Monday, April 10, 2017

Something is Coming!

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Luke 19:38

Happy Holy Week! This is the week we prepare our hearts for something amazing to happen once again. That something is life, and life external. That something is God's love displayed in the most audacious and selfless fashion. This week is about the passion of Christ, and God's power over death.

Today I would like to just invite you to participate in Holy Week. Find a Maundy Thursday service (The invitation to Communion). Go to a good Friday service and feel the weight of the cross of Christ. Have some family time on Saturday. Pray on Saturday and get ready. Then arise and enjoy the celebration of Easter Sunday! God has won, and death is defeated. Jesus proves He is the King of Kings, which means that we are adopted Sons and Daughters into God's House!

Somethings coming this week Y'all and I could be wrong but I think it's gonna be Big! Selah


Monday, April 3, 2017


Check out this moving song "Your Love is Extravagant" by the band Casting Crowns :

"Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 Common English Bible

I love this song about the extravagant love of God. When I say something is extravagant I mean it's wildly displayed, no expenses spared, and breath taking to the beholder. As we look over the 10 commandments we start with the premise that God is jealous with love for Gods people. He puts His love on display over and over again. Parting the reed sea, rescuing His people from the most powerful army (Egypt) in the world, and coming as the Logos to be full God, full man in the person of Jesus Christ to die for our sins. We see that the command to have no idols is both a sign of God's  extravagant love for His people. I will punish 3 or 4 generations for those who hate me. In other words, those who refuse to reciprocate love back toward God breaks Gods heart and He turns away. How can God not turn away when someone refuses something so extravagant and beautiful? God has put Himself in the seat of humility by cutting a covenant with Abraham and Sarah. He has overthrown Egypt. God has displayed Gods power to full extent to save His people. So how could He not turn away when His love is rejected? 

But, before you get all huffy and even begin to think that God is not good, lets look at how long Gods blessings last! "I will be faithful to the 1000th generation for those who love Me!" There is a bit of a disparity between these numbers isn't there? God's love on display for a thousand generations all because one person decides to trust in the one true God of Israel instead of all the other religious propaganda of the day. If the average age of a person is 70 years  that's 7,000 years of blessing, because someone came to rely on Gods goodness. If even one more person chooses to follow Him in the next generation, 14,000 years of blessing! Do you get what our author is doing here in this text? They are revealing that when you come into God's kingdom and see His goodness the extravagance of Gods grace and forgiveness that is poured out beyond human comprehension. God's jealous love may punish or correct for a moment, but His mercies are made new every morning! Not just this morning, but for a thousand lifetimes over! Gods goodness gets poured over Gods children. Now that is truly extravagant! 

My prayer for you and I today is to know that God's love is so jealous if we would choose to love Him today He will pour out all His love for us day after day for a thousand lifetimes and more! Make today one of extravagant love, because God surely has spared not love for you. Selah


Monday, March 27, 2017

It's in Di Gestion

So, Sunday March 26 2017, was a good one for me as a person. People kept coming up to me and commenting on the weight I have lost, and inquiring the "how?" Now before you start to wonder "how much weight have you lost?" The answer is; "I don't know." Because my goal in this isn't weight loss, instead it's energy gained. I desire to be an active and energized human being at any weight I occupy. So, I focused my attention not on what was leaving my body (lbs.) Instead I focused on my ingestion, or simply what I am adding to my body to make it run better. A great analogy is to go out to car and put brown sugar in the gas tank. If you do this you will spend thousands of dollars in repairs because your car cannot run on sugar. Matters of fact, it clogs up the fuel lines and does immense damage to your vehicle making it unable to run at all.  Our body behaves the same way, the ingestion of healthy food leads to a well running body, and the converse is also true the ingestion of unhealthy foods leads to fatigue, and stagnation. So I am being energized to action not by loss but by gain. I am ingesting things that improve my life and empower me to be active in the world.

Now let's look at this great scripture from the prophet Ezekiel 2:8-3:4 As for you, human one, listen to what I say to you. Don't become rebellious like that household of rebels. Open your mouth and eat what I give to you. Then I looked, and there in a hand stretched out me was a scroll. He spread it open in front of me, and it was filled with writing on both sides, songs of mourning, lamentation, and doom. Then he said to me: Human one, eat this and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. He said to me: Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So I ate it, and in my mouth became sweet as honey. Then he said to me: Human one, go! Go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.

