Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Do We With Christmas?

What do we do with Christmas? That is the question that seems to be at the foremost of everyone’s mind. With an unstable economy, uncertain security for the future, and the flu season in full bloom things just don’t seem “merry and bright.” Some people have taken great offence of organizations using the word Holidays instead of Christmas. While I am not to sure what Jesus would think of a conflict over the verbiage of the time of year we celebrate his birth, it does seem we have missed something somewhere. This time of year is a time of love. We remember the magnitude of God’s love for us as illustrated in the birth of our child. (Our child in the since Jesus was divine but born from Mary, a human) We allow that love to transcend into our hearts and into our families. The unconditional love Christ illustrates to us gives us an example of the love we should model in our own homes and interactions with others. This time of year is about hope. A time when we focus on the hope found in the bridge that was gaped between our creator and us. The freedom to live our lives not confined or affected by what is displayed on network news channels but on the promise given to us by our Savior. We can live with the hope that broken relationship can be mended, faith in each other can be restored, and through God’s power tomorrow will be brighter. This time of year is about peace. We recall that Christ brought to earth a divine sense of peace. The arrival of the divine in our broken world brings us the gift of comfort, reassurance, and tranquility in our lives. We find harmony within ourselves as we realize Christ died for us, so that we may be forgiven and free. This time of year is about joy. A time we realize the gift we have been offered in Jesus Christ. The joy of Christ presence in our lives and in our faith community overcomes the stress, anxiety, and unresolved feelings this time of year can bring.
So what do we do with Christmas? Maybe we should share. Share the love, hope, peace and joy we have in our relationship with God and one another. Share what Christ is doing in your life with a friend, family member, or stranger. Share how Christ is transforming our faith community into an environment that healing, grace, love, and care. Tell them of our church that is a place where Christ is present and active in our lives. Be a witness to the birth or new beginning for us all. Forgive, love, enjoy and share Jesus with others through your words and actions. Maybe that’s how Jesus would like for us to do with Christmas.
Take care of yourself and one another.
Wishing you the best as you celebrate Jesus and we are looking forward to what Christ has in store for us in 2009.
Tommy, Kellie, Abby & Will Henegar

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Impossible! No Way! Won't Happen!

Impossible! No Way! Won’t Happen!
Have you ever struggled with the impossible? Have you ever looked at situations in your life and said, “Impossible! No way! Won’t happen!” Luke 1:26-38 is a story about the impossible. It is a story about the “no way” and the “won’t happen.” It is the story of the angel’s announcement to Mary. Think about the impossible situation Mary was in. Mary, a pregnant virgin, was going to birth a child and while still remain a virgin. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen! Joseph following through on the marriage even when he discovers she is pregnant. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen! Elizabeth conceives and gives birth to a child in her old age. Why, it is so impossible the news left old Zechariah speechless. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen!
The entire advent story is full of biblical impossibilities. But, what are the impossibilities in our world? What would you label “impossible” in your life? Peace in our world. Christian values returning to our nation, morality becoming the norm? Impossible! Our church reaching our community and making a difference in people lives? Impossible! Restoring relationships, healing past hurts in our lives; a relative or friend entering a relationship with Christ; breaking an addiction and overcoming past hurts and disappointments? Impossible! We often say through Christ all things are possible but are our actions reflected in our own rhetoric. Debts, doubts, worries, criticisms and indecisions many times guide our actions not our faith. Fear also seems to be precedence before joy. We must move through the fear for us to receive a divine joy, one that the world can not rob us from, and the joy God offers through Christ. We must believe in the impossible. We must believe with conviction that the same God that blessed Mary with the impossible will also do the same to us. How? Mary too asks, “How?” and the angel says, “by God’s power.” Not by her power, not by Joseph’s power, nor by the power of friends/family. It is not the power of nature or the power of luck, but by God’s power!



Monday, November 10, 2008

Reading was not my favorite activity as a child. I admit as a young boy, I was full of energy, excitement, and wonder and did not fully grasp the necessity to sit still and read. Life is full of irony and as a minister I spend most of my time reading. Scripture, books, research, journal articles, and magazines are the lifeline to my spirituality. Karl Barth the famous theologian extraordinaire said, "We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” He was saying there is a direct correlation between the living word of God and the world we live in. While diverse readings are inspiring, I have learned more about the realities of life by reading cartoons. Charlie Brown never kicks the football but never gives up and still forgives Lucy and always gives her another chance. Wile E Coyote never catches the roadrunner but never gives up although he always gets hurt. Shaggy and Scooby still venture off alone to seek truth and justice even though they are terribly frighten. Lucy will still give you her opinion even if you don’t give her five cents. Here are few more: Acme is not a reliable company; Scooby snacks must be delicious; and don’t let Charlie Brown pick out your Christmas Tree.

While cartoons may give us a comedic look on our humanity Jesus uses a parable. In Matthew 24:14-30, Jesus tells another parable about the kingdom of heaven. We recall it as the parable of the three servants. Two servants use what was given to them and brought prosperity to the owner. One servant out of fear buried his and was dealt with harshly. It seems to notify us that the Master expects his servants to be productive. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. It is almost impossible to have a health relationship with God and one another if we are not willing to put in the time and effort. God gives each of us gifts and graces and expects us to use them. God abhors indifference and attitudes of not worth trying. God does not expect more of us that we are capable of but He does expect all of us to use all our capabilities to the fullest. That is something we can’t get from cartoons.



