Aug 26, 2016

School is Now Upon Us!


As I pondered the beginning of a new school year, I remembered this fine story of a wonderful professor which ought to inspire all of us:

In 1947, a professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Chandrasekhar, was scheduled to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. At the time, he was living in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes astronomical observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, although it would be held during the harsh winter months.

Registration for the seminar, however, fell far below expectations. Only two students signed up for the class. People expected Dr. Chandrasekhar to cancel, lest he waste his time. But for the sake of two students, he taught the class, commuting 100 miles round trip through backcountry roads in the dead of winter.
        
His students, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, did their homework. Ten years later, in 1957, they both won the Nobel Prize for physics. So did Dr. Chandrasekhar in 1983.
        
For effective teachers, there is no such thing as a small class.

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Aug 19, 2016

“Sometimes, there just aren't enough rocks”


There is a heart-rending scene in the movie, “Forrest Gump,” based on the novel by Winston Groom. Jenny, the childhood girlfriend of the mentally challenged Forrest Gump, has come home from one of her many self-destructive prodigal escapades. She and Forrest go to the abandoned home place where she lived out her tragic years as a child. The sight of the house brings back to Jenny an overwhelming tide of the tragedy and pain she experienced there.

All of these repressed memories rush in on her, and she loses it, and storms toward the house screaming and throwing things. She throws her shoes, clods of dirt, and all the rocks she can find. When there are no more rocks to throw, she falls exhausted and sobbing to the ground. After an awesome stillness and a silence, Forrest Gump moves lovingly toward her, and as he lifts her up says: “Jenny, sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks!”

We each have a variety of things from which we pray healing and sometimes we feel as if we do not have enough prayers to throw. Yet Wesley talked often of God’s “prevenient grace” which is the grace that runs ahead of us and meets us at our point of need. This is indeed something to be thankful for!


PS. Don’t forget our Blood Drive this Sunday the 21st of August from 9:00 am-1:00 pm.



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Aug 12, 2016

Hope for a Better Past


My friend, who at times appears in my blog, wrote something worthy of our pondering these searing days in August. Tom Butts, pastor emeritus of FUMC Monroeville AL, wrote “Hope for a Better Past” on June 10, 2010 and I share it here with you:

One of the basic lessons of life, which some people never learn, is to let go of the hope for a better past. In spite of the obvious futility of this effort, we see people wasting years of their lives hoping to change the past. While it is true that we are shaped by our past, we cannot change it. It is not going to improve. But we are more than our past. We are more than the voices and experiences from behind us. We can have total control of our attitude and a modicum of control over the events of today and tomorrow, but we have no control over yesterday. 

Some 70 years ago a Russian writer by the name of P.D. Ouspensky wrote a novel entitled The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin. It is the story of a man who wanted to amend his mistakes by living his life over again. “If only I could get back all the chances which life offered me and which I threw away,” he said. “If only I could do things differently.”

Ivan visits a magician who reluctantly and magically gives him the chance to live his life over again, but warns him that nothing will be different. Ivan watches his life like a screen play. As he watches the repetition of the life he so desperately wants to amend, he sees himself helplessly reliving the bitter failure of his school days, the sweetness of early life, and the reckless experiments of his particular temperament. The second time around he does the same absurd things, right down to the smallest detail.

Ivan desperately pleads, “What am I to do?!” The magician said to him: “Remember, if you go back as blind as you are now, you will do the same things over again. Repetition is inevitable unless you first change yourself.”

 Ivan Osokin is no stranger to me. I have been seeing him/her two or three times a week for 70 years. He was here last week. Some days I look in the mirror and see him. The Ivan in me and in the "Ivanisky" people I see every week are continually doing the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result. And, it never happens. What is it in us that make us buy into that same illusion over and over again?! It is as if we are haunted by something that is not there.

The possibility for a better future begins when we let go of the hope for a better past.