We see that God's word is fed to Ezekiel and fills his belly. I love that God's word is sweet as honey! Ezekiel is going to call Israel to repentance and conversion back to the living God of Israel. It's a mighty task and the only way Ezekiel will be able to accomplish it will be with the Word of God fueling him. Christians today have a noble, but large task in front of us as well. Declaring the goodness of God in a world that sees Him less good everyday. The idea of sin and conviction are becoming "outdated" according to a society that claims no absolute truths, and promotes individuality above all other needs. But, just as with Ezekiel we are called to be the voice of God to help people to turn from sins that lead to destruction, and back into the arms of a good, and loving Heavenly Father! The only way Christians can accomplish this task is to ingest the Word of God and allow it to call us to action by the guiding of God's Holy Spirit. Christians who try to live out their call without feeding on the work of Jesus who is the bread of life, and the also the teachings of the Bible become malnourished and burn out. Or, sadly their task losses it focus and it become social justice without God's mission. Without feeding on the word of God our tasks becomes about human efforts and lacks the power of God's Holy Spirit! The other conviction is gluttony with no action. Feeding on Jesus' teachings day, and night but not being moved to action. This leads to a Christian who knows what God commands but doesn't share this bread of life with anyone else. Anyone who eats too much bread without sharing, and refuses to move, becomes paralyzed by the weight of it. Their lives are all about truth but lacks action, or love toward people whom God loves. They too are waisting their Spirit given potential within God's mission. 

Instead today I am asking God to help me ingest His good Word. To soak in the Scriptures and bring my heart to life! To hear the Holy Spirit calling my name and showing me His goodness and love, and eating the bread of life to becoming energized and alive within my heart. Then from that fount of love pouring into me finding ways to show it off and to share it with a world that needs to know God is both love and truth. This week I am challenging myself and you to eat of God's word everyday! Don't let one day go by that you don't sit down and prayerfully search the scriptures! Trust me it's sweet as honey and filling as bread! Then find ways to share His love and grace with those around us! God's word is the bread of life and His table is open to all who come! Take and eat all you who are hungry, and drink all you who are thirsty, come and find life in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Ingest on Friends!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beast into a Beauty!

Just a quick warning if you haven't seen either the animated or new version of Beauty and the Beast this post might spoil the plot for you. Read on with caution.

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look! New things have arrived!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

So I admit it proudly I had the privilege of watching Disney's live action remake of Beauty and the Beast in Theaters.  It was my favorite Disney movie as a kid, and still is my all time #1. Tonight I was reflecting on why this is? What is it about this love story that connects so close to my heart? 

I find my answer in the Corinthians passage above. It's the beast that intrigues me. We meet him as a vile and terrorizing creature. There is no way anyone could love such a monstrosity, someone who is filled with pain, regret, and rage. In all ways the beast is meant to be seen as the unlovable monster. We take the beast at face value, he is ugly and easily dismissed as too far gone. I know if I am honest I have my "Beastly" moments. Times when my mouth is not encouraging. My attitude is not good. In those moments I feel like an unlovable creature a "Beast." 

But, the story shifts and Bell who is the beauty of the story begins to unlock a deeper truth about the beast. She begins to see the monster as something more and in doing so he indeed becomes something more. My favorite part of the film is not when the beast is made beautiful, that's too cliche. It's the moment I see the beast as a hero in the film before his physical appearance is altered. Nothing outwardly has changed at all in our monster. At first glance there are still horns, teeth, and overall I should see a beast. But I don't any longer. I see a person (Yes a large bear wolf hybrid person) but still something that can indeed be loved. 

I see this at what Christ does for me. Paul tells the church in Corinth that being loved by Christ changes us. When we are living into the power of Jesus Christ even though we don't have a magical outward transformation, inwardly we are created anew. When I accept the love of God into my life the old beastly parts melt away in some miraculous sense.The fears of being an unlovable creature no longer exists, and in its place is the knowledge that I am a child of the Most High and His love for me is unending. That's the beautiful thing about God's love it cannot help but overwhelm us, change us, move away our beastly lives. Following Christ is not beauty and the beast. No dear friends, that implies that nothing changes in us, and God merely loves the beast but leaves the monster in its brokenness. Gods love for us is more powerful than that! Accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the beast becoming beautiful. This Easter let's put down the beast of sin and destruction, because God is not interested in walking with the "Beast" in us, because Jesus has better news for you and I. Christ makes the "Beast" beautiful. Be beautiful Everyone! By Christ alone. Selah


Monday, March 13, 2017

"Where are you?"

"During that day’s cool evening breeze, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God in the middle of the garden’s trees. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'” Genesis 3:8-9 CEB™

Lent is a time where we take a deep look into our own souls. The victory of eternal life is the payoff of Easter, but before we get there first we have to address sin. We see Adam and Eve the first two people after they have openly disobeyed God and now are living in a sinful state. They hear the footsteps of their Heavenly Daddy and assume the worst. They hide.