Monday, October 27, 2008

I learned a valuable lesson this week from my extended family. Don’t discuss politics with the Henegar family. In an exchange of comments to one another about political issues, comments made in fun political banter were rebutted by mean hearted angry attacks. Something that started out so innocent as a joke and fun turned badly very quickly. I was also reminded if you win the argument but lose the relationship no one wins. When the rhetoric died down and cool minds prevailed we really agreed on most of the essential issues. We just disagreed on the path to get to the place we all want for our country. Communication is the key to any relationship. Constant communication is the value essential to any health relationship. We communicate in many diverse ways; with our speech, with our actions, with our lack of actions, with our works, emails and texting. If our communication with anyone is taken out of content or used as not our intent it is up to us to make corrections, apologize and bring clarity. This same principle is even greater in our communication of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was in constant communication with the early church about ministry. He sent words of encouragement, love, and support. He partnered with them in the essentials of our faith. Spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing we are to communicate as the church. It is the key component of any ministry. If the minister does not know someone is ill and needs a visit, pastoral care can not take place. If someone is in need of prayer and does not communicate that to others, prayers are not lifted up on their behalf. If there is confusion, it most always leads to frustrations. Our sole responsibility as Christians is we are required, called, requested, demanded, obligated and asked by God is to communicate His message of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace to anyone we meet. We must communicate freely and be a witness to Christ working in our lives. We must be open to trust God as we open up our true self to others. To share the gospel is to share our struggles and our success. Is there a risk in being hurt, taken disadvantage of, or being misunderstood? Yes, but without the risk God’s activities will not be communicated. Let us all join together to take up the challenge to communicate God’s activity in our lives and the lives of others. Tell someone what God has done in your life. We just can not afford to just wait for someone else to do it. Doing nothing is not an option for Christ’s church.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Run In With The Law

I got pulled over one day by the cops. Flashing blue lights in my rear view mirror, I in a daze of confusion pulled to the side. The officer approached and asked if I knew why I was being pulled over. “No Sir.” I replied nervously. “Do you know how fast you were driving?” he asked. “Yes sir, I was going 45 mph.” I said timidly. “Well, it is 45 about four miles back but it changes to 35 about ¼ of a mile back.” He informed me. “I am sorry sir, I had no idea I must have missed the sign.” I replied. I handed him my driver licenses, insurance information, and registration. He slowly returned to his car and after a long wait returned with what I presumed was a ticket. He proceed to give me a lecture about: ignorance of the law is not a legal defense or excuse, how I needed to pay more attention, and that since the fact I didn’t slow down when I passed him, I must not have known the correct speed limit. He then handed me a warning because my intent was to obey the law. Every time I traveled down that street, I was very conscious of my speed, I even told my friends about my run it with the cops, and reminded them that the speed limit changes from 45mph to 35 mph.
The religious leaders had derived 613 commandments from God out of the Pentateuch or the five books of the Law. Two hundred and forty-eight of them were prescriptive or things that God told them to do. Three hundred and sixty-five of them were prohibitive or things that God forbade them to do. Six hundred and thirteen laws in totality, each one of them carrying the truth of a divine imperative, each one of them are carrying the authority of a divinely appointed leader “Moses” each one of them having the historic sanction of religious tradition and the full endorsement of the faith community. That is too much for me to remember so Jesus broke it down to just two. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as your self. Sometimes it is easier to love others than love ourselves. Depression, low self esteem, insecurities, doubt, reservations, illness and mistrust all hinder us from truly loving ourselves. It can keep us from viewing ourselves as God created us. It robs us from our full potential as God’s children. Other times it is easier to love yourself than love others. Arrogance, pride, self gratification, selfishness, egotism, and even busyness can keep us distracted from loving others. It hinders our ability to love, serve, and help other children of Gods. Maybe the mission of the church is to help all of us to work on both: loving ourselves and others. This is not new news but a reminder, a warning of such, to slow down and recall Jesus’ two.
See you in church but until then love of yourself and one another.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Belongs to God?

The political campaigns are in full swing. The candidates are beginning that big push to the end. November 4th is in sight and advertising, debating, stumping is at full throttle. You can not go an hour without someone or something reminding or suggesting to you to whom to place your vote. The thing that is unsettling is the fact that each candidate uses fear and trust to win your vote. The basic ingredient in our decision to vote comes down to fear and trust. Do you trust this person? Do you fear your future if this person is elected? Through all the rhetoric this is the two core values we are looking for in the leaders of our government. Fear and trust seem to drive our decision and feelings of hope for the future. During this time we have also been bombarded by issues of the economy. Experts are all over the news media telling us how bad is it, how the future looks hideous, and we are in desperate times. We hear words like Bailout, tax plans, and economic relief. We are flooded with news of Acorn, voter fraud, and disenfranchised. Each story is again more innuendoes of trust and fear.
Jesus was confronted by the chief priest and Pharisee’s when asked should one pay taxes. Their intention was to trap him by this trick question. If Jesus said no he was in violation of the law. He could be arrested for treason against Caesar. If he said yes then he would be labeled as one who was loyal to government not God or the church. Jesus answer was simple and brilliant. He asked for a coin. Asked who picture was one it. And said if Caesar picture was on it, it must belong to him, so give back to Caesar what is his and give God what is God’s. So what do we have that is God’s? If money doesn’t matter to God, why is it so important issues in elections? Does God care who is president?
When I think about my personal inventory and search for things to give to God I have along list. I can give to God: my time, my talents, my joy, my devotion, my soul, my words, my actions, my compassion, my service, my grace, my identity, unity with others, my integrity, and last on my list my money. When I look at my list am I giving all I can to God. Not really, as I have much more to give. I give by giving the things on my list to others. When I begin to give to God what is God’s, I ironically find the things that are driving the campaigns. I begin to place my trust in God and God removes all fear from my life. I can trust that God will take care of me and my family, which removes fear from my future. I find hope, peace, and joy from my investment of God. I begin to value myself as God values me. What Belongs to God? All of ME…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Excuses to avoid A Wedding

