The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

hey ho let's go

lost starts tmw...


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wasted Worry

i was once a young man with a head of hair that, apart from it's lack of color, looked like exploding fire works.

there was a lot of hair up there.

i used to be able to hide several bright yellow pencils in it.

once it measured 22 iches across...we measured it. it was huge. it was every where. it was unruly and curly and frizzy and coarse; and, to be honest, i don't know why i ever wore it that way.

it was pretty freaky. i attended a vocational school...i took four years of technical drafting and design...3 hours a day we drew machine parts in orthographic projection...i was pretty useless in it. my mind never worked mechanically...i am definitely an abstract sort of thinker...but iwas in td & d.

do you know why? bc it was the only shop that would allow my hippy head of hair in.

welding didn't want me to catch on fire. carpentry did want me to get caught in a saw. sheet metal didn't want me scratching up the tin with the giant brillo pad on my head.

i guess the drafting dept wasn't worried about me getting my hair caught in the pencil sharpner...

any was a lot of hair. when i finally got it cut (as in, i met a girl)it filled a kitchen garbage can...

what was i thinking? the height of my "nest head" (as my friends called it and me) i was visiting a friend's house and his uncle said to me "you are going to be bald headed!"

i laughed.

he said it again "you are going to be bald headed, i'm telling you". "now way" i replied, "look at all this hair". "lots of people have hair in their teens, son. i can see it. you are going to be bald headed".

wow...i thought. my older brother had already started thinning on top...could he be right?

"no" i told the man. "i'm not. i just have a high hair my dad". i think i was trying to convince me more than i was trying to convince him.

i can't go bald! i thought. i'm nest head...i have more hair than absolom (2 Sam 14:26 & 18:9--you have to stop right now and look up those verses!)...and i dismissed what the man said.

but i wondered. he might know...he's been around...he's bald. what if i go bald?

soon, wondering became worrying. and you know what you say about worrying! so, then i was worried about being so worried...all the while thinking that all my worrying was going to cause my hair to fall out.

occasionally i noticed hair caught up in the's starting, i thought. would i look? maybe i should just shave my head bald now...why wait? why go thru the torture of explaining? why feel bad all the time? just get used to it!

well...even with all that worrying, those of you who know me today know i have (high hair line and all) a thick, wooly head of blue (that's a whole nother story) hair. of course, thanks to my own uncle (sam) i've learned to wear it a bit closer to the bone...but it's all there.

i was worried about something i couldn't change. it did me no good...why bother?

don't worry for your it. love it. grow in it. trust God.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


"look over your shoulder and tell me what's coming
tell me what is the bogey that you're so afraid of
the eyes in the back of the head can persuade
that just for the moment
mercy has swayed"

from "look over your shoulder"
by mark heard

so, the other day the kids had a friend over and they were all outside playing. after awhile they came in and said, excitedly, "daddy! there's an animal in the field!"

"an animal? what kind of animal?"

"i don't know!" they screamed.

"but it's down by the trees. we saw it!" said joe. "yeah! he was right down there!" said carlo. "he was down by the tree. and he sat up and looked around just like this" said austin (looking like a prairie dog from mutual of omaha's wild kingdom).

"what did he look like, austin?" i asked. he looked kinda funny imitating it. soon all the kids were doing the audy prairie dog.

i stopped them by asking, again, "what kind of animal is it?" "we don't know, but he's down there".

so i put on my boots, coat and hat...contemplate going to get the shotgun (if it's a wounded or rabid animal...), get the dog's leash and head out with the kids to see what kind of animal is down in the brush inthe back of the yard.

from up on the driveway i see what they are looking at. it is dark...brown or probably even black. what can it be? it's not a skunk (thankfully). it could be a porcupine...maybe it's a beaver heading over to the stream. i doubt it's an otter...i wish bob was here, he knows this stuff. maybe it's the elusive fisher-cat (a weasel like mammal that is common up here in vermont, but still seldom seen).

before we start to get close, i try to get the dog's attention. i don't want him getting to whatever it is first. he won't come...altho, he doesn't pay any attention to the fisher-cat in the yard. i know it should have been a clue to the final outcome of the situation...but hey, i was caught up in the excitement of children's imagination. the kids caution me..."daddy, don't get too close!" and "here! take this", giving me a plastic toy sword. "i don't think i'll need that" i say, still thinking about going to get the shot gun.

