Archive for April, 2013

JOY IN THE JOURNEY

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

The journey toward becoming an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church began in earnest in January 1995, on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.  It was there that Bishop Alfred Norris, while delivering a mediation to over 240 United Methodists on two boats in the middle of this large body of water, a body of water on which Jesus walked, said, “If we don’t go back and make the world a better place, I don’t know for sure because I am not God, but I think that God will be disappointed in us.”

This journey, which began over eighteen years ago, has included becoming more involved in the life of the church as a lay person, going to seminary, serving as a pastor in four churches and now having the honor and privilege of serving as the Amarillo District Superintendent.  What a journey it has been!

My journey as a disciple of Christ has been filled with many wonderful and incredible moments.  It has been filled with excitement, happiness, affirmations, aha moments, manifold blessings and awe at how God has worked in my life, all the things usually associated with joy.  It has also been filled with trials, tribulations, challenges, grief, doubt, and even anger at God for a season when my mother died at the age of 48 when I was 22 years old, all these things usually not associated with joy.  It has been a journey filled with growth, transformation, learning, new beginnings, continued discernment and much, much prayer.  It has been a journey which has gone from asking the question, “What do I do Lord?” while still working as a geologist in Midland, Texas, to now asking the question, “What will you have me to do today, Lord, so that I might faithfully serve you as one of your disciples?”  There is joy in the journey, even in the midst of life experiences that bring us to our knees, a joy that is filled with the assurance and inner peace that God is with us, no matter what, accompanying us and yes, sometimes carrying us, along the way.

Michael Card is a Christian folk singer and contemporary artist whose songs and lyrics are inspired by the biblical witness of the Christian faith.  One of my favorite songs of his speaks to the joy we can experience in the journey of life and to what we are called to do in order to experience this joy no matter what we face in life.  Here are the words to the song, Joy in the Journey:

            There is a joy in the journey, there’s a light we can love on the way.
            There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for those who obey.
            And all who seek it shall find it, a pardon for all who believe.
            Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind.

             To all who have been born of the Spirit and who share incarnation with him;
            who belong to eternity, stranded in time, and weary of struggling with sin.
            Forget not the hope that’s before you, and never stop counting the cost.
            Remember the hopelessness when you were lost?

             There is a joy in the journey, there’s a light we can love on the way.
            There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for those who obey,
            and freedom for those who obey.1
 
My prayer is that you will find great joy in the journey God has called you to and that your life will be filled with joy, a joy that is shared with others so that they might experience the joyful presence of God through your life as one of God’s dear children and disciples.

The journey continues . . . !!

Blessings,

Paul

1 From the Audio CD entitled, Joy in the Journey: 10 Years of Greatest Hits (The Sparrow Corporation, Brentwood, TN., 1994).

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT . . .

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Love is a “many splendored thing.”  Thoughts about it fill the airways and emanate from IPods daily.  The words “I love you” are spoken, experienced, felt, dreamed, imagined, yearned for and hoped for by most every person on earth.  It is dramatized on the big screen and the little screen, and now the littlest of screens, smart phones and the like.  Love is expressed and lived out daily throughout the world.

Love is a part of who we are, wouldn’t you agree?  But, it is also a part of our lives that is defined in so many ways, many good, but some not so good as this characteristic of human life is misunderstood and often taken for granted as we are in relationship with others.

Tina Turner’s hit song of 1984 entitled, What’s Love Got to Do with It, spoke about the idea of love and relationships.  The song, I think, points to difficulties of love in our relationships with others.  The refrain of the song summarizes love, then, in the midst of those difficulties.

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

What’s love but a second hand emotion?

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

This past week on Good Friday, we witnessed once again what true love, never ending love looks like.  In the midst of Jesus’ suffering, in the midst of Jesus’ pain and agony, in the midst of Jesus’ hanging on a Cross, in the midst of Jesus’ dying, love shone through it all.  There on the cross, Jesus witnessed to what love does have to do with it.  In the midst of his broken heart, a heart broken by those who claimed to love him, those who he called friends and all those who just a week earlier had welcomed him into Jerusalem shouting great hosannas, love was lived out fully when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a, NRSV).

For Jesus, love was not a second hand emotion.  It was a way of life, a way of thinking about others before thinking of Himself, a way of expressing deep feelings about others without worrying about the possibility of a broken heart, a way of living that transcended His humanity and connected Him with His heavenly Father so that others might experience the never ending love of God through His life as God’s dear child.  For Jesus, love was life itself.

As disciples of Christ, we experience the love of Christ each day.  In the midst of our human frailties, in the midst of our shortcomings, in the midst of our brokenness, yes, even in the midst of our sinfulness, what a blessing it is to know that we are loved by the One who loves us unconditionally.

What will be your response to Jesus’ unconditional love today as you live as one of His disciples?  How will others experience the never ending love of God you offer as you give praise to God through your life?

What’s love got to do with it?  EVERYTHING!

Blessings,

Paul