Come with us to the Holy Land! November 2012

Pastors Mitch and Jan Todd 

invite you to join them on a special trip to…

Israel:  A Journey To The Holy Land

November 7-16, 2012

Highlights…Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Jericho, Dead Sea, Masada, Qumran, Jerusalem, Wailing Wall, Bethlehem, Church of the Nativity, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion.

The cost for the trip is $3,849 per person for double occupancy room, or $4,699 for a single.   Round Trip Air from KCI is included in the price.

We’re excited to be hosting this trip through Collette Vacations, one of the most respected tour companies around.   The trip will involve quite a bit of walking, but is only moderately strenuous.   We chose to host a 10-day trip because it offers more free time in Jerusalem, and keeps us from moving at such a crazy pace.   This 10 day trip comes with 22 Meals:  9 Dinners, 1 Lunch, and 12 Breakfasts included.   That leaves some meals on your own for exploring!

This trip is being offered to members here at FUMC and at Jan’s church, Bonner Springs UMC, along with other clergy, friends, etc.   Together, we should have an incredibly fun and unforgettable religious experience!  If you know someone you think would like to come, by all means let us know!  Or, just bring them along to an

INFORMATIONAL MEETING:  

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15 at 7pm in ROOM 203 at the FUMC LAWRENCE DOWNTOWN CAMPUS.  (or 5pm at Bonner Springs UMH)

We’ve got a whole year to plan ahead, so if you think you might be interested, come meet with us and get more details!   For me, the dream of actually seeing these places I’ve learned and preached about is very exciting!

If you have any questions, you can contact me at mitch@fumclawrence.org

Grace and Peace,

Mitch

HERE’S ALL THE INFO!

Do ZOMBIES Go To Heaven?

“The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.”  – Matthew 27:52

This one goes out to the Zombies.

You know who you are.   Or maybe you don’t.

What happened to you?  You used to be active, alert, involved.   But not anymore.   Now you march about aimlessly, no destination in mind.  You look at the world through your glazed-over eyes.   I wonder if you’re even aware of life unfolding around you?

Your arms are stretched out in front of you as if you’re reaching for something.  But what ?   Brains?  Heart?  Purpose?   Maybe you don’t even know.

I’d love to get through to you.   Love to undo whatever damage has been done to you.   I’d love to help you undo the damage that you’ve done.  But I can’t help you until you’re willing to come to your senses.  If that’s even possible anymore.

For now, let me just tell you this:  I believe that God loves everybody.   Even Zombies.

So snap out of it!  Though your body may be wasting away, your Soul belongs to God!  There’s more to this life than moaning and shuffling.   So wake up!  I know you can do it!  And this meaningless existence will be left behind like a bad night’s dream.

But, even if you don’t – even if you never blink your eyes and come to your senses, God will welcome you and forgive you.   There is a place for you in Heaven.   Maybe there you’ll see the folly of your tortured life.   Maybe there you’ll find yourself again.

You don’t have to wait, Zombies.   The choice is yours. Heaven is waiting, right here and now.

You can choose to become fully alive, or remain…

Walking Dead.

Have a Great Week (and a Happy Halloween!)

Mitch

images by joshua ryan smith, plastic revolver

HEY BOZO, WATCH OUT!

   The evil are ensnared by the transgression of their lips,
but the righteous escape from trouble.   –Proverbs 12:13

Would you like to hear something silly?

When I’m walking across a parking lot, I’ll find myself annoyed at the drivers.  They don’t watch where they’re going.  They pull out too far into the intersection.  They roll through stop signs and don’t yield the right of way.  In my mind I’m saying HEY BOZO, WATCH OUT!

And then, I get in my car, and switch sides.   Now, I’m a driver, and I find myself annoyed at the pedestrians.  They think they can just walk anywhere they want.   They talk on their cellphones and don’t pay attention.   They’re moving too slowly.  Again, I think, HEY BOZO, WATCH OUT!

I have this terrible fear that someday I won’t be paying any attention, and I’ll run into myself.

Badum bum.

I’m a complainer.   Not a championship complainer, I don’t think, but I’ve been known to mutter, to sigh, and to eye roll.  As I think about my traffic dilemma, above, I realize that I’ve become an equal opportunity complainer.   I apparently don’t care what side I’m on.  I just want to….”Mitch” about it, if you know what I mean.

If you’re like me, it’s just kind of a bad habit.  A go-to state of mind we might not even be fully aware of.   And I under

stand that.   Life is filled with minor discomforts, sidetracks, and conflicts.   It’s hard not to have a constant track of irritation running through your head.  But God clearly wants more for us than that.

In the book of Proverbs, we are presented with all kinds of wise statements–little selections of words to live by.   The passage above is one of a bunch cautioning us to use our words wisely, and to keep tabs on our anger.

So how do we do that?  Here are a couple suggestions:

Look Both Ways When we blunder through life, we’re more likely to crash into somebody else.  Take time to live deliberately and carefully.

Yield  Instead of pretending we have all the answers, we can yield to God, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Relay, Not A Race Life is not meant to be a competition or a race.   Think of it as a relay, instead.  Love gets passed from one to another.

