The Morgan Church Devotional

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

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

With Nothing to Say...

should we even try to speak? or would that be like splattering paint on grass and trees?

when the meloncholy comes...does one listen to the meloncholy of others, or something else?


sometimes you listen to nick drake

other times you listen charles wesley

and sometimes it makes no difference.

today it is nick drake...

and i could swear it is charles wesley.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Posts about God, Floyd and Me...

Money, So They Say...

is the root of all evil, today...

well, mr. waters quoted the bible wrong....

money isn't the problem...loving money is the problem.

i remember a lunar eclipse when i was in college. it was early in the evening and there were a few dozen students outside the student center waiting for it to start. just as it was beginning, a friend of mine came out of the student center, stood at the top of the stairs, raised his hands in the air and said in a theatrically eerie voice "people, listen to me... i will make the moon disappear unless you give me all of your money" was quite comical.

this story is kind of like that...only less comical

on one of christopher columbus' later journeys to the new world his crew was in harbor in jamaica...the ship had a worm problem and was in danger of sinking. they were there for a year or so...

all that time they were living off the indians...and, to be honest, they were taking advantage of them. the indians had had enough of it and started to rebel a bit. they stopped supplying the crew's needs and (i would guess) maybe even began make some sort of threats...

CC knew he was in trouble...without the indian's help his crew would never last until a new ship could be days, or weeks or (probably) months.

but CC was a smart cat. like all sailing captains, he was familar with the seaman's mapped out various solar and lunar events and was very precise. he knew that in 2 days there was going to be a lunar eclipse and scheduled a meeting with the indian chief for just prior to it.

he told the chief that his (CC's) god was very displeased with the indians bc they stopped helping him. and bc he was so angry, god was going to make the moon disappear! i'm sure the chief scoffed at the idea...but CC gave him the exact time...





the moon disappeared. gone. the indians were in a fright. what could be done? what could they do? what would happen next?

the chief came to CC and asked him to implore his god to have mercy on them. CC retired to his study to do so and watching the clock...came back out just b4 the moon began to return...assuring the indians that, if they continued to provide for CC's crew, god would have mercy on them.

i'm a capitalize God kind of guy. in these posts and in email...i rarely capitalize anything, even my own name. but i always capitalize God...or Jesus...or He or Him...i think it's right to. i don't neccesarily think you have to...but i like to.

but when i wrote about columbus' disappearing moon trick...i couldn't use capitals...i don't know if CC was a christian...he may have been in the church...but i don't know if he was a follower of Jesus...i've heard the stories that he was... but, in this situation, his god was money...or himself

and this thing here...what he did...was wrong. it was out right deception. it was brilliant. it's even pretty funny...but it was wrong.

and it makes me think of all the wrong that's been done by christians...especially when it's done "for the cause of Christ"...and it's flat out heartbreaking.

i don't think twice when someone rejects what i say to them as i try to tell them about Jesus...i can't blame them.

we're guilty.

God help us to own our corporate sin...all the things the Church has done thru the centuries that are so far out of His character that (if it weren't so terrible) it is sad sad sad...

and then help us to own our personal sin...all the things we've done out of His character...all the grudges we held...all the gossip we spewed...all the lies we smiled thru...

and then, maybe, we might have some standing to tell them about God's love.

Everything Under the Sun is in Tune...

but the sun is eclipsed by the moon...

our family went out to take the garbage and saw the beginning the the lunar eclipse. i told the kids that God was hungry and took a bite of it.

we came inside and i sent the kids up to brush thier teeth and get in bed and told them i would be up in a minute to put them to bed and watch the rest of the eclipse. i fiddled for a few and carlo came down for something and i said "go on up...i'm going to pick out some music to listen to as we watch the eclipse." "what are you going to pick, daddy?"

what else is there to listen to during an eclipse????

dark side of the moon.

so i went up stairs and put it on...very atmospheric...perfect. i guess those floyd boys new what they were doing when they made it. we sat and told stories (the stories you just read and others about george washington ["he lives near the bridge", bella said]and martin luther king--i don't why...they asked about them)... then we just listened to the music.

the moon continued to slip away...

half gone...

three quarters gone...

almost gone...

then it hits me...the moon is going to "disappear" at about the same time as the last line of the album (

how cool...

but it couldn't happen exactly, could it?

the lunatic is on the grass...


the lunatic is in my head...

almost gone...

and if the band your in starts playing different tunes...

a slice...

i'll see you on the dark side of the moon...

a sliver...

all that you touch..

a shaving...

all that you buy, beg borrow or steal...

a glimmer...

all that is now...

a shimmer...

all that is gone...

a gleam...

all that's to come...

a shine...

and everything under the sun is tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon...


so, what does it mean?