i finally lure the dog close enough to me to get his leash on (some good it would do me if it was something...i don't think i could really hold gordon!). and we begin our advance toward the bob-cat.

the kids are all saying "did you see that?! it moved!". and "i wonder what it is?!" as we creep closer adn closer...wondering why the panther doesn't just run away. "it must be hurt", i think to myself. "hmmm...this might be dangerous." i say to the kids. "every body get behind me" (the great hunter)

you could feel the tension in the air, even tho there was quite a breeze (that's why gordon didn't know the bear is down there...the wind was blowing the other way and he couldn't smell it).

as we get closer...i begin to focus on the animal. as i do, my mind races about what our next move will be. put the dog in the house...get the gun...proceed with big sticks and plastic swords...

what a minute. the big animal that's moving around and picking it's head up and looking back and forth...?

it's an old log.

i knew it.

there's a ton of lessons in that story. i'll write about that later...

i have an ambush to plan with the twins. joe is coming home late from school and we have a handful of those popper things and we're pretending the power is out and when he comes into the music room, we'll toss the poppers at his feet!

oh, the imagination of children.

yeah that's it.

When Nothing Becomes Something

funny how just a few words changes everything.

the other night bella wouldn't fall asleep. it was getting late andthe boys were both asleep, but bella? bless her stubborn heart, refused to allow herself to fall asleep. it may have been that she fell asleep in the car earlier in the day, i don't remember...but regardless, it wasn't a big deal.

not yet.

after awhile i went to her room to see what the problem smelled. not bad...but not good. now, with boys around you get used to bad smells; but it wasn't a smell like that.

it was...almost good. was supposed to be good...but, either way, it was overwhelming in it's strength (i've a sensitive nose)...

speaking of noses...

me: my dog has no nose.
you: really? how does he smell?
me: terrible. but that's beside the point.

ok...back on track here...

so, bella obviously has doused herself in cheap, girly-girl, dollar store, flowery-fruity, perfume. her hair was even matted with the stuff...i don't like it (the smell, that is)...but it's not a problem.

well, not yet.

so i ask her, "bella, why do you smell?" lifting her arm and sniffing at her underarm (hey, she has 2 brothers), she replies "i don't smell".

"you do, bella", i say, scanning the room for a bottle. "you smell like you are wearing perfume. are you?"

"no daddy."

"of course you are. i can smell and i can feel it in your hair. why would you lie about it? it's not a big deal. where did you get the perfume?"

"i'm not wearing perfume."

oh my.

must it come to this? this is senseless and needless...i just want her to tell me the truth.

bc it wasn't a big deal...but it is now.

what's happening in major league baseball is similar. ok...steroids are a bit more of a big deal than cheap perfume...but, bb didn't have any rules against for years.

it was/is wrong...but it wasn't criminal. at least it wasn't was unsportsmanlike. it was cheating. it was desperate.

but it wasn't a big deal.

not yet.

but then, they lied about it. over and over and over and over and over. they lied and lied and lied.

they lied to the press. they lied to their peers. they lied to their competitors. they lied to their families. they lied to themselves. they lied so many times they must have forgot they were lying...

bc then they lied under oath.

and now, it's a big deal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There are Three Things I Don't Understand

four that just confuse me...

how boats sail on the water
how a snake moves on a rock
the way of a man with a maiden

and a compact disc with a music lover...

this happens with me occasionally.

i've owned the cd "whatever" by aimee mann (she of "voices carry" fame) for at least 10 years. i suppose i listened to it when i bought it...or at least tried to listen to it. but i don't remember it at all. in fact, i remember not liking it.

but it's been sitting on my shelf (at least it's not in the box with the other "unlistenables") for most all of that time. i was really convinced i don't like it. i don't know why...i just was.

today i looked at it and must be decent, right? so i put it in.

and...well, it's been in all day. it is very, very good.

she deserved her fame with "voices carry" (an excellent 80's tune)...she deserves more now (well...when this came out anyway).

expanded outline for bible study use 13 jan 08

Make a Plan

Remember: God has a plan for your life! (Jer 29:11)

Making a plan for spiritual growth

Step One:
Assess your old plan (or lack of a plan)

Ask: Is it working? Are you growing?

