? i don't know.

i know i (like most of us) have the tendency to be of the latter group...but really strive to be in the group who grow...

nonetheless, if you plant ice, you harvest wind.

if you plant seeds of discord, you'll reap more discord. if you plant seeds of hurt, you'll reap more hurt. if you plant even more hurt. if you plant seeds of discouragement, you'll reap discouragement. if you plant belittlling little seeds of anger and'll have a field full...maybe even more than you can manage.

check your sack...what kind of seeds are you sowing?


i'm (along with some others) still thinking about last sunday's sermon. words.

what am i speaking?
what are people hearing?
what is the tone i use?

it is very challenging.

that's why james asks: who can tame the tongue? we use a bridle to control a horse and rudders to control ships...but our tongues? we barely have a hold on them.

and we allow our loose tongues to wreck havoc in places we shouldn't.


i recently had this realization. i was at a one day seminar about dealing with anger in children. as part of the process, we were asked about what makes us angry and where we get angry the most...

one woman said "i get angry the most at home. bc they annoy me the most". i was put off by her's only half right. we get angry the most at home...that's true. but, not bc they annoy us the most...that's avoiding the's placing the blame on them. we get angry the most at home (or, better said, we act out in our anger most at home) bc we feel we have some sort of right to act out at home...

a few weeks ago i recieved a phone call from a person who needed help. no problem. he asked, can i come bring him the $ and food...well, no. i'll meet you at the church building at 130pm. then, at 12pm i get a phone call from a lady from our church---"uhm...there's a guy here who says he is supposed to meet you. he said he'll just wait for you, while i work."

well, i can't leave a man i don't know in the building with a lady. that's not wise. i also can't tell the lady to go and leave a man i don't know wandering around our building. what could i do? stop what i'm doing and go over to the church building and take care of it...even tho i am right in the middle of something that i didn't want to interrupt...i was inconvienced. and...i was, at least a little, angry.

but, of course, i couldn't act angry. i couldn't rant and rave...or even speak unkindly...after all, i'm the pastor. and, at least i like to think, i'm professional about my duties. i did remind him of our appointment time and that i wasn't planning on coming over this early and that this put me out a little...he didn't care much about it. which made me a bit angrier! so, i gave him some help (and he asked for more...) and sent him on his way.

later that day, my wife inconvienced me in some was so minor, i don't even remember what it was!

but...i was angry. and, worse, i acted out in my anger.

now, i didn't say mean, cruel or even off color things. i didn't hit or bite or smack. i didn't demean or debase with my words.

those things ARE NEVER ACCEPTABLE for any one (esp a follower of Jesus) to say or do. it is never ok for us to assasinate is never ok to use our words to belittle or hurt other people.


it is not acceptable for us to use words like dumb, stupid, ugly, no good, wish i never met you, you were a mistake or any thing of that nature...

those words cripple and hurt and escalate the situation rather than resolve it. those are words that lead to death, not life.

none the less, in my own way i acted out in my anger against my wife in a way i was unwilling to with a stranger.

why is that?

bc her infraction was greater than his? no.
bc she made me angrier? no.

for no good reason, really.

here's the saddest thing:

i did it "because i could". God help me.

it isn't fair. it isn't nice. it isn't acceptable. it isn't Christ-like. we shouldn't do it.

i was honest with can take this and run with it...exaggerate what i said to mean things i never said or can use to to say what a bad guy that pmike is...he's just a hypocrite...

that's scary to me...i don't want that to happen. that's the risk of trying to be transparent and honest.

but i hope you listen...evaluate your own life, your own actions, your own words (instead of evaluating mine)...

and (if need be) make a decision to grow and change and become more Christ-like.

bc that is the whole point.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Give me My Rapture, Again.

lyrics by Van Morrison

There are strange things happening every day
I hear music up above my head
Fill me up with your wonder
Give me my rapture today.
Let me contemplate the presence so divine
Let me sing all day and never get tired
Fill me up from your loving cup
Give me my rapture.
Won't you guide me through the dark night of the soul
That I may better understand your way
Let me be just and worthy to receive
All the blessings of the Lord into my life.
Let me purify my thoughts and words and deeds
That I may be a vehicle for thee
Let me hold to the truth in the darkest hour
Let me sing to the glory of the Lord.
Give me my rapture today.

Give Me My Rapture

well...your answers were thoughtful and correct. the only thing i would want to add i cannot add. at least in words...for there are no words that can convey what i wanted to accomplish (in my own life as well as communicating it to you...

we christians need to be filled with wonder and awe and reverence and gratitude and wonder and awe and reverence and gratitude and wonder and awe and reverence and gratitude and... ad infinitum...

it starts with seeing God for Who He is...

He is God. completely other than...not just bigger than us...not just other than us...not just superiour than us or to us...He is God. HE IS GOD. we must ponder...contemplate...think over...mull it about...chew on it...stew on on it...stop worrying about cheesy rhymes and really, really, really...think about it.

that's where it all starts.

then, after we begin to get a glimpse of what appears to be a representation of God (see Ezekiel 1:28 for similar wording)...we'll never truly get a hold (completely) of who and how God is...but we can see flashes...and when mr. ezekiel got this tiny, little, insy-binsy, modicrum of a fleeting view of God, what did he do?