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Aug 5, 2016

Youth Sunday, August 7


We have a lot for which to be thankful in our church. One of the many things is our youth—both the young people and their leaders. These folks work tirelessly to do mission and education for our community’s youth and not just our own youth. I’m certain we will all be very proud of these young folks who will deeply meaningful messages to our worship services this Sunday morning. By way of encouragement to them and inspiration to you, I suggest this is a Sunday you will not want to miss! The speaker will be great; the readers will be great; and the music will be great. In short, the whole thing will be great. 

It is easy to overlook the youth in our community. Many adults foster Saul’s attitude when he said to David, who was ready to fight Goliath, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy” (1 Samuel 17:33). Our youth might have given old Saul something to think about!

As we wait for the hot summer months to wind down and prepare for those people who will trickle back to worship, I see some wonderful ways for folks to become involved in ministry and service in the name of the Lord. My prayer for the church is that what we do be understood as the best we have to offer to God and to each other. Taking a hint from Paul, whether or not you are young—or simply feel young: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). May we all strive to let God’s love motivate our life and hearts together at FUMC, Arlington Texas.

Our 8:15, 9:30 & 11:00 Sanctuary services will be led by youth this Sunday, August 7.

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Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Jul 29, 2016

Spending Time With the Master


Our primary Gospel this liturgical year (Year C) is Luke. From time to time we are allowed to witness some of the marvelous aspects of this special Gospel. My friend, Guy Ames, a retired DS from OK, relates the following story that pertains to last week’s lesson from Luke on Mary and Martha:

Years ago, as I traveled through Nepal, I had an opportunity to drive up into the Himalayas early one morning to watch the sun rise. Our tour had been long and I was tired and feeling sick, so the morning of the early tour I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep. I’ve always regretted that decision. I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the sun rise over the highest mountain range in the world, and I passed it up because I was sleepy. Mary wouldn’t pass up the most important thing: spending time with the Master.

I wonder what would happen to the church if we placed as much importance on spending time with the Master as Mary did. I wonder what would happen to committees and classes and teams and ministry if we sought to spend as much time in listening prayer and hearing the words of Christ as we do in getting the job done (Guy Ames—adapted from The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2007).

Maybe Luke’s Jesus reminds us that we each need balance between action/reflection.


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* As a special note I would ask our congregation to be in prayer for our “Graduated Seniors” who will be on their Senior Retreat July 27-30. If you have questions about this gathering of our great high school class of 2016, please call or email Brittany Wright at bwright@arlingtonmethodist.org or 817-274-2571.

Jul 22, 2016

What is Life Worth?


A variation of the following story appears in Anthony De Mello’s little book called The Song of the Bird.

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the fisherperson.

“Well, then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The fisherperson explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

“How long would that take” asked the fisherperson?

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American. “And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”—

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take siestas with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

            “What do you think I am doing now?”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*As a special note I would ask our congregation to be in prayer for our Special Needs VBS which will be from July 24-26 and our VBS for PreK-6th grade July 25-29. We are blessed with wonderful volunteers and you too can join the fun by calling the church office or registering online at arlingtonmethodist.org/Summer

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Go—Serve

Jul 15, 2016

Are We like the ‘The Pretty Good Samaritans?’

Sunday last, I shared a story that Tim Hansel tells, which may help us understand Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable:   
One semester, a seminary professor set up his preaching class in an unusual way. He scheduled his students to preach on the Parable of the Good Samaritan and on the day of the class, he choreographed his experiment so that each student would go, one at a time, from one classroom to another where he or she would preach a sermon. The professor gave some students ten minutes to go from one room to the other; to others he allowed less time, forcing them to rush in order to meet the schedule. Each student, one at a time, had to walk down a certain corridor and pass by a bum, who was deliberately planted there, obviously in need of some sort of aid.

The results were surprising, and offered a powerful lesson to them. The percentage of those good men and women who stopped to help was extremely low, especially for those who were under the pressure of a shorter time period. The tighter the schedule, the fewer were those who stopped to help the indigent man. When the professor revealed his experiment, you can imagine the impact on that class of future spiritual leaders. Rushing to preach a sermon on The Good Samaritan they had walked past the beggar at the heart of the parable. We must have eyes to see as well as hands to help, or we may never help at all.

What might we have done if chanced with a similar circumstance?

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