Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Garage Sale Sorting

[From 5-18-15]

"You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us."
(2 Corinthians 9:11)

This Saturday we're having a garage sale.  After 15 years of living in the same place, we need to get rid of a fair amount of "stuff" we're no longer actively using (and thus, it has been collecting dust in some corner of some room in our house for years!).  

As I'm getting ready for Saturday, I'm going through items one by one.  Some things bring to mind a particular person that I'd like to give it to: certain books, poker chips, our soccer tent, etc.  My first reaction is to give it away.  But then greed creeps in and I contemplate how much it could fetch if I put it up for sale at the garage sale on Saturday?!?!

In the end, I think I'll give much of it away to friends, after all.  People have been SO GENEROUS to us over the years.  It's such a joy to bless people with something they'll use and appreciate.  

Paul reminds us of this truth in his 2nd letter to the church in Corinth.  They'd pledged to give money to help the "home church" in Jerusalem.  He's now reminding them of the blessings that come from living lives of generosity.  May I keep learning from that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Letters of Recommendation

"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?  Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts."
(2 Corinthians 3:1-3)

It's scholarship season for many high school and college students.  I write a fair amount of letters of recommendation every year.  Committees need letter of rec, so they can get a better sense of the candidate applying for their grants.  A well-written letter can be the difference in a person's application that separates him/her from the rest of the pack.

Paul knew about letter of recommendation.  How important they can be in many situations.  But he saw something even greater - the testimony of another person's life - especially in relationship to his own life!  Paul loved the church in Corinth.  They'd lived together, loved, laughed, cried, & struggled.  But through it all, they were one!  One body... one spirit... one Lord among them.  Want to know what Paul was like?  Look at the people of Corinth.  They reflected Paul & his ministry.  Paul didn't need any official letters from folks telling him how good of a pastor he was.  No. Those relationships were already written on his heart in indelible ink, for all the world to see!

I kind of feel like this is what I'm going through now.  As I get ready to depart, I know I've been shaped by the people of Aiea UMC.  I know I've helped shape them, too.  Do you want to know what our ministry was like together?  Just look at the people.  They're my letters of recommendation!  People who laugh, love, care, commit, reach out, and feel for one another.  Because that's the work of the Spirit in all of us.  That's what we've tried to do together.

Will I be successful in Palmdale?  Who knows.  Personally, I don't think God calls us to be "successful."  I think God calls us to be faithful.  Will my ministry with the people of Palmdale be fruitful?  I sure hope & pray that is so.  But I don't need any "official" letters of recommendation from our denomination to tell me how well I did at Aiea UMC.  Those letters of rec are already written on my heart... and on the hearts of those who make up our ohana.

Thank you, everyone.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Long enough.

"The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain.  Resume your journey...'"
(Deuteronomy 1:6-7a)

15 years is a long time.  I've never lived in one place longer than I've lived here in Aiea.  So much goodness has taken place here.  My children have grown up here (Ezra from 1st grade though high school; Emily from preschool through high school).  I've grown as a pastor, follower of Jesus, husband, father, and friend.  I've rediscovered the power of Scripture to speak into my life.  My marriage has grown.  I've developed hobbies (painting & photography) that will carry me through my life.  It's been an amazing 15 years.  And this chapter now comes to a close on June 30.

Moses led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the Wilderness.  It was both amazing and frustrating at the same time.  God's presence & power was amazing!  The peoples' grumbling and dissatisfaction with the lack of "amenities" was frustrating.

Then they hit Mount Horeb.  The place where God spoke to them.  They experienced God's voice and presence in a real & powerful way.  They received "the Law" (including the 10 Commandments).  Sure, there was that unfortunate golden-calf incident, but for the most part this was an oasis to them in a sea of uncertainty.  And now it's time to go.

"You have stayed long enough on this mountain," God says.  Long enough.  What needed to happen has happened.  Rest and rejuvenation has taken place.  A strong foundation has been laid.  Now it's time to "resume your journey."

I was very surprised when my DS called to say I should expect another DS's call.  I knew that meant I was moving.  Out of Hawaii.  It was a difficult prospect to imagine I'd have to "leave the mountain" of Aiea (and Hawaii, for that matter).  I have stayed long enough.  I have given and received what God intended for me.  I have grown and been stretched.  I have loved, and loved, and loved... and cried with a community of faith, as situations arose.

I will not leave this mountain the same as how I came.  I am a completely different (renewed!) person.  Praise God!

It's time to resume my journey.