January 2, 2011

2010 Christmas Blessings

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:45 pm by Steve

Grace and Peace to You this Holiday Season! 

 
 

  As the world bustles around you in search of love and meaning, may your heart rejoice with the true love of Christmas. May the coming of God’s light fill you with unquenchable hope and bring you moments of inexpressible joy that fills your heart with peace and love.

 
 

   I thank God for all the ways you have supported First United Methodist Church and its mission to make more people aware of Christ’s coming, ministry, and mission throughout the year. I thank God for the many hands and feet that have been the apostles, saints, and disciples of this generation through whom God has worked to bring eternal life and hope to our families and friends. Your labor continues to bear fruit in countless way. 

 
 

   I thank God for the many saints I have been privileged to know and serve but who now rested from their labor and belong to the ages. They have been a great source of wisdom and grace and I will miss them deeply.

 
 

   As you gather with your family and friends over the next several days, remember the joy of this day and the promise it holds for the days that are yet to come. Jesus said, “take heart for I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]

 
 

  As we move into 2011, I pray that God’s love astounds and awes you even more with new insights into the power of transforming grace, new opportunities to practice being Christian, and new moments of humility and gratitude.

 
 

So this Christmas, I pray that the Reign of Christ, the Love of God and the Passion of the Holy Spirit permeates every area of your life and bring you peace, now and always.

 
 

Blessings,

Steve

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December 12, 2010

Christmas Eve Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:46 am by Steve

Almighty God,

We gather this evening in the cold and dark of winter to sing songs of joy and hope, to bring light into the darkness and to bring warmth and hope to the hearts of those troubled by doubts and fear. May each candle be a prayer for peace and a sign of our resolve that the darkness will not prevail.

We thank you, O God, for the unquenchable hope of the prophets, the liberating peace of the angels, and for the inexpressible joy we find in Christ our Savior. We thank you, O God, for the Christmas spirit that unites us and for the presence of your Spirit to inspire us tonight and throughout the coming year.

We ask now O God that you continue to bless our homes, our community and our nation with peace and gratitude. This we ask in Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

December 9, 2010

A Taste of CS Lewis

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:32 pm by Steve

CS Lewis is without a doubt my favorite writer. Notice I did not say my favorite Christian writer as if that made him a lesser author. CS Lewis’ keen mind and use of allegory and clarity of storytelling revealed so much about the nature of God, myself and the world I live in that I scarce would have discover much of it on my own in 10 lifetimes. I owe so much of my faith journey to him for allowing me to see the world through his eyes and see the Kingdom of God for myself.

From the “The Case for Christianity”

  • Whenever you find a man who says he doesn’t believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later.”
  • “This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.”
  • “Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it.”
  • “Safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other.”
  • “Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.”
  • “Badness is only spoiled goodness.”
  • “God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.”
  • “Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.”
  • “It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.”

Facts or Myths

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:43 am by Steve

When people cannot get facts, they will settle for myths. When people are faced with facts, they will often prefer the myths they are being asked to reject in favor of facts.” — James Hudnut-Beumler

 

Today more than ever before the church is changing. It is also changing so fast that no one is able to predict where it will be in five years. When people don’t know where the church will be they assume the worst, they believe the lie that says “evil forces are at work in the church and that “good old time religion” is being stripped away.

That is a myth. There really are good well intentioned praying, faithful, Jesus loving disciples working tirelessly for the flock of Jesus simply because Jesus asked them to. Most are burned out, frustrated, exhausted and confused about what happened, but most do have a heart of grace and love of God. If you disagree with the changes that are happening in the church ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I disagree with the theology that is being expressed?
  2. Does it inconvenience me and force me to change?
  3. Can I explain this program or change to God?
  4. Have I prayed for my church leaders?

What you choose to believe about the good folks in your church will for the most part be your witness about Jesus Christ.

Are you distrustful, critical, angry and bitter at God for changing things or

Are you encouraging, prayerful, thoughtful, and grateful to God that nothing is ever stagnant but the Gospel remains relevant and in the hands of serious disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Will you believe the trust or the myth that may sound better?