God digs pink floyd? you mean, it really is ok to listen to secular music??? does this in some way validate "dark side of the rainbow" ?

i don't know what it means, other than life is pretty cool when things like this happen. those little moments when it feels like God takes direct concern for your life and your loves and says "i think i'll zap that jake guy with a 'howzit?!!' and let him know i love him".

we all appreciated it. we talked for a moment...then had a prayer thanking God for His goodness and kindness and His interest in our likes and lives.

kissed and said goodnight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Outline for 16/17 February 08

“Being Active”

“Good Things are the enemy of Great Things”
God can & will do Great Things in us and thru us!

When we become active and join Him as
“co-workers” (1Cor 3:9, 2Cor 6:1)

Everybody is active, but active doing what?

Are you content with your life?

We can be active doing bad things
Gal 5:19-21

God puts parameters on things

Because going past God’s limits hurts us
— think of a fence —
He is our designer (Ps 95:6-7; 103:13)
God isn’t a “killjoy”
He knows what is best
And He knows what will hurt us
(For an explanation see Rom chs 1 & 2)

Note: Gal 5 is one list—it’s not a “tiered” list—
one is as bad as the other
Because sin “interrupts” our relationship with God

What to do if you find yourself in sin:
Change your way of thinking (Acts 2:39, 3:19; Eph 4:23)
Confess your sin to God (1 Jn 1:8-9)
Ask for forgiveness and trust you are (Mt 6:12)
Stop that behavior (Mt 3:8)

We can be active doing things we think are good but in reality are fruitless

Doing religious things* is fruitless
*We define this as our efforts to earn God’s love and favor
Religious things produce some of the “works” in Gal 5

Just thinking about being spiritual is fruitless
Prov 28:19

Just “doing church” is fruitless
Like going to the pool and not swimming

We can be active doing good things
See Eph 2:10 and Heb 10:24

Good Things are things that lead to your spiritual growth
Some info on worship: Jn 4:21-24; Mt 22:37-38, Rom 12:1-2

Or things that lead to other’s personal spiritual growth
Evangelism (Mt 28:18; 1Pt 3:15)
Discipleship (Lk 17:24; Eph 4:20-32; 2 Tm 2:15)
Fellowship (Acts 2:42; Heb 10:25; 3:13)
Service (1 Pt 4:10-11)

We measure activity against what it brings in return

Bad things bring sin & death & disillusionment
Fruitless things produce frustration

Good Things bring earthly blessing & eternal reward


i put up all of the verses of the day for this week bc i thought i would not have enough ink in the ol' printer to print them all out for every one. turns out i did have enough...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

VOTD for Saturday 23 February 08

Saturday: 1 John 2:15 (MSG)
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father.

VOTD for Friday 22 February 08

Friday: 1 John 2:13-14 (MSG)
And a second reminder, dear children: You know the Father from personal experience. You veterans know the One who started it all; and you newcomers—such vitality and strength! God's word is so steady in you. Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.

VOTD for Thursday 21 Feb 08

Thursday: 1 John 2:12-13 (MSG)
I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name. You veterans were in on the ground floor, and know the One who started all this; you newcomers have won a big victory over the Evil One.

VOTD for Wednesday 20 Feb 08

Wednesday: 1 John 2:9-10 (NLT)
If anyone says, "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves other Christians is living in the light and does not cause anyone to stumble.

VOTD for Tuesday 19 Feb 08

Tuesday: 1 John 2:7-8 (NLT)
Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment, for it is an old one you have always had, right from the beginning. This commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. This commandment is true in Christ and is true among you, because the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining.

VOTD for Monday 18 Feb 08

Monday: 1 John 2:3-6 (NLT)
How can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. If one says, "I belong to God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar & doesn’t live in the truth. Those who obey God's word really do love him. That’s the way to know whether or not we live in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.

