Monday, September 14, 2009

What If I fail...

Fear of failure can cause each of us to be frozen in time. Each of us carry in our vivid memory of times, situation, and circumstances when we have failed at something, messed things up, or really goofed. Successes, accomplishments, or goals completed can not erase those mistakes we have made. Doesn’t really matter our intentions, we have all at sometime in our lives failed. Our failure or fear of failure can keep us from trying again or acting. The damage of a bad relationship can hinder us from loving or trusting another person. Negative words about a dish we have cooked and created can cause us to never make it again. Pain from an injury can cause us to never play the sport again, even if we are physically able. The concept is universal as it makes no difference if we are talking about our relationships, finances, business decisions, health, hobbies, or vocation; we have all failed at least once. We have all sinned and we all keep track of those failures and sins.
So how does God through Jesus Christ set us free of our failures? Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. He gave us a pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it's now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

“The What Ifs?”

When we are full of fear, a million questions pop up, what if this happens, what if that happens, what is going to happen to me when I don’t have much hope for the future. Our society in which we live is ever changing. The hope for the future seems to be dwindling each and every day with each news report. Security is an uncommon commodity in the times in which we exist. It is in times like these we desperately need to turn to God for hope.
This Sunday we will begin a new sermon series on the “What If’s.” We will explore the “What if’s” of our: future, commitment, failure, God, and death. We will seek God’s guidance as we explore what if the future is not what we intended. We will seek a deeper understanding of what if I fail. We will discover spiritual direction as we ask what if I can not commit. We will worship God and search for reasoning if we ask: what if I fear God. As we worship as a faith community we will end our series address the fear in what if I die.
A sermon series provides a tremendous opportunity for us to turn to God in times of fear. It provides for us an avenue for our faith to become relevant in the life we live each and every day. This series opens an avenue to invite someone to share in this awesome experience. Even if you know they attend another congregation regularly, invite them to join you for one service or the entire series. It will provide healing for them if you know they are struggling on one of the “what if’s” we are addressing. They can then return to their home congregation with a clear sense of renewed hope. This series gives an occasion for God to restore hope into their lives. Give someone you know a call and invite them to join us as together, in the presences of God, as we explore the “what if’s” in our lives. Call, drop a note, or email to friends, family, neighbors and strangers as we tackle “the what if’s”.

Until we meet again, take care of yourself and one another..



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Please Be Informed

We as Amercian all agree that something needs to be done for better Health Care for all God's children. Please read so you can be fully informed. This is a letter written by Dr. Stephen Fraser to Senator Bayh. If you would like to send it on to your Congressman, he says to feel free to copy it and send it around to our friends and to senators and representatives."

July 23, 2009

Senator Bayh,

As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the healthcare bill before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government's proposed involvement in the patient physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a healthcare system that works for all.. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our healthcare system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed.

I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens.

Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self insure!!

Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!

Page 42 of HC Bill: The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. You have no choice!

Page 50 Section 152 in HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise

Page 58 HC Bill: Govt will have real-time access to individuals finances & a National ID Healthcard will be issued!

Page 59 HC Bill lines 21-24: Govt will have direct access to you ur banks accounts for elective funds transfer.

Page 65 Sec 164: is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community organizations: (ACORN).

Page 84 Sec 203 HC bill: Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange.

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!

Page 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill: Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation: illegal aliens.

Page 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18: The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan.

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans. AARP members - your Health care WILL be rationed.

Page 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill: Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice.

Page 124 lines 24-25 HC: No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly.

Page 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill: Doctors/ American Medical Association - The Govt will tell YOU what you can make! (salary)

Page 145 Line 15-17: An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. NO CHOICE!

Page 126 Lines 22-25: Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families.

Page 149 Lines 16-24: ANY Employer with payroll 401k & above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.

Page 150 Lines 9-13: Business's with payroll btw 251k & 401k who doesn't provide public option pays 2-6% tax on all payroll.

Page 167 Lines 18-23: ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Page 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill: Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay)

Page 195 HC Bill: Officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans finances /personal records.

Page 203 Line 14-15 HC: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" Yes, it says that!

Page 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill: Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid Seniors, low income and poor are affected.

Page 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill: Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same!

Page 253 Line 10-18: Govt sets value of Doctor's time, proffession, judgment etc. Literally value of humans.

Page 265 Sec 1131: Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries.