"i fell face down."
"i am a man undone", cried isaiah.
"i fell down as if i were dead" said john the beloved of his experience on patmos.

what a friend we have in Jesus...and i'm glad we do. but, when we ponder our wonderful opportunity of friendship with God in Jesus Christ, without pondering WHO HE IS, we miss out on something.

once, when i was a teenager, a couple of friends went to nyc to see our favorite guitar player, jorma kaukonen...he really is an extraordinary guitar player. quite amazing, really. and, especially at that time (as a budding guitarist) i was taken with him...he was a bit of a hero, in that teenage way. i wanted to be able to play like him (well, without all the practice anyway...). he was jorma! unique (not just in name!).

we got to the venue was a tiny place called "the lone star cafe" and as we walked in, who was there doing a sound check...but jorma...right front of me...all purple hair and tattoos and guitars and...jorma! after he soundchecked (a mere 5 feet from us), i said, "hi jorma" and he put his hand out to shake!! then we shook hands. it was a cold fish handshake, limp as overcooked he was a girl or the pope expecting me to kiss his hand.

i was disappointed. almost devastated. jorma has a cold fish handshake! jorma's a sissy. jorma isn't masculine! i was bummed. jorma did not live up to my expectations...altho he did later during the show...he still was an amazing guitar player, lame handshake or not.

so it is with celebrity. they are people. not really different than us, truth be told...whether it's a guitar player or an actor or a politician...they are people who eat, drink, fart and sleep...they get colds and lose thier tempers and put up grand facades all the while.

and it's not that we think of God that way...but, sometimes we act that way. and we take His friendship for granted.

He is God. fill us with wonder, fill us with awe.
He is God. far and away removed from anything ordinary, never mind anything sinful.
He is God.

He ought to be completely seperated from anything ordinary, never mind sinful.
and we are sinful, nevermind ordinary.

but God.
but God condescends.
but God condescends to us.
but God condescends to us, even tho we don't deserve it.
but God condescends to us, even tho we don't deserve it bc we are ordinary.

that is grace. and we should be humbled and awed and full of thanksgiving and praise.

give me my rapture today.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's not Every Day You Get Your Life Threatened

so, i'm walking across the street from the morgan country store to my car, parked in front of the church. a pick up truck, going far too fast for this intersection (as many, many cars do) comes fast that i have to stop. i did as i always do (and will always do, i might add), and shouted "slow down" as he passed.

he stops and backs up to me.

"what did you say?" he asked, in a confrontational tone of voice.
"i said, 'slow down'", in (hopefully) a not so confrontational tone of voice.
he asked, again in a confrontational tone of voice, "are you from around here?"
"yes", i answered.
"right here, in fact, i'm the pastor of the church here" (now, definitely in a calm voice, you can't be the pastor and start a fight in front of the church, now can you? LOL)
"well, normally we slow down, but because i saw you crossing the street i sped up. you better watch out, because next time i see you crossing the street i just might get 'a little closer' and see how you like that."
"well...ok then..."

Thursday, August 16, 2007



Monday, August 13, 2007

Our Week Long Study

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB95) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

we'll be exploring the following questions this week. think about them a bit, if you like post some comments and then on wednesday i'll post some of my own...

Think about the following: What is grace?
Why does God save us by grace?
What does this say about us?
What does this say about God?
What is faith?
Where do you get faith from?
Can you ask God for more faith?
Will God give it to you?
What are works?
Can our works save us?
Even tho they cannot save us, are they good for anything?
Who made us?
What are we made for?
What are the good works we can do?
Can you give several examples?
The most important question of all:
Are you willing to live it out?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


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 a 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; music by U2

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Favorite Snippet of Lyrics

"Sunlight splatters, dawn with answers
Darkness shrugs and bids the day goodbye"

we want:

the big answers
the best answers
the easy answers
the selfish answers
the costless answers
the common answers

but, most times (at least in my life)...

the answers come like the dawn...

flashes of light...
the dim haze growing brighter, be it ever so slowly.
the ever-increasing, invincable advance of light.

i love the dawn.
i love the darkness being defeated.
i love the triumph of the day.
i love the questions being answered.
i love the growing awarness that questions are being answered.

i love the surrender of dawns yet to come.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stumped's been so long i forgot how to log in here...

sorry about that...

i was on vacation...and then we took the teenagers camping and to soulfest...then i needed another

but, i suppose, i'm back...

but, to be honest, i was "stumped". i could have spouted off an answer to the question about what it means to be "unspotted by the world". the answer would have been "right", too. but i really wanted to think deeply about it and not just give an answer that was given to me...i wanted to really think it thru.

i used to think that this verse meant not to do the things the world does. so, very simply it meant living by the old statement "don't drink, smoke or chew and don't hang around with those who do". while i don't recommend drinking or smoking or chewing...i don't think that this is what this verse is saying.

the words used in various xlations are: undefiled; uncorrupted; not soiled or dirty; uncontaminated; unspotted; unstained; not polluted; keep yourself free from the world's evil influence...

what is the world's evil influence? what pollutes us? what corrupts us? what is contaminating and defiling? what gives us spots and blemishes and stains?

is it just "drinking, smoking, and chewing? is it other things we do?? i know...the things we do are important. but i think the NT tells us there is something more important.

it's the way we think. Jesus said it Himself...if we think about a person sexually, we sinned. if we've hated in our hearts we've sinned. if we lingered too long looking in the bakery window, we've sinned (He said that, right?). that's why paul writes "take every thought captive unto Christ" and "be xformed by the renewing of your mind"...

we have to change our way of paraphrase bob dylan.

and as i distill everything wrong i've ever experienced in life...whether it's wrong done to me, wrong i've seen done to others, or the wrong i've committed myself...and regardless if it was an act or just a thought...

the bottom line has always been selfishness.

pick a sin...any the end it's about selfishness.

and so, if we are going to remain unsoiled and unspotted and uninfluenced by the evil in the world...we hve to learn to live selflessly.

thanks for waiting.