Weddings are strange occasions. I have performed many weddings, attended many weddings, and honestly enough avoided many weddings. The wedding ceremony is intended to a beautiful worship experience, a time when love had called a couple to join together in the presence of God, and make vows to each other, and to God to love each other to the fullest. It is to be a joyous event for the whole community when two families are joined together. It is awesome when God is put first in the wedding ceremony.
But that is only in theory.
Here is the reality of most weddings: The parents of the couple are stressed out. Maybe it’s the cost, planning, or disagreements over control of the whole affair. The bride has had a dream of this day in her head her entire life. The groom rather attend a sporting event with his buddies. The wedding party usually is made up of friends of the bride and groom who owe them a favor. They are dresses up in outfits they would normally not pick out themselves. There is usually some kind of conflict of who actually will and who will not be in the wedding party. Most weddings determined by the look on the faces of the wedding party there is always one that looks like they would rather be anywhere else but there. The day of the wedding is stressful as the women work hard to look their best and the men work hard on entertaining themselves while they endure. Always one piece of clothing is usually left behind or no longer fits. One family is also concerned about that one family member who might show up. That one family member that usually has one too many and embarrasses all. As I perform each wedding and look out over those that are gathered I can actually hear what is going on in their minds. The women are critiquing the fashion, the decorations, and the flow of the service. They are comparing and contrasting it to every wedding they have attended, will attend or plan on their own. The men are just wondering how much long is this going to take and wondering what they are going to serve at the reception. Parents are both filled with joy and sadness. Joy that their children have found true love, sadness that they have grown up, moved on and matured. Sometimes the joy and sadness are reversed for exactly the same reasons. Weddings full of emotions, nervousness, and anxiety. No too are the same and they are no indications on the strength, happiness, or longevity of the couple relationship. Weddings are the weirdest events of human rituals and Jesus uses it to tells us a parable about the God’s kingdom.

Matthew places this story right after Jesus has thrown out the money changers in the temple. Jesus has gathered at the house of the richest Pharisee, with many people gathered round listening attentively to his every word. The parable is about a King who has a wedding reception for his son’s wedding. He invites the guest, they do not come. He sends the servants again to invite, the invitees kill the servants. In anger the King kills everyone and burns down the city. When everything is ready he sends his servants to the streets and invited anyone and everyone. The hall was filled the celebration under way. The King enters and notices one person is not dressed for the occasion. He instructs his servants to kick him out, and Jesus says, many are called but few are chosen. That’s a bummer of a wedding.
What was Jesus trying so hard to teach all that have heard this parable?
It seems to get more complicated as we look closer. Although the original invited guest were to merely just show up the second group were welcome but had somewhat higher expectations. Every guest off the street was welcome, but they were expected to be prepared, dressed, and changed for the banquet. In other words, there was an expectation of change from the time the new guests were picked off the street to the time they came into the presence of the king.
For us that seems strange in the context and customs of our weddings today. Remember in Jesus time weddings lasted weeks not hours. People were told about the wedding and invited on one visit. When everything was cooked, prepared, and ready to serve, they would be invited again to come. It was expected as guest to be ready to go, when the second invitation arrived.
It is clear that Jesus was speaking about the Pharisee’s as the first guest. Those that would reject him, murder him when He comes to invite them to salvation. But what concerns us are the second set of guest. That is us, you and I. We have been invited as Christian, I believe that God meets us wherever we are, and desires our presence in the kingdom no matter our pedigree or background. As a matter of fact, we had the phrase “come as you are leaved changed” as the invitation on everything we printed at our church. It was Christ invitation that we accepted everyone as they were; all they had to do was show up and plug in. If they showed up God would be the one to transform their life.
Come as we are. God wants us however we are.

But we all have excuses don’t we. We have many excuses on why we can not attend the banquet. I don’t have enough time. Church does not fit into my schedule. I am too tried on Sunday mornings or Wednesdays evening. I’m too old. I’m too young. You don’t offer anything for young people, old people, rich people, poor people, all churches want is your money, have you heard how bad the economy is? I be there next week, I have to get back into the habit? I have a new boyfriend or girlfriend and they are Catholic. People there are not friendly or welcoming. I work all week. The kids have soccer, baseball, basketball, softball, swimming. I don’t have the energy. My teens are really busy; they have a lot of things going on. Excuses, that what they are. Excuses, we all have them, creative of not. Jesus tells us we are invited and to invite others. When in the presence of the king, we should be changed. Yes, God wants us as we are imperfect sinners in an imperfect world. When we accept the invitation, however, there are some things that we need to change to prepare ourselves for God’s presence. We can all have excuses on not accepting the invitation of the king, or we can show up off the streets as we are prepared to be transformed, or we can give our excuses on how to avoid the wedding. Jesus gave no excuse to avoid that day on the cross. The choice is ours. Amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