The next time I find myself in traffic — on foot or in my car — I’m gonna be paying attention to the words in my head.   HEY BOZO, WATCH OUT! may not seem that harmful, but the truth is I’m the one acting like a clown.   If I try instead to live “righteously”, as the writer of this proverb suggests, I’m more likely to enjoy my journey.

And if that doesn’t work…

I’ll take the bus.

Have a great week,

Mitch

image by Cyron

THORN

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. –2 Corinthians  12:7b

The debate has raged for centuries.   What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?

In the passage above, Paul talks about an ailment of some sort, presented by Satan himself, that kept Paul from ever being too elated.

Was it a physical ailment?  Some have said Paul had a stutter, or poor eyesight, or epilepsy.  I even read someone who suggesting he had terrible B.O.!  Or was it more of a mental issue?   Could he have been homosexual? (which is also a physical “condition”)  Or depressed?  Or jumpy?  Or perhaps his thorn was a spiritual one:  An evil spirit sent by Satan to torment him?

2000 years later, and there is still no consensus.   No one has figured out what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was.

Until now.

Last week, I was searching around on Ebay, and I found it.   An ancient artifact wrapped up and stored in an ornate wooden box, complete with full documentation.  I bought it for $30 from a lady in Pittsburgh.  I have no idea how she ended up with it.

It just came in the mail, and here’s what I discovered:  Paul’s “thorn?”  It was a thorn.

That’s right.   He wasn’t being figurative at all.  He was being literal!  Paul’s big issue was this ugly red thorn that had been stuck in his side for years and years.   Three times he prayed for God to remove it from him, but, like a stubborn sliver, the darn thing wouldn’t budge.

Eventually, he just learned to live with it.

So that’s that.   Sorry if it’s a let down.  But now that that question is settled, can we move on to the real point Paul is trying to make?

Somehow, God was able to take Paul’s thorn, and put it to use.   Incorporate it, even, into the Big Picture.   Paul makes it clear that, painful as this thorn is, he has learned that it helps him to stay on track, focussed on the Kingdom.  Miraculously, Paul has taken his “issue” and used it in service to God.  Amazing!

I don’t know what your “issues” are–maybe some of the same ones people have suspected Paul as having.   Some of those thorns are short term, and others will be with you your whole life long.  You may have years of wresting ahead of you, just like Paul.  That can seem daunting!

Okay, okay, I confess.   I didn’t really pick up Paul’s thorn on Ebay.  I have no clue what his problem was, but did you notice?  Once the mystery of Paul’s ailment was set out of the way, we were able to take a good look at the REAL mystery:   That God can use even us, thorns and all.

Life, it turns out, is thorny.   But the nature of the thorn isn’t what’s important.   What matters is that God can cause new, fragrant life to bloom, even in the most difficult of situations.

God reminds us to take heart, and to have faith, and remember:

Every Thorn Has Its Rose.

Have a great week,

Mitch

images by jpmatth bobosh_t

In Sync

Something strange happened to me last night.

I walked into the kitchen and looked at the microwave clock.  It said 11:04pm.   But then I noticed the oven clock.  It said 11:00pm.

Curious, I looked at my watch.  It said the time was 10:59pm.

Intrigued, I pulled out my cellphone.  It said it was 11:02.

4 different time pieces.  4 different times.   What in the world was going on?   Well, I’ve been doing some research today and I think I figured it out.  I was in a Time Vortex.  Time was folding in on itself!

Either that, or time is just a little sloppy around my house.

You know, in the movies, when spies are about to pull off some covert mission?  They stand in a circle and hold out their wrists and synchronize their watches down to the exact second?  I always kind of liked that notion, that time could be so dependable and exact.

But I have alarm clocks, computer clocks, car clocks, wall clocks…all kinds of time-telling devices in my life, and I doubt any of them are perfectly synced with each other.   So, why doesn’t that bother me?

I place a lot importance on time.   Keeping track of important dates, showing up on time to appointments, watching the passing seasons, planning ahead.   You’d think that I’d want to keep track of my life down to the last second.

But I don’t.  Not really.

I went to the Bible, curious to see what the scriptures say about time.   There are lots and lots of passages referring to the words “time”, “day”, and “hour”, but do you know many passages mention “minutes” or “seconds”?

None!  None that I could find anyway.  And I suppose that makes sense.   People back then weren’t wearing wristwatches, nor did they have microwave clocks (or microwaves).   The idea of living with such precision–down to the minute or second–would have been quite foreign to them.   And still, they managed to keep important dates, make plans, etc.  It makes me wonder, can you place too much emphasis on staying in sync?

There are clocks with radio signals so they stay perfectly in time with the “official time”.  And cellphones keep their time through their cell towers.  There are programs and websites you can access offering 100% accuracy.

But truthfully?  I’ve decided my own little Time Vortex is kind of nice.   It reminds me that I don’t have to be “on the clock” all the time or live my life down to the last second.   There’s give and take in life.  Room to breathe.  A couple minutes here and there keep me from feeling like a prisoner to Time.

Time may continue to march forward, but I choose to march…

to the beep of my own microwave.

Have a great week,

Mitch