Page 268 Sec 1141: Federal Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs.

Page 272 SEC. 1145: TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151: The Govt will penalize hospitals for whatever Govt deems preventable re-admissions.

Page 298 Lines 9-11: Doctors, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission -Govt will penalize you.

Page 317 L 13-20: PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Doctors what/how much they can own!

Page 317-318 lines 21-25, 1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand.

Page 321 2-13: Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input is required. Can u say ACORN?!!

Page 335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339: Govt mandates establishment of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing.

Page 341 Lines 3-9: Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advance Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing people into Govt plan.

Page 354 Sec 1177: Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people! Unbelievable!

Page 379 Sec 1191: Govt creates more bureaucracy - Tele-health Advisory Comittee. Can you say HC by phone?

Page 425 Lines 4-12: Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life patients.

Page 425 Lines 17-19: Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. Mandatory!

Page 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: Govt provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death. (assisted suicide)

Page 427 Lines 15-24: Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Govt has a say in how your life ends.

Page 429 Lines 1-9: An "advanced care planning consultant" will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates.

Page 429 Lines 10-12: "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOVT!

Page 429 Lines 13-25: The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

Page 430 Lines 11-15: The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life!

Page 469: Community Based Home Medical Services = Non profit organizations. Hello, ACORN Medical Services here!!?

Page 472 Lines 14-17: PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORIGINATIONS. 1 monthly payment 2 a community-based organization. Like ACORN?

Page 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. This means they will insert Govt into your marriage.

Page 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, and rationing those services.

Senator, I guarantee that I personally will do everything possible to inform patients and my fellow physicians about the dangers of the proposed bills you and your colleagues are debating.

Furthermore, If you vote for a bill that enforces socialized medicine on the country and destroys the doctor/patient relationship, I will do everything in my power to make sure you lose your job in the next election.


Stephen E Fraser MD

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Don't Panic!

Don’t panic.
While on vacation, the family went rafting down the Spring River in Arkansas. While the rapids were pretty tame we managed to make it down the river still loving each other at the end. There was one point in the river as we attempted to go over a rapid, the raft got stuck. The water was only a few feet deep but was rushing past us at an incredible force. We were still stuck on the little water fall. As I was by far the heaviest, I stepped out of the raft to free us. As I stepped out the raft, it jetted down the rapid leaving me standing in the cold rushing water. While Abby yelled “We are leaving Daddy.” Will took charge to save his father and paddled in circles, and Kellie laughed at all our lack of rafting skills, I stood on the ledge watching them float to safety. Abby was worried about my safety, I was concerned about their safety, and we all seemed to be stranded in this perpetual moment in time. After the moment subsided, they paddled to calmer water, and I proceeded to walk to the comfort and safety of the raft to rejoin our family adventure. I was quiet and clam walking to the raft focused on our reunion until I stepped on a snake. (I really don’t like snakes.)
In the 6th chapter of the gospel of John, we are told of a story of Jesus teaching and preaching the good news to thousands of people. The apostles approached him in a panic as it was getting late and the people had not eaten. They were only focused on the physical needs of the people. Jesus tells Philip to go and buy them something to eat. Philip reminds Jesus only of the financial sacrifice or commitment needed to feed that many people. Jesus calmly lays out a plan for God’s miracle to feed the thousands. It was all possible with the resources of a young boy. God fed all those that day with what little was offered. All the people were nourished both physically and spiritually with plenty left over. It reminds us that miracles are carried out by God and giving what resources we have no matter the size is the necessary ingredient God needs to initiate the miracle. Occasionally we can’t see past our own fears or our present predicament to allow Christ to touch others. Ever so often, we are only focused on the physical (only what we can see with our eyes) and not focused on the spiritual needs of others. We forget that the One who feeds the thousands, walked on water, and offers grace and mercy, also has a plan for you and our faith community. Our security is found in Christ’s plan for us. Only if we are willing to give up whatever we have for others.
Watch out for snakes, see ya in church, and take care of yourself and one another.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Why Are Things Like They Are?”