December 8, 2010

2010 Family Christmas Letter

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:19 am by Steve

Well it’s been Another Interesting Year,

I suppose Katelin wins the prize for the most significant life changes this year. In March, Katelin visited the University of Rochester to interview for a position in their graduate program in Psychology. She was very surprised when they called the next day and offered her a full-time research assistantship. In May, she graduated Magna Cum Laud from Marietta College with a BA in Psychology, and in August we moved Katelin into her first apartment in Rochester, NY where she then started classes at the end of August. Her new address is: 84D Clintwood Court, Rochester, NY 14620. We got to see her again over fall break and Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a long Christmas break. Classes, I am told, are going well and thanks to her boyfriend Taylor, she is getting out and exploring the Great Lakes region of New York and Buffalo.

Alex has been very busy this year. He participated in a state-wide weekend youth leadership retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club at Jackson’s Mill, WV. Alex was nominated by the Williamstown High School teachers to represent the school at the retreat, and although Linette and I knew this would be a good experience for Alex, we still had to really force him to attend. At the end of the retreat, Alex was awarded the outstanding student leader by the other teacher who attended the retreat from across the state. Because of the award, Alex was invited to return next year as a counselor and to mentor the other students.

Alex participated in soccer last spring and fall and is now involved in swimming. Alex is also a certified grade 8 referee in soccer and last spring and fall officiated local recreation games to pick up some spending money. He is doing well in school and currently is interested in toxicology, although that is subject to change.

Abbie is coming to the end of the fall semester of her second year at Marietta College. Her major is Graphic Design but she is doing very well in Communication and now exploring career options in this as well. Abbie works in the local Mall in a clothing store called Rue 21. So between taking care of Rylan, school, sorority and working, Abbie stays very busy. Sometimes she says hi when passing through.

Steve started Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, KY in the fall of 2000 and finished in May of 2010 with an MDiv. That’s got to be some kind of record, but one I never wanted. I was approved the United Methodist Church and commissioned at Annual Conference as a provisional Elder in June. I also referee soccer games for High School teams in the fall and recreation teams with Alex on weekends. You may be surprised to learn that with soccer and birthday money I bought a kayak which I use to paddle around on the Ohio River. I guess that’s one advantage of living so close to a river. If you choose to visit, we’ll borrow a friend’s kayak and paddle on the Ohio just like George Washington. (Well sort of.) Needless to say, church keeps me very busy.

Linette continues to work at her jewelry business, attends training and conferences. Last spring she worked in the church’s Learning Center as a teacher but in the fall gave that up for Bible Study Fellowship. We got Linette a Kindle for Mother’s day and she is never very far from it. She is reading constantly.

Rylan – Well what can I say? This year we must have watched Shrek, Shrek 2, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Muppet’s Treasure Island a least 100 times each. He loves those movies and after his bath we watch a movie before bed. His language skills are remarkable and he seems to brighten up every room with joy and smiles. Right now he loves anything that has to do with Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. Linette bought him tiny plastic figurines which he carries with him everywhere. Rylan attends the church’s Learning Center three days a week and Bible Study fellowship with Linette on Thursday. If you want to see all the phases of his growth and adventures I suggest you checkout the photos I’ve uploaded at: http://www.gedonfamily.shutterfly.com

We are all very thankful for our friends and family and for a healthy love filled year that was full of milestones and new chapters in our lives. What 2011 will be, God only knows but we are certain that the Best is Yet to Be. Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of us here in West Virginia.