From My Window

I once had an office on the second floor of the church. One spring day I noticed some leaves and branches sitting on the ledge of my window. Perplexed I was about to brush them off, when the next day I noticed a bird was building her nest. My first reaction was to destroy it. Remember I don’t like birds; I categorize them with weird clowns and Brussels sprouts. But something deep inside me told me to stop. I watched daily as she methodically built her nest and laid her eggs. Each day when I can in my office I would check on her. When it stormed I found myself wondering about her safety. When the wind blew hard, I worried if the babies were alright. I witnessed her feeding, tending, and taking care of the little babies until one day they were big enough to fly off on their own. I realized I got an up close seat to witness nature just as God intended. I was an observer of the balance miraculous circle of life that most people miss. It was an awesome thing to be a part of even if I was only a bystander. Long after the babies flew off and the mother left the nest, I kept the nest untouched on the ledge. As people would enter my office and notice this pile of leaves and sticks, all would suggest I needed to clean off my window. I realized that they did not get to witness what I saw. They only viewed the pile of trash. I was the only one that saw God’s creation and circle of life because I viewed it each day I was in my office. For me it was a reminder of God’s activity in all of life, everyone else saw a pile of trash.
I also have realized the same hold true in our church. I get the awesome privilege each day to see God working in the lives of people in our church. I get to hear statements like “what are YOU going to do” be transformed by the Holy Spirit into “what are WE going to do.” Most of Gods work goes unnoticed by most because they do not get to look out my window. I get the sacred opportunity to meet people at their bedside, homes, or my office, and hear their prayers. I catch sight of their pain, frustration, and struggles. I get to see God’s healing in lives of people but because of trust and confidentiality I can not speak about them. I get to experience how scripture can play a prophetic voice to sermons and things that happen around us. The way the Holy Spirit moves us, how God is transforming us, and how Christ is influencing the lives of people in our church are intangible facts or data. They are not numbers, or something we can add up to find a sum, an answer, or hard data. They are the reflection of Christ in the lives of us. I forget that most of the time most of the individuals of our faith community are not there on Sunday evenings to feel the energy of CYRCLE, hear the prayers and concerns of our Elders, work weekly with the Visioning ministry team, see kid’s playing soccer with FCC on their uniforms, or witness God’s physical healing on people. There are many more to list, but God is doing miracles in our community, the fire of the Holy Spirit is burning brighter, and Christ love is exhibit even if EVERYONE is not their to observe it themselves. All they see is a pile of trash on a window sill; I am reminded of God’s active in His creation, that’s something to think about.
Peace & Grace,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Drying Out

The more I experience self awareness and observe people the more I am convinced we live in a desert. I don’t mean a global warming issue, weather patterns, or melting ice caps, but a society that is drying up. The desert is a dry baron land that life is reduced to pure survival. Politicians running office shout the theme of change but revert to the same method of politics. Advertising bombards us with messages that we need products, services, and goods that make us fill better about ourselves. Economics experts give us not so beautiful scenery for the future. We are drying up on life, creativity, adventure, and hope. So where is God?

The desert has always provided a vital setting though out the Bible. The Israelites wondered in the desert before God brought them into the promise land. Jesus was taken to the desert by the Holy Spirit in order to be tempted by Satan. In the desert everyone is exposed, unprotected, and vulnerable. It is not a pleasant place to be. It causes every individual to be tested, battered, and pushed to the limit. Being in the desert exposes our true character and personality to all around us. While we are in the desert, we desperately need to feel and see the tangible evidence that God is with us. We need the reassurance that God has not forgotten about us. The Israelites were thirsty, complained to Moses, then to God. The desperately wanted the commodity of water to replace their thirsty. The commodity when delivered seems to replace their need for the presences of God. What commodities do we replace for the need of Gods presences in our lives? In our advertising it is the "commodity" that becomes the substitute for God and provides the answer, whether it is the answer to loneliness, depression, popularity, joy well being etc. Maybe we would not be drying out if we separated the commodity for the company of Christ in our lives. Christ tells us that when we drink from His water, our thirst is forever eliminated, and we will realize exactly the content of our character. That’s something to think about.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Forgetful Memory

I have come to the realization that I have a forgetful memory. It is not that uncommon really. I can recall in great detail experiences, moments, and situations that I have lived through in my life. I seem to forget the impact or the emotional impact on each event. It seems time erases memories from us. My memories of my younger athleticism do not perhaps match the reality of the impact of the player I was on the court. My band was almost certainly not as well-known as I want to remember. But that is fine. We as a society do the same. When we as a nation paused last week to remember the tragic events of 9-11, we quickly forget the outpouring of patriotism, unity, compassion, and a need to serve others. Same can be said of other such tragic events as the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and Katrina. As time passes we tend to misplace our focus and energy.