Let's be honest God knows where they are, and their hiding spots aren't that great, but the more interesting piece for me is the symbolism of the hiding. Before sin, Adam and Eve would walk with God in the cool of the evening. It was the equivalent of a nice family meal together. This would be the time they could laugh, and learn from God and God would display the beauty of creation for them. It was a Father and child relationship that brings tears to my eyes. Until, they sinned. Now the presence of God is terrifying, and sin has caused Adam and Eve to run into hiding believing that God is no longer good, loving, or would care for them. Maybe, as you read this you too are in a state of hiding. Have you ever said this phrase; "If I walk into the doors of a church, God will burn the building down." I know this is meant to be cute, and funny yet all I hear is; "Can God really love me, even though I know I'm not perfect." Sin is the master of deception and it causes us to believe that God cannot be good, nor loving toward us in this broken state. However, God is bigger than you and I tend to give Him credit for.

God doesn't wipe out our sinful beginning. God doesn't come as an accuser. Instead, God asked a simple and  painful question; "Where are you?" Think about the pain in God's heart as His creation now runs away from Him. Noting feels more wonderful than when a toddler comes walking up to me. Conversely, I feel like a monster whenever a little baby looks at me and runs away. How did God feel that moment He entered into the garden only to find that the people He had created were hiding from Him? God calls out, wanting them to come and be in His presence. God wants to love Adam, and Eve yet sin has convinced them that they are now unlovable. This moves us back into the question "Where are you?". It's not a question of location, but a question of relationship. God wants to love and care for Adam and Eve, we wants to walk with them again. But, there is a critical shift in the relationship. God is calling His beloved back into His presence to care for them, but they hide in shame from their Heavenly Creator. But finally  Adam and Eve sheepishly come out of hiding  and God goes to work. 

First, comes an honest inventory. Now sin is here and God is not shy to reveal the brokenness that it has caused. Life will now come with pain, relationships struggle to be balanced, and working will become a struggle. All things we know today about life. Yet, our story doesn't stop there. Even though we have revealed the curse of humanities sin, next God reveals what He will do with them. If I were God this is the point of the story where we start over. The painting can be fixed, and I would make dolphins in my image (they are adorable). Yet, that is not the heart of God, and He offers provision and life in midst of this new sinful state. God dressed the two in leather, a sacrifice in order to cover the humans. He sets them mindfully outside of the garden. This will be the heart of God forever. Painfully knowing that humans will suffer the pain of sin, yet if you listen you can hear God's voice calling out "Where are you?" "I will walk with you even in the middle of this brokenness, and I will provide a sacrifice in my perfect Son Jesus the Christ to cover your brokenness with my holiness, or wholeness." This God how calls out to us even the midst of sin is drastically different than what sin would have us believe. Instead of destruction, there comes provision, and salvation. Lent must deal with sin, and it must be dealt with in death. But, if we listen to easter we see that even though sin always ends in death, when we come to calling voice of God death becomes life. So, are you still scared to darken the doorway of a church, because God is calling to you. "Where are you?"Selah


Monday, March 6, 2017


For God so loved…John 3:16

I know, I know…yet another play on John 3:16. But, Lent is a season of reflection and contemplation of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, murdered at the hands of Jews and Romans to atone for humanity’s shortcomings (sin).

I am approaching this Lent in a new and fresh way, being single again, and contemplating the idea and ideals of love, and, if you’d allow, me I’d like share.

What I have surmised thus far is that we can approach this season of suffering with apathy, or with a sense of overwhelming joy. The fulcrum on which this attitude tilts is John 3:16. Either this is a played out verse that has been placed on too many bumper stickers and T-shirts to affect us, or God really loves me, and you, and the world. I believe it is the latter. The heart of the divine creator turns warmly and powerfully to us. We see His unrelenting love being poured out in death for us. As Paul writes, “Even while we were yet sinners…He died...for me...for you…for us” (Romans 5:8). The love of God for his creation is crazy enough to take a bullet for us.

I am challenging you, as the reader of these words, to pause for a brief second and evaluate if this will be just another calendar Lent for you. You will give up some bad habit in hopes of self-improvement. You will say the “right” Christian phrases, and even darken the door to a faith community during this time. Or, will you, in your heart, with honesty and humility, realize someone died for you, someone jumped in front of a bullet for you? As Jesus lays there bleeding, will you ask yourself one question: “Why?”

Because…God so loved.

In Him,


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lifelong faith

You know its going to be a great blog post when we begin with a Yoda quote.