If you are like me, I have begun to find the news media coverage of current events very disturbing. There has been a rise in the coverage of family murder/ suicides. Some people blame the decline in the economy, the government, and even the change in climate but statistically there have been more of these tragedies that have taken place in the last few months. Anxiety, fear, and uncertainty seem to be the underlining cause of most of the problems we face each and every day. Lack of resources for the availability for help for those individuals struggling adds this toxic environment. So who or whom is to blame? The answer might surprise you. It is us, the church. In researching FCC’s role in the future I came across an article written by George Barna a researcher and the leading expert in church statistics and growth. “We have shifted our energy from a willingness to work hard toward achieving significant outcomes to an attitude of entitlement,” Barna noted. “We expect the market to pander to our needs in customized and personalized ways, producing a fragmented marketplace. We have transitioned from having a commitment to the common good based on shared values to an emphasis on personal good and individual values.”
“In the midst of all these – and other – transitions,” Barna continued, “our religious communities have not adapted well to the challenges of the day. Rather than facilitate people’s commitment to positive, life-affirming values and dedication to serving others, and living a balanced and moral life, churches and other ministries have fallen prey to the competitive spirit of the American system. Many of our religious organizations have focused on competing for bodies, dollars and talent rather than upholding core values. Without our faith communities playing their historic role as the moral and spiritual leaders of the nation, we have taken our values cues from the political and business sectors. That has lowered the bar on character and vision. That, in turn, has led the nation to deteriorate from a place on unity amidst diversity to a place of individualism amidst competition for personal comfort and supremacy.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” In our lives our ears have to be fixed on the voice of the one who leads us, our Savior Jesus Christ. It is critical we live out our core values: integrity, compassion, grace, service, unity, spirituality, and identity in all we do. If not we are contributing to the decay of what we hold so dear. See ya in church but until then listen to the good shepherd.

Until we meet again take care of yourself and one another,



Monday, April 6, 2009

It is About “It.”

We live in a complicated hectic world that leaves me in a constant state of confusion most of the time. I believe it is because I have too many choices and decisions to make. I desperately find myself wanting to return to my youth when things were simpler. Watching television is just one aspect of our lives that have become greatly complicated over the years. Growing up we had a black & white television with three channels. Today we have a HD television with over 200 channels. As a child the decision was simple to watch television, play outside, or bang on my drums. Not channel surfing through all 200 channels to see if anything catches my interest or can hold my already very short attention span. (Not to mention deciding which shows to record and watch later.) If our family watched television together, we talked during commercials; we did not fast-forward through them with the remote. Being the smallest in the family, I was the remote control. “Tommy! Change the channel, turn it up, turn it down, etc.” I even got some exercise as well as being entertained as an escape from reality.
Sometimes we try to make Easter more complicated than it should be. When we look at Jesus’ life and teaching, he made things really simple. During this Lenten season as we moved towards our destination, we have tried to keep it simple. It is about “it”. It is the love of Christ. Mary Magdalene was the model for “it” and a model we need to pursue in our faith journey as well. First, she had to lose it; she was healed by Jesus for the seven demons she possessed. When she experienced Christ’s healing touch she had to lose her past reputation, the guilt, and the chains that bonded her to her past. She lost her past life, she supported Jesus ministry and was a faithful follower until his death. Second, she had to find “it”. Mary Magdalene was the first to return to Jesus tomb. She was the first to find that Christ had risen but she did not understand the power of his love. She kept asking until she understood what had happened. Third, she had to get “it”. Although she found the tomb empty, she did not understand what had happened. She thought the risen Savior was a groundskeeper. After she encounters the risen Christ, she understood the significance of what her eyes had seen. Last, she had to pass “it”. Jesus instructed her to tell the disciples that he had risen. Out of all the disciples, all of Jesus’ followers, it was Mary Magdalene that He chose to reveal the good news. It was because out off all those there that day, she was the only one that lost it, found it, got it, and passes it on. Maybe it is that simple for us if we don’t allow our life to become too complicated. Has Christ’s love allowed you to lose your past? Have you found grace, unconditional love, and forgiveness in Christ love for you? Do you fully understand what Christ has done or can do for your life? Have you passed it on to others through your actions and words? Lose it- Find it- Get it- Pass it- It is that simple.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Want To See Jesus!