Read the following passages:
If you aren’t growing, you have : Works (Gal 5:19-21)
If you are growing, you have: Fruit (Gal 5:22)
What are some of the works of the flesh you see in people?
What are some of the works of the flesh you see in you?

What fruit do you see in others (around the table)?
What fruit do you want them to see in you?

If your plan isn’t working and you need to talk to God
See 1 John 1:8-9

Step Two:
Set some goals for spiritual growth
Spiritual Goals are difficult because they aren’t concrete

Avoid goals like:
“I will do __________(read, pray, witness, etc) more”

This is a “works” based solution
Works = Religion
Works is trying to please God so that He will love you

We need to have a “promise” based solution
Promise = Spirituality
Spirituality based on God’s promise wants to please God because He loves you

Choose to grow in your relationship with Jesus

Step Three
Align your plan with God’s plan
Proverbs 19:21 “man has a plan, but God’s purpose wins”

His plan for you involves:
Sharing your faith (Has to do with Evangelism)
Tell your story! In your words. (Mt 28:18)
To whom can you tell your story?
Name some people in general (ie: Co-workers, neighbors)
Now be specific ________________

Sharing your gift (Has to do with Service)
Grow to maturity (Eph 4:11-12)

What are some gifts listed in the Bible
(1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:1-8)

Sharing your life (Has to do with Fellowship)
Be like Jesus (Rom 8:28)

How has God been working in your life?

What are the things Jesus did in His earthly ministry?

How can we imitate Him and do the same?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Outline for 13 Jan 08

Make a Plan

Remember: God has a plan for your life! (Jer 29:11)

Making a plan for spiritual growth

Step One:
Assess your old plan (or lack of a plan)

Ask: Is it working? Are you growing?
If you are growing you have: Fruit (Gal 5:22)
If you aren’t, you have : Works (Gal 5:19-21)

Step Two:
Set some goals for spiritual growth
Avoid goals like:
“I will _______ more”

Choose to grow in your relationship with Jesus

Step Three
Align your plan with God’s plan
Proverbs 19:21 “man has a plan, but God’s purpose wins”
See also Acts 26

His plan for you involves:
Sharing your faith (Evangelism)
Tell your story! In your words. (Mt 28:18)

Sharing your gift (Service)
Grow to maturity (Eph 4:11-12)

Sharing your life (Fellowship)
Be like Jesus (Rom 8:28)

Outline for 13 Jan 08

Make a Plan

Remember: God has a plan for your life! (Jer 29:11)

Making a plan for spiritual growth

Step One:
Assess your old plan (or lack of a plan)

Ask: Is it working? Are you growing?
If you are growing you have: Fruit (Gal 5:22)
If you aren’t, you have : Works (Gal 5:19-21)

Step Two:
Set some goals for spiritual growth
Avoid goals like:
“I will _______ more”

Choose to grow in your relationship with Jesus

Step Three
Align your plan with God’s plan
Proverbs 19:21 “man has a plan, but God’s purpose wins”
See also Acts 26

His plan for you involves:
Sharing your faith (Evangelism)
Tell your story! In your words. (Mt 28:18)

Sharing your gift (Service)
Grow to maturity (Eph 4:11-12)

Sharing your life (Fellowship)
Be like Jesus (Rom 8:28)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Commentators, Coaches and Preachers

"always pray. and while you're praying, pray for me. pray that God would give me an opportunity to preach the gospel and that He would enable me to speak it with clearity and power that people could hear it and understand it and put it into practice"
Colossians 4:1-2 (TMSD version)

i was just reading an article where 3 commentators gave the "keys for jacksonville to upset the patriots".

they said things like:

"Well, nothing replaces experience and the bottom line is that Garrard just doesn't have it in this situation"

"Tempo, tempo, tempo...The best to slow the game's scoring pace."

