Mar 14 2014

Lent

Lent is a traditional season of the Church year... the 40 days leading up to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.  It feels sometimes like many of us get so caught up in our daily lives that we side-step or simply forget about these transformational opportunities on the Church calendar.  It's a very special season of reflection, repentance, and restoration as we approach Easter Sunday.

What will the season of Lent 2014 mean to you?  Is it just another period of daily life to check off your to-do list?  Or could this truly become a time, a daily journey, in which you choose a closer walk with Jesus?  You can probably guess which choice I'm praying you make.

For many, Lent has always meant a season of "giving something up" to identify more closely with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  But to be honest, I've always struggled to catch on to this tradition.  I'm not knocking it if it's something that is helpful to you.  But I've always had a hard time understanding how giving up chocolate or soda pop relates to what Jesus did for me. How could giving up some of the luxuries of my life truly relate to the depth of suffering Jesus took on my behalf?

If "giving something up" for Lent is a part of your tradition and it's meaningful to you, please don't stop.  That's not what I'm saying. But for those who may relate to my struggle, maybe there's another sacrifice we could make that could connect our hearts to the suffering of Christ during this season of the year.  Maybe instead of "giving up" something, we could consider "giving forward" something.  Maybe our sacrifice could become thinking of others as more important than ourselves.  Maybe during our 40 day journey of Lent we could create a proactive daily goal of saying only kind things to those around us.  Maybe we would choose to be encouraging to those around us.  Maybe there are relationships that need forgiveness.  Maybe someone in your life has a financial or material need that you could meet.  We could get still for 5 minutes in the morning and pray, "Lord, how would you like to use me in someone's life today?"  And let God show you.  Keep an eye and ear open for an opportunity God places in front of you.

To me, things like time, patience, money, forgiveness, understanding, grace, etc., are all things that require some sacrifice from me.  And they are all things that contribute to building up the kingdom of God.  It's this sacrifice for the genuine benefit of others and this kingdom-building motivation that helps me identify more closely with Christ -- not just during this season, but all year long.  Giving forward shows God I know what matters most in my life:  people.  Giving strengthens my faith.  And it makes me more like Jesus.

Blessings to all as we journey together through the season of Lent.

Pastor Bud

 

Dec 31 2013

Final Post of 2013

Here we are, the final day of 2013 with a great and wonderful New Year laid out in front of us!  It's such an exciting time to be alive and to be called and purposed together for the work and cause of Jesus Christ.

First, let me say it's been an honor and privilege to be your pastor for these past 13 1/2 years at HRC.  How time flies!  What a blessing it has been for me that God has brought our lives together to serve Him and the Church.  Thank you for loving me when I'm on top of my game.  Thank you for loving me when I'm not.  Thank you for sharing your life and being used by God for His purposes.  In particular, thank you for supporting my family during a bumpy year filled with a lot of loss.  When I leave this life, I want to go out sliding into home-base!  It's just such a pleasure to be with all of you until that day arrives.

I pray for us today as we anticipate the New Year.  This is the year where God is about to do even greater things in our midst than we have ever seen!  This is the year where we will become even more focused upon what God is doing around us -- and run to join Him in His work.  This is the year all of us will take another step closer to trusting God with everything in our lives, knowing that our true foundation and strength is only in a deeper walk with Him.

God has put a love in me for each of you that is beyond my understanding.  Not that you are hard to love, but that you are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I would go to the ends of the earth to see you even more anchored to the immense love God has for you through Christ Jesus.

May this be your year.  An incredible year, regardless of the circumstances in your life.  A year where you partner fully with all God is doing through the love of His Holy Spirit in your life.  A year where we refine and focus with intentionality on making and equipping disciples and being used by God to the fullest extent possible.  May this be the year when we completely and without reservation give ourselves to the purposes of God while we yet have breath and life.

Happy New Year!  May God bless you richly in this New Year -- for His purpose.  And may you see that purpose more clearly than ever before.

Love,
Pastor Bud

Dec 05 2013

An Advent Message

Dear Friends,

Advent means “ a season of waiting and preparing for the anticipated birth of the Messiah.”  Or, as Webster’s dictionary defines it, “a coming into place, view, or being; an expected arrival.”

"A season of waiting."  That's the part that sometimes snags me.  Waiting is not easy!  I see it in the eyes of my grandchildren and the children of the church as Christmas begins to approach.  And honestly, waiting isn’t easy for us adults either.  But waiting doesn’t have to be a time of inactivity or a time of feeling paralyzed by unanswered questions or developing anxiety about the future.  Waiting CAN be a time of taking a spiritual posture of listening to the voice of God in your life.  It can be a season of quieting our thoughts and coming into a place of humble celebration of the sovereignty of God.

As we posture ourselves in humility during these weeks of Advent, we are given the opportunity to reflect with thanksgiving for our faith journey with the Lord.  How has God been at work in your life?  In your children’s lives?  What pieces of the puzzle of life are coming into place as you seek to walk in obedience and continue to surrender your agenda to God’s?  Who has God used to help you spiritually along the way?

It is my prayer that Harlem Road United Methodist Church has been one of the instruments that God has used to help you continue in your faith journey.  It is a profound privilege and honor to be re-appointed by our Bishop as your pastor and to see how God is using the people and ministries of HRC to help many going through “advent” (waiting) seasons in their lives to boldly take another step in their faith life.

As we draw near the end of Advent, whether it be in the “waiting” or the “coming into a place of agreement” with the Lord, I’m praying that you will continue to experience the presence of God among the family at Harlem Road Church through the Spirit that binds us together with love, so that with one heart and voice, we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...born anew in our hearts in this beautiful season.

Praying God’s richest blessings upon you and your loved ones in this Christmas season.

Remember you are loved!
Pastor Bud

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