While we are nearing the finishing line of the Lenten season, I find myself full of more questions than answers. The end is in view. We have had huge success in all the programs of the last few weeks, we have experienced the Holy Spirit catching fire, and people are responding to it. In the midst of the excitement, enthusiasm, and pageantry I find myself with many questions. As we approach Easter and Jesus approaches the cross, what do we want out of the experience? What is it that we want to experience as we go through Holy Week? When we choose to follow Christ what is it that we want out of this relationship? Is Easter a time of spiritual renewal, a time to reflect on your own life, and acquire strengthen to face the future? Do we have any expectations about Easter or is it just a Holy time of the year?
If you are like me and your life is like mine the answer is simple. I want to SEE Jesus! When it comes to looking at Jesus, what do we see? Here are a few possibilities. We might see Jesus as miracle worker, and then wonder why we don't see miracles in our own life. We might see Jesus as a teacher and try to hear what he teaches and try to follow his teachings. We might see Jesus as the best example of how to live and attempt to emulate his life. We might see him as the Savior who gives us eternal life. Or, we might see him as all of these things, and perhaps even more! No matter how we see Jesus we all yearn to be in His glory. When we see Jesus on the cross, witness the pain, observe the destruction, we fail to see God’s glory. We miss the victory. We miss God’s unconditional love He has for us. We overlook the need to lose our life in order to gain it. The cross as the example of God’s glory is the single place we find the hope needed to make it to tomorrow. I want to see Jesus! What do you want?

Monday, March 16, 2009


In reflecting on the events of the past week, I have been in somewhat in a reflective mood. I have witnessed first hand how death can steal from us the most valuable commodity we all hold: time. I have been pondering the thought of what if the tragedy at First Baptist Church in Maryville and Pastor Fred Winters happened here at FCC and to me. While I prayed for the church and all those involved, never worried about my own personal safety, but what would I want to leave behind. What message would I want my faith community, everyone I know and care about to, receive if the exact same thing happened to me? I found myself with clarity, without horrible images in my mind, without the fear of death, with time being a precious unrecyclable resource, writing down little ramblings that came to me this past week.

Not at all to be morbid here are a few.

  • Don’t let the last few minutes of my life be the constant image you carry of me into the future. I pray my life was an example of the joy that comes with being in a relationship with Christ. Please laugh, joke, celebrate, have fun and remember me the way I lived life not the way I died.

  • Don’t ever be afraid to be in the house of our Lord. God’s house has to be open, free, and inviting to all, no matter what. Don’t fear the stranger as they need Christ love also.
    God called me home from the place were I feel his holy presences the closest. Behind the pulpit, communion table, or a guitar for me is the serenity place I feel the warmth, strength, and comfort of God the most. I was taken into God’s kingdom from the exact place where I experienced and came to know as the most Holy place on earth.

  • If I ever hurt you, disappointed you, or let you down please know it was not my intent and please forgive me.

  • Pray and pray hard. Pray for my family, our church, and the one who was responsible for taking my life. Forgive them also. View it only for the reality of exactly what happened. A person in poor mental health reacted out of his illness, not out of clarity.

  • Keep on truckin. Don’t spend much time and energy on mourning my death. Use that energy to help others connect to the love of Jesus Christ. That is my only passion, so use my memory only to motivate your self to connect others to Christ. Our church holds many special unique gifts, use them abundantly to serve, love, help, invite, and mentor others in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • Root for the University of Memphis Tigers, love each other abundantly, be limitless in forgiving each other, and at every opportunity share what God, not me, has done for your life. Remember God is about love and reconciliation so we will meet again.
    Last but not least, use the time you have left wisely and never take it for granted.

My intent is not to glorify this horrible tragedy or use it for my own gain but wanted to share my message if time was ever robbed from us. I hope it will stir your thoughts as we experience Lent together, reflect on the time Christ spent on earth, cherish the time we have, and chose to use it wisely. Time is the precious commodity. Shalom, Tommy