VOTD for Sunday 17 Feb 08

Sunday: 1 John 2:1-2a (NLT)
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you b4 the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins.

VOTD for Sunday 17 Feb 08

Sunday: 1 John 2:1-2a (NLT)
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you b4 the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Upon Discovering I Wasted My Time

one of my favorite albums is chicago's a greatest hits album, the one that has the band falling off of scaffolding while painting the familiar chicago emblem. it is a great isn't one of my top ten...but it is well loved and listened to often...when i'm feeling down and need a little pick me up. it does that for me.

starts off rocking with "25 or 6 to 4"...who knows or cares what it means. then comes the existential wondering of "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?"...can you keep from smiling as the horn section comes in? it slows down quite a bit for the prom favorite "Colour My World"...a song i thought was cool bc it used the british spelling for color...kind of like pink floyd's "Any Colour You Like" kind of have to say it different...but i digress. "Just You and Me" gets skipped sometimes, but it isn't half bad (trks 8, 9 and 10 always get skipped and won't even be mentioned other than this).

then comes "Saturday in the Park"...a great little smile as your toe taps song. first, that great carol king piano...organ and then the horns. sweet.

it has a line in it "a man selling ice cream, singing italian songs" that we'll get back to in a few.

it took me a while to listen to "feelin' stronger everyday"...i thought it was chicago smaltz...but it grew on me and rocks at the end.

and then the last song, "Beginnings". great rhythm guitar riff...great percussion... great for the entire (almost) 8 minutes.

so, let's skip back to "sat/park"...

he sings: "a man selling ice cream singing italian songs"...and then this wonderful (i'm sure) italian phrase...every time it comes on i think i should know it. so i start thinking about it. i should be able to understand it! i mean, i'm italian (well, half)...i'm good with languages...i could even appropriate some of the spanish i learned over the course of 10 years of overhearing dina talk to her mom.

i put it on again. and again. then i start scrolling back and listen to that phrase over and over (having USAF flashbacks of listening to tapes over and over trying to figure out what...oops, that's as far as that goes)"...comay' aday...esay nodre'..." or something like that. that's all i could come with. but they must be very meaningful, right? so i keep trying.

then i get an idea...find the lyrics on line...well...every where i looked it said something like "unintelligable italian words"...they can't figure it out either!

then, it hits me, wikipedia! of course! they'll have it! i hear they have everything.

as it turns out...the phrase is made up italian sounding syllables. they aren't real italian, portugese, spanish...or anything's just nonsense.

and i wasted my time.

and the question hit much time do we waste on things we will never figure out and wouldn't change anything even if we did?

just wondering...

and perhaps the bigger question is how did the band that recorded all of the above songs end up recording junk like "you're the inspiration"?

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Live in a Silvermine and I Call it Beggar's Tomb

i think if i were allowed to steal one lyric and say it was my would be this hunter line from "uncle john's band".

think about it...close your eyes...paint the picture...

our place of abode is full of precious metal. it's every the floor, in the walls, in the ceilings. we have to kick it out from the treads of our shoes.

our joyce meyer limited edition commode is made out of it.

we cover it up with rugs and pictures and paintings. we drill thru it to make more space...we even sweep it up and dispose of it in a big pile in the back where nobody can see it.

all the while cursing the drudgery and crying poverty and begging for...something.

we are oblivious.

oblivious to our blessings. oblivious to His promise. oblivious to His provision. oblivious to His presence. oblivious to His person.

we are rich. i don't mean with money...altho if you compare our lot to most of the world's, we are rich that way too, believe it or not.

but we are rich. we have a God who loves us with a love that is bigger than the sky. bigger than the sky. bigger than the sky.

do you get that? His love for us...His love for you is bigger than the sky . say it a few times.