Sometimes we are tempted to live in the past and think that those good old days were better than anything that is going on now or anything that might come in the future. We tend to falsify the past. Not intentionally, but because of our human psyche. The Israelites had the same problem. When faced with the difficulty of passing through the desert after being freed they forgot what it was like to be in bondage. They even complained to God that they were better off. They boasted to God that they had more food and better food while being slaves. This was not true. But God listened to their pleas and granted them the food they requested. It is a reminder that God’s goodness, compassion, and ability to provide for us transcend in spite of our memory defects. We like to cling to what is familiar, comfortable, and predictable but that does not prepare us for the future. The promise land was only a promise, they had not seen, touched, or inhabited the land God was to give them. They were focused on what had been compared to what could be but did not pay attention to God’s activity in the now. Caught between two destinations, one known the other unknown, they didn’t take pleasure in God’s presence during the journey. While we find ourselves between destinations let us not neglect God in our midst. That is something we must not forget.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Father's Black Book

When my father passed away the hardest thing to do was to go through his keepsakes. Looking at the things that he had held on to and collected all his seventy two years of life, seemed almost like an intrusion. One of the things I found was his little black book. It was not full of old girlfriends but was filled with quick notes, sayings, and lists. He kept it when he was a young boy serving on the USS Franklin during WWII. His ship was attacked off the coast of Japan, which lead to the greatest fatality in naval history. While I can not imagine what he witnessed, felt, and lived through, this book gave me a clue. In the book was a list. One was titled: My Buddy List: which was a list of men’s names. Not one looked familiar to me. I assumed these were men my father battled for their life with, who were brave, courageous, and responded to each other in that horrific time. Then there was another list that read. My S#@T List: here was another list of men’s name that also was not familiar. This list I assumed were men who did not fall into my father’s good graces. I was happy that there were more names on the first list than the second.

But why did he keep a list? Maybe in the time of crisis, he wanted to record in a hasty way those who acted bravely so he could show his gratitude later or just recorded it in case he did not survive. He wanted to leave something that would record their acts of kindness.

In a way we keep a conscious list in our minds. We can recall with freshness everyone in our lives that have touched us, made us better, showed us kindness, and invested in our lives. Those people who really showed Christ love to us. We might not have known at the time, but they positively influenced us for a lifetime. Then we have another list, those people who have angered us, messed us over, did us wrong. We can quickly recall every one who has hurt us, caused us pain, or embarrassed us. We hold on tightly to both.

Jesus tells us that we are to not keep track of the times we are to forgive someone. He touches on the fact that our souls are cleansed when we forgive. It is not about the other person's well being but ours. Are you willing to forgive those of your past? See what Jesus tells us about the two lists. When you meet someone in crisis, which list will your name be on? Don’t wait until tomorrow to forgive or act to help someone in need. Forgiveness makes us whole and complete people as we are no longer bond by anger. Make a difference in someone’s life. I’m glad our lord does not keep such lists.

Go make a positive influence on someone’s life.



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where Do You Fit In.

Romans 12:1-8
Tears, words of frustrations, confusion, a since of betrayal, feelings of wanting to return back to the way it use to be, anger, self- doubt, nervousness, anxiety, a sense of abandonment, that awkward feeling of not know what to say, trying to be supportive but only making things worse, a longing and deep desire to just return to the ways things once were. That was the climate around the house the last week or so. All of which revolved around the first day of school. Not just the first day back after the summer break, but the first day in a NEW school. A school where everything is different, not one familiar voice, familiar face, or even familiar surroundings, nothing is like you imagined. We as adults forget, that it can be a traumatic and scary thing, to start a new school.
Parenting is not easy. Especially when you see your kids hurting or anxious and there is nothing really you can do about it. I wished I would have had some vocational tech training classes or something before I had kids. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been a whole lot less trouble to my parents, I promise. It’s tough. Life is tough. While parenting is full of many great rewards, it still is a tough job.
During the week I was hit with the line: “You have no idea how I feel.” Spoken so true. We really don’t have an idea what another person feels. I can sympathize though. At fourteen years old, I went form a very small, very expensive private school that I attended for seven years, to a very large, predominately African American public school. I was transposed from a place where I was popular, well liked, and very comfortable to something so different. I literally felt like I had walked out of one world on to another planet. So I could in a small way remember that uneasiness, sick feeling you have in your stomach that first day. I also had the past experience of knowing that I could find true friends in both worlds. The key was just being myself, not letting race, social classes, backgrounds, family structure, religion or anything else stand in the way of forging new friendships. These new friendships that would last a lifetime shaped me into a better person. Before I could find my place in the new environment, I had to know exactly who I was and where I fit in.

That is exactly what Paul is writing to us this morning. The church in Rome was a new group of Christians. They were trying desperately to figure out just who Jesus Christ was. They were learning what it was like to live as Jesus’ disciples. To live a life of faith. They desperately wanted to be faithful but really just didn’t know how. Paul had the task of not only shaping their theology but also their attitudes towards one another. The church was made up of folks who did not necessarily all socialize together. They were made up of folks from every part of town. The only thing that brought them together was the common bond of Christ love. It is easy to explain to others who Christ is, but harder to explain just how the church works and functions.

Paul uses the analogy of the church being the body of Christ. It is one body, but has many different parts. Each part is vital to the overall health and well being of the whole. Each part has a vital function, which no other part can perform. With the church being the true object in the equation, let us examine it further. Suppose you have a terrible sore throat, it causes great pain when you swallow. Now the heart doesn’t say to the throat, “it is your problem, I am beating just fine.” The lungs don’t say, “a sore throat doesn’t affect me, I providing all the oxygen to everyone, so talk to the brain.” Now the throat because of great pain can not function properly. It directly affects the food that is consumed. The throat pain affects the brain and the emotional effects of the body. The way we interact with others when we are well and when we are sick are drastically different. Less food means less energy. Less fuel or energy to our cellular system that fights disease. This affects our entire immune system. If the throat goes on untreated, you can see how the entire body is affected. Each vital organ knows its own specific function and it place in the entire body function. If the throat refused to work, it directly affects the heart, lungs, all the way down to a singular cell.