Steve, Linette, Katelin, Abbie, Alex and Rylan

November 23, 2010

Bible Trivia

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:44 am by Steve

  1. How old was Moses when he died? A: He was 120 years old, according to the Bible (Deuteronomy 34:7).
  2. How tall was Goliath, the Philistine giant slain by David with a stone hurled from a sling? A: “Six cubits and a span,”
  3. What biblical Babylonian king cast Daniel into the lion’s den for praying to God in defiance of a royal decree? A: Darius the Mede (Book of Daniel, Chapter6).
  4. What is the longest name in the Bible? A: Mahershalalbashbaz, which is also written Maher-shalal-hash-baz. (Isaiah 8:1).
  5. In the Bible, which of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse rides a red horse? A: War (Book of Revelation).
  6. How many books of the Bible are named for women? A: Two – Ruth and Esther.
  7. What language is Jesus believed to have spoken? A: Aramaic — an ancient language in use on the north Arabian Peninsula at the time of Christ. A modern version of the language is spoken today in Syria and among Assyrians in Azerbaijan.
  8. In the Bible, for what “price” did Esau sell his birthright to his younger twin brother, Jacob? A: Pottage of lentils (Genesis 25:29-34).
  9. What did the lords of the philistines offer Delilah for revealing the secret of Samson’s strength? A: They promised the sum of 1,100 pieces of silver each, according to the Bible (Judges 16:5).
  10. In the Old Testament, who was Jezebel’s husband? A: Ahab, King of Israel (I Kings 16:28-31).

November 16, 2010

No Personal Relationship

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:32 pm by Steve

When we joined the church we make a sacred vow to live our lives by a certain set of values, to treat each other as disciples of Jesus and to work together for the good of all. Sounds pretty impressive doesn’t it? But how many take those vows seriously, take their word seriously or take their relationship with God seriously.

We make a commitment to submit our lives to the guidance and teaching of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit and with the aid of those Christ calls to leadership and ministry. We first connect to Christ and then with a new frame of reference and outlook we connect to others with an attitude of grace and gratitude. Granted, we don’t always model it perfectly, but we learn from our mistakes and from the example of others. But we must recognize our need to learn and grow. We’re not prefect – yet! As Christians we want to be more and more like Jesus every day.

So what were those things we commit to live and practice together?

  1. Prayer – a personal dialogue with God the Father through the intercession of the God the Spirit
  2. Worship – the natural response to our awareness and experience of God’s Extravagant Grace
  3. Giving – to give our heart and our treasures to God in Compelling Generosity
  4. Serving – to respond in practical ways to the needs of the world with grace and humility.

It is not at all uncommon, however, to bypass the personal connection with God that develops in parts 1&2 and move to the outward and visible signs in parts 3&4. We’re often more interested in what our friends see than in what God knows.

Paul addresses this disconnect in 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 John 4:12 “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:14: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

 

Re-Writing 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 We get a clearer picture of who God is and what we gain from a personal relationship.

“God is patient, God is kind. He is not envious, He does not boast, He is not proud. He does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Skip steps 1 & 2 in your personal relationship and you lose the passion, power and purpose of the Christian life.

November 2, 2010

My Problem with Delegation

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:08 am by Steve

Why is it so difficult?  And why are am I so bad at it?  Here are three very simple reasons…

Kent Fenwick writes:  I will confess that I find it hard to delegate and ask for help. Many times I take the “It’ll be better if I do it myself attitude.” Delegation is a habit and like all habits it takes practice and discipline to get it right. In fact, I think there are three dimensions to delegation that we have to master.

 

The first is knowing what you can delegate. There are some things that you cannot delegate. Going to the bathroom, eating, sleeping and your art. Your art is the thing that you do that no one else does, and hopefully you get paid for it. My art is being able to program and to take complicated business rules and requirements and boil them down to simple applications. Maybe your art is customer service, blogging, serving the best coffee you can etc. Once you know what you can’t delegate, everything else is fair game. Almost everything. I like to stick by the 2 minute David Allen rule defined in Getting Things Done. If the thing you are trying to do can be done by you in 2 minutes or less, do it and do it then and there. Otherwise, Delegate.

 

The second is knowing how to delegate. This is the actual act of delegation. Asking someone else to do something for you. This is also a skill/art that requires practice. In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey talks about stewardship delegation in contrast to gopher (go-for) delegation.

