Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best Laid Plans

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gospel Reading - Luke 12:22-32 (from the Message)
22-24He continued this subject with his disciples. "Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
25-28"Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don't fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
29-32"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

Yesterday I awoke in Pittsburgh, PA to snow. Snow!? In October! The picture on this post is from our front window. In the two winters we spent in Pittsburgh we had never experienced snow this early in the year. Normally snow for our family would bring a bit of excitement because it is a sure sign winter and all the festivities that come along with it, is here. The kids would be excited to go outside and play and I would be looking for an excuse to curl up on the couch with something hot to drink. Yesterday, however, snow was not a part of my personal plan. Yesterday we were packing up our most needed possessions into our tiny car and driving our family from Pittsburgh to Plymouth, Mi, where we will hopefully live for some time to come. The snow was not welcome because I knew I was going to have to stand in it to get our car packed.

I set out to accomplish my task as quickly as possible but the snow had other plans. Quick was not a part of the snow's vocabulary because quick movements landed me on my backside covered in a cold muddy mess. After getting changed into new clothes, I set about my task a little more slowly this time. It was very difficult to pack everything we needed into a two door volkswagen golf which also needed to fit three kids and two adults. This would have been a chore in perfect weather but the snow continued to bring extra problems. Our day did not start out well but we eventually got ourselves crammed into the car and got on the road. We all had a little less space than normal since we had to share our seats with clothes, pillows or toiletries and food. This led to quick tempers and cranky kids. The day did not seem to get better as we got caught by a highway patrol speed trap in Ohio and got a speeding ticket in a construction zone with amazingly little construction going on but plenty of cops.

Today's gospel reading is perfect after the day we had yesterday. So much of my life is spent worrying about time. Either the pressure of deadlines looms over me or the guilt of time wasted. Jesus knew that most those around him also worried about things which they couldn't control. I was so worried yesterday about following a schedule and getting to Michigan in my planned time. God was not so worried about my plans and it seemed He even had opposing plans. It very well could have been a test of my trust in Him. Was I going to relax and trust that the God who takes care of the ravens and the wildflowers would also take care of the Thomas clan on our relocation? I am not so ego centric to think that God arranged weather patterns for my own lessons but also know God is intentional enough to take full advantage of the plans He has laid out to form His servants in the likeness of Christ.

We are now safely in Michigan and in the scheme of things our bad day yesterday was pretty trivial. The weather in Michigan is much warmer than the weather we left in Pittsburgh. We arrived here in plenty of time to unpack and relax before having dinner with some new friends. Even the speeding ticket will soon be a distant memory. Our goal now is to try and relax and take things as they come trusting that God will provide exactly what we need as a family. Today the Thomas' will choose to bless God by praising Him for all He has provided is with.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Welcome Message

I am starting a new adventure in life.  Well, really it is an old adventure entering a new phase.  For the last eleven years I have been working for Churches in various positions and at the same time completing degrees for the purpose of becoming a Pastor.  My undergraduate degree was done at what used to be a tiny ministry based college in Northern California called San Jose Christian College.  By the time I graduated with a Bachelor of Art degree in Bible and Theology and dual major in Counseling Psychology, my school had moved campuses, changed names, changed from quarters to semesters and completely re hauled their curriculum into a liberal arts university.  I served for three years after graduation as a full time youth minister in a Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara, Ca.  During my time as a youth minister God opened doors for me to attend seminary and eventually led me to enter full time seminary to finish my Masters of Divinity degree.  I ended up in Pittsburgh at a Presbyterian Church (USA) school called Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (the best Seminary in the States if you ask me).  Having now finished my M.Div and the process for preparation for ordination in the PC (USA), I have been extended a call as Associate Pastor of Family Ministry Development at First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth, Mi (FPCP).  Quite a mouthful, but it is exciting to see such a long process of preparation begin a little bit of fruition.

I hope this blog will serve as a place for me to reflect on ministry and provide daily devotional thoughts based on the Daily Lectionary Passages used by the PC (USA).  I will attempt to make the devotional thoughts "Family Friendly" to be used during a daily family devotional time by families at FPCP.  At the time I was writing the previous sentence my 19 month old son came running up the stairs screaming like a banshee because of something his sister did to him.  I know well the difficulty of developing a daily devotional rhythm with a family of young ones.  This blog will be an experiment more than anything else.  I welcome feedback from anyone reading as to what worked and what didn't so that I can be mindful of how to best provide a practical devotional thought for the whole family each day.  Let's figure this thing out together.

Along the way I will also be posting links to sermons I have preached or sermons I have found particularly moving and hopefully will have an update on my ministry reflections and family life twice a month.  This way some of you who know me can keep up on what is going on with the Thomas' from a distance.  I don't know about you but I read many blogs on a daily basis.  The best way I have found to do this is through subscribing to the blog's RSS feed via Google Reader.  Every day I browse through my subscriptions and read what catches my eye.  Many of my subscriptions are blogs of friends who I have moved away from and it is a great way to keep up to date with what is going on in their lives.  If you have never used an RSS subscription tool like this, Google Reader is very simple and makes reading through your favorite blogs an easy process.  Lastly I want to welcome you to this space and thank you for reading, as surely I am probably one of the least important or knowledgeable voices in your life, it means a lot to me that you would take the time to read my thoughts.  Peace and Grace to you in Jesus Christ.