This is clear when we think of our church as untied as one body. Christ’s’ body. God has given each of us some unique and powerful gift. God intended on us to use it in the overall function of the church. Paul reminds us that the gifts given to us by God are not of our own. They are a gift, which means no gift is greater or more important than the next gift. While we might feel we are not valued or posses Godly gifts, we do. Each gift is vital for the overall function of the entire body. You are vital for the overall function of Christ’s body. You are responsible for the health and welfare of Christ’s church. If we don’t use our gifts we loose them, or they become nonfunctional.

It is also an unselfish gift. The body was not designed for one organ to do it all. Paul reminds us that each person only posses one or two gifts. It is the collaboration of these diverse gifts that make it work. This time of discernment we are experiencing should help us all clarify exactly where we fit in. We are reminded that if we are one member of a larger body, so are the other churches in our area. We must rejoice in their effectiveness on the lives of others, simply because they are a part of the same body, Christ’s body.
So let us continue to discovering where we fit in God’s plan. In prayer, we will hear Christ words of instructions. In worship we will recognize that the gifts and blessing we hold are uniquely given to us by our Lord. In studying God’s word, we will find clarity in the function of our congregation. In service to others, we will experience the affects we have on the lives of others. And through it all, while it will be tough, we will know exactly where to fit in.

Tears, words of frustrations, confusion, a since of betrayal, feelings of wanting to return back to the way it use to be, anger, self- doubt, nervousness, anxiety, a sense of abandonment, that awkward feeling of not know what to say, trying to be supportive but only making things worse, a longing and deep desire to just return to the ways things once were. Through it all Christ love will bind us together forever. Amen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I stared at the blinking cursor what seemed like hours, recalling my life and the illustration I would use for this scripture and sermon. I had what was the opposite of writers block. There were just too many. Countless of times I had been terrified by life, knocked down by the winds of change, and beat up by the rocking of the stress in my life and Jesus was there to rescue me. I recalled by training as a lifeguard and how they stressed the most important thing is to hold on tight to your victim, let them know you where in charge, because if they feel secure and safe they will not fight you. They will relax and allow you to pull them to safety. Jesus has been there and done that to me. Just at that moment when I was scared, tired, and ready to given it, I found myself secure in those whom Jesus sent to save me. Pulled me out of the water, dried me off, warmed by chilling body, and sent me on my way. I am sure some of us here this morning can identify without having to share the details or specifics of our life. We all share in the fact that somewhere, somehow, through someone Christ was there for us. So for many reason this is one of my favorite stories of Jesus.

Jesus had feed the thousands, preached all day in the hot sun, retreated to a quite place to pray. He had sent the disciples on ahead in the boat. Each gospel tells this story with different details but the facts were the same. The wind picks up. If you have ever been in a boat, when the wind or a storm picks up, you realize in an instant you really have no control. You are at the mercy of nature. The next fact was these fishermen, the guys that make a living on the seas, were scared. They knew exactly how dangerous the situation was. Then they spot Jesus. But at first they think he is a ghost and are scared. The scripture tells us of their fear, but we are not sure what they are exactly afraid of. Are they afraid that Jesus is an evil spirit? In those days, people believed that the evil spirits and demons lived under the seas. Were they afraid that Jesus was going to drown? They were going to watch their friend perish in the water. Or were they afraid that Jesus possessed a power greater than the nature order of our world. A human being can not walk on water. The reasoning behind their fear is so unimportant because each of us have different fears, don’t we.
Peter calls out. Jesus answers, “take courage, it is I, don’t be afraid.”
Peter tests Jesus. “If it is you, tell me to come to you.”
Jesus says, “Come.” And Peter did.

Here where it becomes tricky. Peter follows Jesus request. Jesus did not forced Peter out of the boat. Peter out of love, devotion, commitment, forgets his own situation or fear and follows Jesus. Peter totally forgets his own fear, and focuses on Jesus. Did I say, Peter takes his focus off of his own situation, his own predicament, his own fear, his own self and focuses on Jesus’ instructions? Peter risks it all when he placed his foot from the rocking but secure solid bottom of the boat on to water. When Peter’s attention, focus, and concentration was on our Savior, he walked on water. But the second, moment, blink of an eye he took his attention away form Jesus, Peter began to sink like a rock. (All pun intended as Peters name was changed to Rock) Remember normal people do not walk or water of defy the laws of nature.

Now that is the lesson in it’s self. That no matter what the winds of life throw at us, if we keep our attention fixed upon our Savior Jesus Christ, things will work out. I think we can all agree on that fact but if we really look at this story it is more that Peter’s water aerobics.
Peter had the ability to suppress his fear enough to follow Jesus directions. Peter had the confidence, love, respect, devotion, courage, and craziness to do exactly what Jesus called him to do. He did not rationalize it. He did not call a meeting of the rest of the group, make a motion, look at a budget, and take a vote or a poll to see what the rest group wanted to do or waited until things calmed down a little. He just heard Jesus’ voice and did it. He reacted out of his love and devotion to God. He risked it all, his future, his own personal safety, and his position in the group to follow Jesus’ voice. It was Peter that took that chance, the one whom Jesus would use to build the church. As the church that again is another lesson to us all.