Stewardship delegations defines the rules of the game and the desired outcome but leaves the details to the delegated.

Gopher delegation is micromanagement at it’s worst. You define every step with so much detail you may as well do it yourself. The more trust you have in the people you are delegating to the more natural stewardship delegation becomes but it takes practice and trust. Don’t forget. Ps and Qs go a long way in this step.

 

The third is actually doing it. Putting on your shorts and shoes is great, but it will do you no good unless you go for a run. (Anne Fenwick Proverb)

You must take the plunge and start delegating! Play the WTWTCH (What’s the worst that can happen) Game. For example, when I used the acronym WTWTCH, I hoped you read the explanation and chuckled at the ridiculous use of an acronym in that situation. But maybe you didn’t. Maybe you think I’m an idiot and aren’t even reading this anymore. That’s about the worst that can happen. So I did it. Same goes for delegation.

Ask yourself What’s the worst that can happen?

Someone will say no.

Okay, then ask someone else.

Someone will do it wrong.

Yes, that’s true. However, use it as a chance to learn and get better at delegating. Did you define the task enough? Did you define it too much? Did you give the person any resources or recommendations that might have been helpful? Don’t assume right away that because it wasn’t done right it must be their fault. It’s likely partially or fully your fault.

There is much more to this article that I think you’ll really find beneficial today.  

October 18, 2010

Life-Giving Water

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:38 pm by Steve

“Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you!” John 7:37

 

We are told to do two things:

(1) Let him come to Me and (2) drink. They are connected.

  1. Jesus tells us to come to Him.

The biggest problem of Christianity is not that there are people fed up with Christianity but that many so-called people that supposedly come to Jesus are dead dry. They might sit in churches on Sunday morning but are dry as dead bones. They might hold a pew Bible. They might even carry one back and forth to church, but there is not one drop of living water in them.

We must not equate ‘coming to Jesus’ with attending a church service or going through a ceremony of baptism.  Of course there are people who have met Jesus there. But many find a church just because they want a religion that tells them that they are good people. A little pampering, and they are able to forget the thirsts of the soul. Jesus has countered every religion by showing us that we have absolutely nothing to bring before God but our sins and despair. If you can notice your heart needs, your sins will be nearby. If you can acknowledge your heartaches, you probably are very aware of your own sins. Our heart sufferings stem from our sins.

Let us return to what Jesus meant by ‘coming to Him.’ If you feel the Lord prodding your heart, then you should also be aware of Jesus’ presence. Jesus is here at this moment. You have heard correctly that He has died, but He has also risen. He is alive and as King of Kings presides over all through the Holy Spirit. He is seeking out His people. When He calls, you should listen and go to Him.

  1. And Drink

When we come to Jesus we are to drink from Christ. This might sound rather mystical. You really need to meet Jesus to know what He means. The point is that when you are so broken before Him, you have all these inner dry caverns deep in your soul that open up. The pains and superficiality of life has haunted you through the years but figured this was what life was supposed to be like.

How about your own soul? Can you sense someone prodding your heart? Don’t harden your heart. You might even hear words like, “You are no good” or “If people really knew what you were like, then they ….” This is the evil one trying to keep you dry. The truth is that we are desperate people and when you acknowledge that, then He comes to help. If you sense this prodding, just tell Jesus to speak and fill your soul’s thirst.

October 1, 2010

A Laughing Matter

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:50 pm by Steve

The church as an institution is all about management. How do we manage the future? As a consequence we get an elevated opinion of what we do verse who we are. I think Jesus wanted us to see ourselves from God’s perspective and perhaps have a good belly laugh at all we do and how important, prim and proper we think we are. I believe that if we could laugh at ourselves a bit more, we would have healthier relationship, better emotional, mental and physical health. ‘

But like our Pharisee ancestors we cling to social class structure and look down on people who think, look and act differently. Little do we realize the laugh is on us. God, on His throne, is getting a good belly laugh at our religiosity and the silly things we do.

 

Are you willing to laugh at yourself and help others laugh too?

 

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