His love for me is bigger than the sky. tell this (it may sound silly, but please PLEASE please do it..."mike, God's love for you is bigger than the sky. it is bigger than the sky and it is for you".

i've seen some big things in my life. i've been to texas. i've seen the wtc and empire state building. i've sailed on the ocean and seen a whale. i've seen mt. rushmore (it wasn't as big as i thought, btw).

when i was a kid my dad a '62 cadillac with slip slidy leather seats (and no seat belts. it had those was...a yacht. there was no way in the world i was going to take that car to my driving do you parallel park something that big?

i've laid on my back on a bright summer day and watched the clouds and picked out shapes...there's a mountain...there's a whale...there's a building...whoa...there's a cadoo! can't you see the tail fins.

amazing how even the biggest things we can imagine can fit in the clouds of the sky...we see them, white and dreamy, floating by...shifting shapes all the while. i often wonder how big a particular cloud is...does someone in another state see that same cloud? how about in florida or california or honduras or...china? i don't know.

but i do know that of all the big things i've seen in this life...there's nothing bigger than that great, big, blue, sky.

and God's love for me is bigger still.

thanks be to the God who loves me bigger than the blue sky. i'm glad He forgives me for calling it my beggar's tomb.

Outline for 10/11 February 08

Producing a Loving, Active
Network of Believers
“In the GRIP of Love”

Because God loves, He is GIVING
Some verses to look up later:
1 Jn 3:16; 4:8-10; Jn 3:16 & 2 Cor 5:17; Phil 4:19
He also gives us trials: Jas 1 & Heb 12

Because God loves us, we can RESPOND in Love
We love because we are loved
We can only love to the degree we realize
how much we are loved
For a great story illustrating this see: Luke 7:36-50

People might get INSPIRED to seek God
if they see His love in us See 1 Jn 4:1-12 (esp v 12)
People look for God, but have trouble finding Him
We have the privilege of “showing Him” to people
INSPIRING and helping someone to seek God
is a wonderful feeling

Love is shared on PURPOSE & w/ PURPOSE
Jesus had a PLAN
He didn’t give in to temptation (Mt 4)
He didn’t give in to pressure (Jn 2:1-11)
He didn’t give in to feelings (Mt 26:36-46)
He didn’t give in to opposition (Mt 26:47-27:54)

Decide you will love with the Love God has given you
Commit verbally to someone that you will do so
Think about how you will show love to people
Follow thru with loving people

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Dad's Dream

like most musicians, i always thought the idea of my kids being musicians very cool. we didn't want to push it, however.

music is almost always playing...whether it's the radio or just me...but we never imposed it on them...i was very afraid of turning them away...souring them...

joe chose the violin. he chose it. we didn't suggest it...we didnt' even encourage it. he always loved the sound and wanted to learn to play it. it is a hard (maybe the hardest) instrument to play and he struggles at times; but as he says, he likes to persevere.

carlo chose the drums. altho i think it would be safe to say the drums chose him. i think he's amazing...sometimes we're playing and he's just lost in the rhythm. out of the three, he likes music the most...he always asks for it to be on, and he has exceptional taste in music...he likes the clash the most--gotta love that.

bella chose the piano. she has a knack for playing with both hands and staying in key...that's pretty cool. sometimes she just plays b4 church in the morning...she's just playing...but it sounds lovely, like a symphony. i don't think it's bc i'm her dad either...but it may be.

any way, the coolest thing happened last night. i came in and the twins had my electric guitar (which i had left out after partially restringing it)...they were struming it and then (as only twins can do) they both said "daddy, your guitar is out of tune". they were right.

it made my day.

The Island's New Start

tonight we'll be watching lost...

but this post is from last week's recap episode.

the narrator (ben) wonders why the losties (they are often referred to as "our gang" ) would want to get off the island. he says something akin to: "why would they want to leave? the island has given them a new start. their old lives are over and they all had something to hide".

jack betrayed his father and his marriage crumbled. kate is a murderer on the run. sawyer is a con man. hurley cursed with good luck for him and bad luck for others. jin and sun are unhappy and trapped in it by her dad. rose has (island induced in remission) cancer. charlie a washed up rock star addicted to heroin. sayid was a torturer tortured by his memories. every body seems to be hiding from something...and those who aren't? well, we just haven't seen their back stories yet.

but here on the island they've found a bit of redemption. a newness of life. sure, there are hardships...there are mysteries...there are dangers...but there is a new start. plus, there seems to be abundant food and adequate shelter. they have the support of their fellow refugees...companionship...friendship...they even have old dharma beer.

so, why would they want to go back to, the real world? for convenience? for validation? for pleasure? for what? the old life wasn't a good life, don't they remember? they were universally unhappy and thouroughly unfulfilled. thier best sides have come out on the island...they have a chance to fulfill their potential.