But that’s not all.
When Peter risked it all, when he followed Jesus voice, stepped out of that boat something bigger happened that often gets overlooked. As the wind rushed violently against the boat, in the midst of the storm when everything was chaotic, when fear was the theme of the hour, when Peter stepped out, he received the greatest reward of all. Something the others would never get to experience. For a brief moment, Peter got to feel what it was like to live in Jesus world. When he risked it all and got out of that boat, he stepped in to heaven. He felt was it was like to live in the Holy place where God reigns, the place where our environmental laws of nature do not apply. Because of his risk, because of Jesus’ love for Peter, Peter got to experience what it was like in Jesus’ realm. Peter got a small taste of God’s blessings and ultimate glory. Those who stayed in the boat, only got to watch from the sidelines, but Peter got to live it. He got to feel it, taste it, understand it, and personally experience it. Those that stayed in the boat only witnessed it, which was also important.

When Jesus and Peter returned to the boat, the fear was gone. The storm was over, the uncertainly had subsided, and they worshipped Jesus. They sang praises to God for His goodness, his holiness, for saving them from the whatever. They told of their witness and worshipped exactly who Jesus was, “The son of God.” I can only imagine what the rest of that trip was like. I am sure it was full of laughter, praise, joy, excitement, and enthusiasm without the slightest inclination of fear. I know they now felt secure and safe, ready to do whatever Jesus asked of them.

I am not sure exactly where you place yourself in this story. We all need people like Peter to risk it all, to step out of the comfort zone, to risk it all for Jesus. The rational thing to do in times of fear, uncertainty, and chaos is to hang on tight to the boat. The boat is the object of security in this story, isn’t it? When on water, the only thing that floats well is a boat, especially during high winds. I know if I am drowning in a storm and I am cold, sacred, tired, feeling alone and abandoned the first and only thing I want to see is a boat. But Jesus says if you truly love me, if you are committed to me and my ministry, if you want to experience something more that just survival, if you hear my voice, get out of that boat, there is where you will experience the full capacity of my love for you. I want to stay where I’m at, Jesus says get out of that boat! Where are you?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I have shameful admitted that I grew up a wrestling fan and my childhood dream was to entertain people by putting on spandex tights and entering into the squared circle. (That is the ring for you non wrestling fans out there)

When ever things got serious, when a story line of a feud was over, you must end in it very dramatic fashion. It almost always ended in a Main event, - last match of the night- No DQ- no disqualification, anything goes, Cage match- revenge without outside interference. Nine out of ten times the good guy would get his revenge on the villain or bad guy. Every fans frustration that had been built up for months would come to an end in that one last match.

While this Main Event, No DQ, cage match was set something different happened. Jacob was caught in the middle. He was caught between his brother and twin Esau. Remember Esau the brother from which Jacob scamming with his mother stole his birthright. On the other side was Laban whom Jacob had pretty much had stolen his wife. And our evil villain Jacob was caught in the middle. He was going to get what was due. Caught like a deer in the headlights. Not knowing what to do, Jacob sends gifts to his brother and plans his escape route. This is so good I couldn't’t make this stuff up, drama, revenge, restitution, climatic, suspenseful and violence all about to be unleashed.

Just as Jacob starts his escape, the bell rings and the fight is on. But his opponent is not Esau or Laban, it is an angel.. It read an fighting angel, not a fighting ninja. Let me pause of a moment here. While we would like to think of angels as: dainty figures we place on cute figurines, angelic voice who sing to us or caregiver in time of need. The Bible gives us a witness that is not so dainty. In Genesis 18, three angels eat enough of forty men. In the New Testament angels routinely scare the living daylights out of people, including the toughest of Roman guards. And in this passage the angel is more than a match for rugged Jacob, a man who has proven he can hold his own in the worst of situations. Rather than picture angels as perfumed, saintly, light- on – their –feet haloed ballerina, we might do better and thinking of them as pumped up, steroids taken, nightclub bouncers, roughnecks, or where I come from rednecks. Guys with one name like Mack, Bulldog, or Bubba.

Either the case angels are God professional movers. They never leave a scene without have changed people, moving them form here to there, from one way of looking at the world to another. Your life is moving in one direction; you encounter an angel, and before you know if you are heading in a completely different way. This angel as he prepares to fight Jacob did not disappoint.

This angel brings all he has to this fight with Jacob. He has too. Jacob was on his way to success, on the fast tract to be king and nothing was going to get in his way. His birth order didn’t. Jacob’s brother didn’t. His father didn’t. His twisted uncle Laban didn’t. So far, Jacob has always grabbed or finessed his way of achieving his goals. At this point in his life he has hit his stride, and he is only going up from here. He had mapped out everything except Jacob did not plan on the encounter with the angel.

In my life I have found two spiritual truths to be true. One is when I feel down, defeated, beat up, bruised, worn out, stressed, and anxious in my spiritual life, God always without fail sends me a situation that picks me up, dust me off, and helps me back on my way. I become stronger, more focused, re energized, and useful. The second is just the opposite. When I feel it is me: I’m the one doing great things, I am the one doing great ministry, I am the one healing, helping, and achieving greatness. God sends me a situation that reminds me, that it ain’t me. It is those times of humility; God knocks me down off my high horse and reminds me that He is the one in control.

