Ash Wednesday

Last night, we started our Lenten journey by observing Ash Wednesday. We joined together to come face-to-face with our sinful nature, to repent of our sin, and receive the grace, love, and mercy that comes from Jesus.

At the end of the service, people came forward to dispose of their sin (we wrote down things that separate us from God on small cards and threw them in a large trash can) and receive the sign of the cross on our foreheads.

After the service was over, I was gathering my things and Emily and Sammie came down the aisle. Sammie asked if she could get a cross too. My answer was, “of course!”

I got the ashes, gave a two-year-old interpretation of what it mean, and made the sign of the cross on her forehead. She was very serious about the whole thing. Then, she wanted her mom to show her what it looked like in the mirror.

When we got home, Emily and Sammie went into the bathroom to get cleaned up for bedtime. Sammie came out with a washcloth so I could wipe my cross off. I asked her if I had wiped it all off and she said, “Well, I guess that’s the best you can do.”

It was a great night!

Shuffle Playlist

So, I continually get these notes via facebook about favorite songs, top albums, and music that changed ones life. I have yet to compile a list of any of these. The ones that I really like are those that tell you to put your iPod/mp3 player on shuffle and list the next 25 songs that play. I prefer this because it takes much less thought. It reveals what a person really listens to, rather than what they would put on a list of their top albums or songs of all-time (because, let’s face it…we’ll all try to impress one another by seeing who can list the most obscure tracks and albums). Anyway, I decided to set my iTunes on shuffle and started writing down the next 25 songs that played. I’m not claiming that any of these are my favorite songs of all time. But, they are on my iTunes playlist…so I must have at least liked them enough to download/sync them onto iTunes. Here’s the list:

  1. Orbits – Medeski, Martin, and Wood
  2. Get to the Table On Time – M. Ward
  3. Mansioned – Chin Up Chin Up
  4. Kamera – Wilco
  5. High and Dry – Radiohead
  6. As the Sea Holds Creatures Vast and True – Tommy Guerrero
  7. Better Together – Jack Johnson
  8. Sierra Leon – The Derek Trucks Band
  9. My Flying Saucer – Billy Bragg & Wilco
  10. Home – The Redwalls
  11. I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie
  12. Someday the Waves – Iron & Wine
  13. Gagging Order – Radiohead
  14. Bandits – Billy Cobham
  15. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 – The Flaming Lips
  16. Minor Threat – Minor Threat
  17. Pass the Mic – Beastie Boys
  18. Bend to the Road – Calexico
  19. Tea & Cake – The Sea & Cake
  20. Seglopur – Sigur Ros
  21. Maybe I’m Right – Pete Yorn
  22. Break The Same – Mute Math
  23. Screw the Law – Black Flag
  24. Wholly Yours – The David Crowder Band
  25. The Scientist – Coldplay

Wisdom from Prevention

One of the numerous magazines Emily receives at home is Prevention. Sometimes when I am overcome by boredom, I will thumb through the pages of this magazine. Today I found a short article that just might have some helpful information. 

The article is called “Hot Secret for Instant Bonding.” Sounds kind of racy, doesn’t it? Well, here is what it says:

“Want to feel closer to a loved one? Just hand her a hot drink: Clutching a steaming beverage – whether coffee, cocoa, or tea – can elicit a flood of positive feelings, according to a Yale University study. This may be because people associate physical warmth with emotional warmth, say the researchers. Study subjects held cups of either hot or iced coffee; those gripping warm mugs were more appreciative of friendliness in others – and also felt more generous and trusting themselves.”

Given the results of this study, I’m beginning to think that it would be beneficial to use this information when preparing for meetings. When I know that we might be dealing with difficult subject matter, I should make sure that everyone has a warm beverage. Maybe even cranking the heat up a degree would be helpful???

 So, if you have to have a stressful discussion with a friend, family member, or co-worker, be sure to bring them a hot cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa!

What’s Your Problem?

As I’ve been preparing for this Sunday’s teaching, I have continually been coming back to Philippians 2:14-15. These verses say, “In every thing you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.”

These are powerful words that have a lot to say to us. I will explore these words in greater detail on Sunday morning. I’m wondering what thoughts come to your mind when you hear these words???

For me, I’ve come to find that too often the things we complain and argue about are often the small things. We let our minor differences create major problems. Rather than humble ourselves and realize that we’re majoring on the minors, we take minor things and blow them up. These small things end up causing division, quarrels, controversies, and an unhealthy environment. For an example, I know a person who left his church because of a fight about the color of paint used in a Sunday school room. And, when he shared this with me, I think he thought I was going to tell him he was right!

What do you complain and argue about? Why?

Cast Your Vote…

Now, I’m not promising to go with the results…However, I truly would like your input.

This Sunday, I’ll be following up our message on seeking out God’s healing. There are a couple of directions I’m thinking about heading.

One is to talk about how as healed and forgiven followers of Christ, we are not supposed to let the triumphs of the wicked weigh us down. Instead, we are called on to do the good that God has called us to…without grumbling and complaining. I’m thinking a good sermon title would be “No Whiners.”

The second path is to talk about how as healed and forgiven followers of Christ, we are called to pursue unity, peace, humility, love, and compassion. We are called to focus on doing good and avoiding evil. And, we are called to always be prepared to give an answer for why we have hope. A potential title for the message is “Unity…Peace…Compassion…Humility…Love…Are You Kidding Me?”

So, what do you think? “No Whiners” or “Are You Kidding Me?” What do you think we need to wrestle with?

In order to find out the direction I go, you will have to join us for worship at Center Chapel on Sunday morning (or simply check out the website and watch the video).