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

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