In Jacob’s case, the force was of the down to earth variety. An angel wrestles with this can do, win at all cost guy who is at the top of his game and hobbles irreversibly his winning stride. No one looks tough limping on a bad hip. By the end of the encounter, Jacob is mud-drenched, limping, and branded with a new name that could almost certain cause playground teasing: Israel, which translates :one who struggles with God or one who tries hard with God, one who strives with God.

The key to this story is not that Jacob got beat. But that Jacob did not give up. He refused to give in until he received God’s blessing. In many ways, to be part of a faith community is to choose a life of extending the history of Israel, a history struggling with God. It is to choose a life in which we raise questions, wrestle with doubts, with trust, with lifestyles, and with sacrifices called for by our love and compassion for God and another.

We here at FCC have asked that each of you spend forty days, just forty days in prayer, study, worship and service. During this time if there are not aspects of God that scare you just a little then you must have skipped some pages in the Bible. The tricking part is to trust. To trust in God whose blessings are such that they sometimes leave our hip out of socket. There will be times when the journey of faith involves wrestling with God- unanswered questions, unresolved dilemmas, unlit valleys, irreconcilable differences. I tell you this not to discourage you but to let you clearly see the reality that awaits us. In such times, the only hope we have is to cling to God. We must only cling to God because the alternative is to cling to nothing. To do nothing, hold on to the day when one person is left to turn out the lights and close the doors. “I will not let you go” says Jacob, ether from sheer panic or steel resolve we can’t be sure- “unless you bless me.”

And so the angle does. That is what we call the good news. The mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, with the power to wound but also to heal, blessed Jacob, Israel, the one who struggles with God.

There in lies our promise: there will be struggle in our walk with God- dark nights, confusion, feelings forsaken- but there will also be blessing. From the struggle it self emerges a new way of defining blessing and a new way of living: Blessings are not always polished and poised, sweetness and light. In remembering our Savior Jesus Christ sometimes blessings bear the scars of a struggle and walk with a distinguishable limp.
Take are of your self and one another,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

But what about tomorrow...

If you are like me, tomorrow is the best day to start something new. In our church, it is easier to start things later rather than now. When I look down at my belly getting bigger and my pants getting smaller.. Tomorrow is the best time to start the diet. This is reinforced as I pull into Dairy Queen for a large blizzard. I'll wait until tomorrow to cut the grass. One thing we count on in our conscious is that there will always be tomorrow.
This happens all to often in our personal relationships with other individuals as well. Tomorrow we'll spend quality time with each other. Tomorrow we will have that romantic get away we talk about exhausted each night when we crawl into bed. I'll take you fishing tomorrow son, I promise. I'll teach you to play the guitar, we'll start tomorrow. I'll call my sick friend tomorrow, he's probably tired today, it's getting late. It really should be a disorder or disease, I'll Do It Tomorrow-IDIT.
This carries over into our spiritual life as well. We want a closer relationship with God but we want to wait to tomorrow to start. If we were striving and wanted/ needed something to make the pain in our empty stomachs go away, we would say, "I'll eat tomorrow." I desperate want to spend more time in prayer, study, and in relationship with God but I'm busy. I look and see Christ sitting patiently in the corner for me to spend time with him. He waits.. not out to guilt me but out of a love that grants me an undying peace and joy. I struggle to not put off to tomorrow. That is how evil really works, not overtly but stealthy, until I realize tomorrow might not be there. To those I love, I hope I have showed it today. For those who have done me wrong, forgiveness comes today. I hope today is the day I spend time with my Savior who waits for me. Joy, peace, love, hope, romance, forgiveness, excitement, and resurrection begin today, as I try to live with no tomorrows.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Welcome to Fat Daddy Ministries Blog..
Fat Daddy Ministries is founded and directed by Rev Thomas J Henegar (better known as Fat Daddy). This blog is intended for those to post questions about life, religion, church and relationships. The vision of Fat Daddy Ministries is to help all understand the relevance of Christ in today's society. It is not to sway, brainwash, or convince you of only one political or social point of view. It is to discuss openly and freely the relevant problems to life today as we know it.
Who is Fat Daddy?
Fat Daddy is Rev Thomas (Tommy) J Henegar. The named came for the nickname given to him by the youth of Kingsway Christian Church when he served as Youth Minister. A loving term that seemed to stick with him through out his ministry. Rev Henegar is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) he is presently serving First Christian Church Centralia. After a failed attempted at a career in music and before being called into the ministry full time, Rev Henegar worked as a counselor with troubled youth in the Memphis Tn area. He has served at Kingsway Christian Church and as the pastor/developer of Crossroads Christian Church. More importantly, Fat Daddy is married to a wonderful wife of 15 years, Kellie (aka Sexy Momma)with two awesome children, Abby & Will. In his spare time, Fat Daddy likes to ride his Harley,(plug) play his Martin and Pearl (plug) , and work out at the Body Shoppe in Centralia. (big Plug) Fat Daddy is a graduate of Overton High School in Memphis TN, the University of Memphis (go tigers go) and Memphis Theological Seminary.

Disclaimer: Fat Daddy Ministries is a ministry of Rev Thomas J Henegar and his own personal view at the world and while similarities may exist, it does NOT reflect the views, opinions, or ideas of FCC or any churches He has served in the past.