i suppose you might say that they ought to learn to live within the "confines" of the island...learning to live within it's parameters...adapting themselves to it's ways.

that's what you have to do with new life.

hey...check out the band i'm currently listening to...a bunch of american white folk playing indian-christian music sung in hindi...amazing. click on the lyrics tab to read what they are saying (you have to do it twice, if you aren't familiar with myspace)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


my oh my...

when the scripture says "hope deferred makes the heart sick" knows what it's talking about.

i grew up about 15 miles from giants stadium...saw a few concerts there...drove by it a thousand times...

but i was never a nyg fan. my dad was a jets, i was too. in my mind (for right or wrong) the "new york football giants" were akin to the yankees (but w/o all the world titles). they were the "other team" in my snotty nosed cousin liked them, so i hated them.

plus, i'm an afc fan. with the exception of the packers, there isn't a team in the nfc i would root for.

so when we moved to new england 10 years ago, i slowly made the transition to being a patriots fan (i've always been a red sox fan...we have a common enemy in the yankees). it was quite easy...the jets (the team i root for) have been...well, the ny jets and that isn't going to change anytime soon...and the pats have been awesome.

but, i'm not a real fan. i'm a fair weather fan. if the pats went to stink...i'd keep my own misery with the jets, i suppose. however, i was rooting for them.

i was rooting for them bc i adopted them as my team.

i was rooting for them bc they are a great team.

i was rooting for them bc everybody outside new england wasn't.

i was rooting for them bc they were playing the giants.

i was rooting for them bc they had a chance at history.

so, at about 10:30 on sunday night...i think that was what time it was...i had a dull ache inside. it didn't hurt...i wasn't going to cry...i didn't get angry at every little thing...but there was a dull ache.

i can only imagine what a "real" patriot fan must feel. worse, what any of the patriot's players or coaches must feel. that dull ache must feel like they had surgery done with a butter knife and a spoon...a table spoon.

there are other dull aches in life. there are other disappointments that are far worse than a football game.

people disappoint us. friends does...our kids might...our parents, too. drivers...bookies...our dogs do...cats, too (but they don't care).

life is full of disappointments. and sometimes the spoon borne pain is so great (not searing, not piercing, not burning...just aching), we don't know what to do, or where to go, or where the pills are.

i remember those pains. i remember the zombie stare it brings. i don't look forward to ever feeling it again...but chances are i will at some point.

but i've learned something...altho life isn't as trivial as a football game, alot of things are trivial. i still sweat some small stuff...far more than i should. but i try not to.

i've learned another thing...i've learned that the most important thing in this life is my relationship with Jesus. i guess i should have known that sooner...well, i think i did know that, at least in my head. and i try to let everything that happens, whether good or bad or indifferent, drive me closer to Him rather than become a wedge between me and Him (if that last sentence isn't grammatically correct, it is theologically correct--think about it). and i find that when i live this way, it makes handling disappointment a whole lot easier.

Sermon Outline for Feb 2/3, 2008

Producing a Loving, Active Network of Believers

If their “life needs” are met (food, nourishment, etc)
Healthy organisms will always produce

God intends for His people to produce

He wants us to “Bloom where we are planted”
Ref: “Hind’s Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard

We bloom when we recognize God’s work in our lives
See Rom 8:28-29; Heb 12:5-11; Jas 1:2-4
Just as a flower pushes thru dirt and stone to grow
We should also push thru the difficulties in our lives
(whether great or small)

God’s love is revealed in nature
Ref: “To Own a Dragon” by Donald Miller
Psalm 19; 36:5; 103:11

Reasons people become a Christian
1. To be moral
2. To go to heaven
3. To be a part of an organization (church)

These are all good, but:
The best reason to be a Christian is to be in relationship with God
That’s God design for us

Jesus called it being born again: John 3
It is a complete new start
2 Corinthians 5:17
Ref: “Lost” Clip show
Narrator: “Why would they want to get off the island? They all had a new start when they came here. If they leave, they lose that”

If we are in right relationship with God, we can/should be in
Right relationship with each other

A part of being in right relationship is not trying to control each other
When we control our (or someone else’s) we act as if God isn’t in control

Where are you?
Going thru difficulties?
Need a new start?
Need to “lose control”?