"There are two keys, really – the first and most obvious is patience; the second, and one that must be achieved for the first to have any realistic chance of being relevant, is staying within striking range"

such things are all true. but, how do you do it? sure, the key to winning the game it to score more points than you allow the other team to score. to have your offense play better than their defense and your defense better than their offense. you have to keep brady-moss contained. you have to keep them from getting first downs. you have to avoid going 3rd and long all the time. you have to tackle and not get tackled. of course.

but the real question...the question the coaches have to answer is: how do you do it?

that's the difference between commentators and coaches.

oh, that i would be a coach and not just a commentator when i preach.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

There is a Goodness to God and a Curse to the Numbers

isn't there?

a patience...a kindness...a gentleness...a other-worldly love that is so very different from what we normally experience in this life.

it's more than a "get out of jail free" card. it's more than being excluded from is a grace-filled offer of relationship with God.

it is an offer of a relationship that could not exist otherwise. it is a door with no outside handle or lock being opened to us and for us.

hmmm...kind of like the hatch in season one of lost.

locke and boone "accidently" come upon a metal hatch...a bunker buried deep in the ground with hurley's cursed numbers etched into the side.

after excavating it, they see that it has a door, but no handle or opening device of any kind. they begin trying to open it in various ways...banging it, beating it, using a device that is based on the game mouse trap. nothing works.

they don't know what is inside...they just want to get inside.

for some of them it's the mystery of what could possibly be inside.
for others it represents a way off the island.
for others it's a safe place to hide from the bad(?) guys.

but, regardless of why they want in, it is impossible to get in.

it begins to affect locke and, filled with despair and confusion, he beats on the hatch, begging for an answer. at that moment a light from inside the hatch goes on. we later find out desmond turned on the light. also filled with despair and ready to kill himself, he heard locke's pounding and viewed it as a life is on the way.

in the end, they blow open the hatch. it is an "unnatural" or unintended way to get in. and in the end, they become slaves to what is inside.

there's a great metaphor here...

God's vast, immeasurable, indescribable, wonderful, amazing grace is offered to us. but when we seek entrance to it in any way other than in the intended mannner (humbly, contritely)...we become slaves to religion.

when we seek God to get out of the trouble we're in. or to gain something we don't already possess...or to get rich...or for any other like reason...we don't get the real thing...we don't get His grace, His unmerited favor.

we're stuck with a cheap imitation of relationship with HIm...pushing the numbers in obedience bc it will be the "end of the world" if we don't.

what are you settling for in life? what is the nature of your relationship with God? are you pushing the numbers in fear based obedience, or are you enjoying His presence?

Monday, January 07, 2008

080106 sermon outline

God has a P.L.A.N. Pt 1.

God has a P.L.A.N. for your life and for His Church
Key verse Jer 29:11

No plan = stagnation
(see Pro 12:11; 28:19)
Think of a person’s garden

Am I actively “working the field of my heart”;
Or do I just think it’s a good idea?

Growth is Always Intentional
Keywords: Decision, thoughtful, responsible, accountable
(see Lk 9:57-62)
Why do people put off their decision to follow Jesus?
Bc of what others might think
Bc of what they might lose
What happens if you look backwards when you plow?

Growth Always Requires Commitment
The cost of discipleship is great
It costs your life

Growth Always Happens in Response to Challenge
Why does God allow bad things to happen to us?
What are some challenges we face?

Follow Paul’s life
(see Acts 20:23)
Read thru Acts 13-28
What are some things that happened to Paul?

Growth always produces benefits
What are some things we can “grow” thru difficulty?
(see Jas 1 & Gal 5)

Every believer should have a PLAN for growth—do you?
Start with a decision & a commitment
And then follow thru!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Poor Amish Kids

dina and i have resisted getting video games for the kids. but we finally gave in and my mom brought her old N64 to give to them. they are in there now...and my kids are clueless as to how to do it!

give 'em a week.

Explanation of Previous Post

"Were I to focus on a defect
I could be the actor
And play the devil
Who casts grey skies and doubt on what is certain otherwise"

hmmm...jim eliot once wrote (quoting robert browning):

"only two people knew what i meant when i wrote that: me and God. now, only God knows"

it took me a few...but i think i

but i was thinking about how we can focus on one (or a few)character flaw in an individual and sully their reputation and have them remembered poorly.

i thought of my own dad...i think he was a great man; and, to be honest, there is no one else i would want to model my life on than his.

he was honest.
he was kind.
he was good.
he was gracious.
he was wise.
he taught better than anyone i know...and he never taught me once.

i miss him's coming up on six years since he died.

but anyway...for all of my father's goodness, he was also a man with faults. if i chose to focus on them...i could probably paint a different picture of who he was and convince people he was...well, fill in the blank.

when we do that in someone's life we become just like the devil, the "accuser of the brethren".

we can choose to make people look good or make them look bad...

i don't want to be in league with the devil.