Monday, March 9, 2009

Saving Grace

When does a gift become a present? We all give gifts to friends and family for all sorts of occasions. Weddings, births, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and special occasions are usually customary times to give a gift. There is a lot of thought, time, energy, and creativity that goes into picking out the perfect gift. Giving gifts are a way we express our love for one another. Many people express their love for another through giving of a gift, time, money or energy. The gift does not become a present until it is received by the recipient. The value is not complete until it has been accepted by person we love. We would not spend the time searching for the right gift, fight the crowds at the store, spend our hard earned money to purchase it, wrap it in a nice box for a wonderful presentation, and then place it on a closet, and never give it to anyone. We would not go up to a friend and say, “I bought you the best birthday present ever. You will really love it. It will make your life so much better. Every time you see it, it will remind you of my love for you and give you peace and joy as a reflection of our relationship. But, you can’t have it; I’m not going to give it to you. I decided to keep it for myself.”
We would not ever say that to someone we loved. What if those words were from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? In reality, Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection says the exact opposite. He declares to us that the gift he has for us is grace. He has prepared the gift for us, it reminds us of His love for us, and it can bring us peace, joy, love and comfort beyond our imagination. But it is up to us to receive that gift. God’s divine grace is an "unmerited favor" of God, given freely to us but we must accept and receive it for us to become complete. In theology, grace may be described as 'enabling power sufficient for progression'. We also must pass the grace on to others. We have wasted the gift of grace if we are not willing to share it with others. Grace draws unity, understanding, love, acceptance, power, and hope. Let us receive it, understand it, and share it with someone we love this time of Lent as it becomes our enabling power for progression. That is when our gift becomes a present.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Keeping Promises

“Promises everybody makes them and everybody breaks them.” That is a catchy little quote I can up with sometime ago. I'm probably not be the original philosopher and someone else might have created it before me but its true none the same. When my quote resurfaces in my conscious, I am usually speaking about myself. A promise to my children to take them somewhere, the phone rings, someone in the church needs my immediate pastoral care and I’m off. While the family understands, my promise is still broken, feelings are hurt, and disappointment sets in. The natural remedy is another promise to take them tomorrow or at a later date. With the first promise already broken, though unintentional and with understanding, the second promise already looses its validity because I have already not lived up to the original. It can quickly become a slippery slope. Promises are either kept or broken, there is no in between. All people in our lives make us promises and we judge their legitimacy by the past behavior of the one making the promise. It is in our human nature to want to keep our promises but sometimes we can not predict the unpredictable. People throughout or lives, either publicly or privately, will break some promise to us either with good intentions or bad. It is an essential criterion in which we all live out our lives.
The mistake we often make is to apply the same criteria on the promises of God. While we struggle to keep our promises God delivers on His even before we can witness the outcome. God promise to Abraham and Sarah caused both of them to laugh. While the thought of having a child at an older age than most, (Abraham 99 years old was and Sarah was 90 years old) this couple actually laughed at God’s promise to grant them a child and build a great nation from their descendants. Can you imagine the absurdity in those words? A great nation, a child, at our age, when we went all these years barren, without a child, unable to conceive. All these thought must have been running through their minds. Now, when we are near old age we will have a son, and we will be responsible for breeding an entire nation. Reviving our old church, at our age, when the economy is bad, God will use our faith community to do great things, now? God can use me, with my past to share the love of Christ with others? YES! Why? God fulfills His promises. While the timetable was not what Abraham and Sarah anticipated, God’s promise was kept, fulfilled, and lived out. Let us think this week about the promises we make, those we keep and those we don’t. Let us remember that God always keeps His promise to us and to our church. Recall that what may sound absurd to us and cause us to laugh could often be the reality of God’s promise.

Trying to keep my promises but until then take care of yourself and one another.

In Christ Love,


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nine Life Principles

Here are Nine Principles in which I strongly agree with. Why I try not be political it seems our society has provided a climate in which one can not ignore. I can not understand the hate for one president and the refusal of criticism and silence of another. I can not comprehend the expediency to spend a unimaginable amount of money disguised as fear, uncertainty, and crisis. What about the speech on hope, President Obama? You criticized the auto makers for their jets but you flew two jets (Air Force One and the decoy) just so your and your wife could eat at your favorite restaurant in Chicago. Bush spent $597 Billion dollars on a six year war on terrorism and Obama spent $787 billion in one week. Makes one think there is little hope of change.
Here are nine principles I try to live my life by:

The Nine Principles
1. America is good.
2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me

Take care of yourself and one another.