This week I had the privilege to attend our annual West Ohio Conference (WOC) of the United Methodist Church. I wanted to share a thought with everyone on continuing the learning process. The WOC brought a teacher Dr. Thomas Long from the Chandler School of Theology in to teach the entire conference. Dr. Long brought one simple premise to a room full of trained theologians. The four gospels, and what they would look like if they were actual churches. On the outset, it seemed to be far too simple a subject to educate trained professionals. “Really?” “The gospels?” Most Christian pastors spend a majority of their time in the gospels because these are the teachings of the Christ. But, masterfully Dr. Long began to wander down the road of the four churches, leaving even the most well trained theologians in the room teary eyed, and awestruck by the teachings of Jesus. Here’s a brief summary:

The church of Saint Mark: “We do what we can!” God is bigger than we are, is the mighty power in the world, not humankind.

The church of Saint Matthew: “Casting the nets deep.” Christians are not meant to be saved and moved on, but becoming a disciple of Christ is a forming process, and through the power of God, God’s people can become great by His Spirit.

The church of Saint Luke: “The main piece of the building is the fellowship hall.” Luke sees Jesus as the master of a great banquet and all are invited. Luke’s church is open to all people, and no one is refused fellowship with the God of grace.

The church of Saint John…kinda…The House church of Saint John. “Love” Love and people are the focus of John’s church.

Dr. Long taught us in two parts Monday afternoon, and Tuesday Morning. Check Him out along with the whole conference here at:

I have no doubt you will love Dr. Long’s teachings, but that’s not why I have called this blog conversation to order..oops…Sorry, too many days being in session with parliamentary procedure.

The point today is to note that no mater how long you have traveled the road with God and others there is never a point where you are a know it all. If a conference with over 1,000 churches represented can be moved to applause, and tears with a simple teaching on the most basic books of Jesus. That should signify that God is the great teacher and we are all on this journey to know Him better, no matter our time on the Christian journey. 

In college, I had the overly wise roommate who seemed to know, or informed  everyone around that they were the wisest person in the room. This person was always cynical, and never amused by anything, because why find joy when you have mastered the universe? Hanging around this individual was always draining, and everyone always felts undermined, and belittled. No questions could be asked, because our wise all-knowing friends always responded with snarky and mean answers. No ideas where brought about because they were too petty for this wise sage. Are you beginning to understand the environment around this person? Not a very powerful, or positive one. Why? Because, part of the human to God exchange, or, simply part of being on this earth with others is the vulnerability to express growth, and expose ignorance. Ignorance is not a negative concept, it simply states there are things yet, I as finite person do not know. When we travel the road of life surrounded by people who are willing to help us learn, and also let us teach we are growing in unity together. Otherwise, it becomes a tense place where growing cannot is stifled, or worse, belittled. 

“Have you learned all you can know about God, and people?”  If the answer is “Yes” The the appropriate thing to do is of course repent of this lie, and accept the teachings of the prophet Isaiah, who in the 40th chapter declares, “Who can understand God?” Not that God is entirely a mystery, but that all the ways of the Almighty can not be known in a few quick readings of scripture. Or, unpacked in a few quick listening to skilled teachers, or read in lofty academic theology books.  But, God is learned in pieces, movements, and especially in God’s Holy Spirit. Every lesson will lead you one step closer to knowing God and people. But, do not fool yourself into thinking this road will somehow come to an end. Because, the tragedy in life is not that we cannot know all about God and people, but the converse. The tragedy is not enjoy the journey towards God and people. We are called to be curious creations following after our brothers and sisters in the world, whilst trying to find our Heavenly Father and know Him in every facet of His Grace! If we become less sure about our  knowledge, and more sure about the adventure here the seeds of a life long faith are planted. I would like to suggest that as the Christians church we do two things. One, God is working in us and our relationship is growing with every breath of the Holy Spirit, and through every curious creation seeking their Creator. Secondly, we cannot believe the journey can end, because we must know more about God, through The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, because the Triune God deserves to be known.

I am pleading with you in all sincerity, if I as a trained clergy can be renewed by a simple gospel lesson, then you can be renewed in whatever step you need to take in knowing more about God and others. Whether you have never known God through the powerful story of Jesus Christ, or you have been around God for a century. You do not know all God wants you too. You have not mastered God or people. Know this friends the adventure is not in arriving at full knowledge, but chasing after God into the wild unknowns of the world, and the Heavens. Finding new roads, new understanding, new emotions, new lessons. Life is the adventure to know God, and to love people. Will you adventure with me? I will adventure with you!

Strive on my friends, Strive on,

Pastor Richard