Monday, January 26, 2009

“The Key to Victory, Love”

I am reminded today of a famous statement made to me by one of my basketball coaches. He said, “Remember there is no I in Team.” In which I, in my competitive nature, responded passionately, “There is in WIN! Now get me the ball.” It was not that I held dissatisfaction with my teammates; it was not that I doubted their skills and abilities; it was the simple fact that I had confidence in my own actions. I had no doubt that I could score and win the game. I desperately wanted the ball in my hands. I wanted to control the outcome of the game. At that moment, I did not care about the relationships of my teammates. I wanted, needed, and urgently want to win. Winning is the goal of any competition and the common goal of our team. In my view, the way to victory meant giving me the ball, letting me score, win the game, and then we all celebrate. Losing was just not an option. It was nothing emotional or personal. That may or may not work on the basketball court but it definitely does not work in the church.
In his first letter to the struggling church in Corinth, Paul writes in Chapter 8:1-13, it is love that makes one victorious. It is not the knowledge we have, it is not the ministries we offer, or the way we worship, it is how we love each other and interact with each other that makes us attractive to others. The Corinth church was arguing about eating meat. While they quarreled and complained about the issue, Paul reminded them that others outside the church were watching the way they loved each other. Here at FCC, we have a unique gift to share with others in our community. The gift we hold is the ability to love and care for each other. Loving each other does not mean we have to always agree but it means we still cherish, respect, care, and love each other along the way. If we love each other the way Christ calls us to love each other, Christ’s love will be intoxicating for those outside our walls. We must be willing to invite others to share in Christ’s love that we display naturally in our faith family. By building and nurturing healthy Christ like relationships, we all win. Let us all share the ball and share the love as we do the work of our Lord.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers

1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English.
What most people don't know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she'd always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
2. He made thieves think twice. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town.
Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it
3. He watched his figure to the pound. In covering Rogers' daily routine (waking up at 5 a.m.; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life.
He didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I'm not sure if any of that was because he'd mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143.

According to the piece, Rogers came "to see that number as a gift... because, as he says, "the number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three."
4. He saved both public television and the VCR. Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut public television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington.
Almost straight out of a Frank Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million.
Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR's to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.
5. He might have been the most tolerant American ever. Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first.
Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, "God loves you just the way you are." Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.
6. He was genuinely curious about others. Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he'd often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn't concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others.
And it wasn't just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec's house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host).
On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver's home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
7. He was color-blind. Literally. He couldn't see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents, who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.
8. He could make a subway car full of strangers sing. Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn't be noticed.
But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." The result made Rogers smile wide.
9. He got into TV because he hated TV.. The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other's faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn't be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won't fit!), to divorce and war.
10. He was an Ivy League dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.
11. He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.
12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.
13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant. He helped puppeteer and operate the trolley.
14. Several characters on the show are named for his family. Queen Sara is named after Rogers' wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.
15. The sweaters. Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.
Rock on Fred.. May we all learn from your example.

“Waiting, Worrying, and Watching.”

The day our daughter Abby was born was one of the most exciting, meaningful, and spiritual experience for me. I will admit that I was the one without the excruciating pain so I was able to have a more reflective perspective on the event. It was the first time I had witnessed a birth of anything, especially a child. The event was not at all like I had imaged or watched in the DVD at the birthing classes we took. When the crucial time for delivery came, the Dr. had not arrived. He barged in at the last second, began giving clear direct instructions to me and one nurse. I kept looking at him in confusion, until I realized we were the only ones that were there and no one else was coming. I assumed the hospital was filled with nurses and medical personnel. I was not to participate, I was just supposed to watch and coach, yell “push!”, get Kellie’s mind off the pain. That was my job and I was ready. I shouted to the Dr. “Isn’t there anyone around here more qualified to do this than me! I made a C in biology.” “No!” he replied as he gave me more instructions. I did not argue or think, I just began to follow his directions. Participating instead of watching gave me a richer fuller experience of the beauty of Gods activity in creation. The problem I had was waiting for someone else to show up and not trusting my own ability to follow clear directions. Still today sometimes when Christ calls us into action or gives us an opportunity to share His love with someone, we doubt our abilities or sit back and wait for someone else more qualified. When we get involved and serve others, when we participate, get in there and get our hands dirty, we gain a new deeper richer self awareness and spiritual experience. There is a big difference between doing the church’s work and doing Christ’s work. Service to the church is simply performing the duties, tasks and requirements needed to keep the church running and functioning. Service to Christ is living a life that is reflective of the gospel, forming relationships that introduce people to Christ’s love, and opening ourselves up and sharing how God has sustained us through the dark times in our lives. God relies on you and me not for us to wait for someone more qualified. His example and direction is found in the life of our Savior Jesus Christ. In the process we gain a deeper meaningful spiritual experience which is far better than just waiting, watching and worrying.
Serve God, Share Christ and take care of yourself and one another.