Can I Get a Witness?

•March 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I love our weekly worship at St. Luke, especially, the time when we share our joys during “The Prayers of the People” where many of us share how God has been working in their lives.  Really, each person’s sharing of their particular joy, whether a birthday, an anniversary, a celebration of a birth, or gratitude for a beautiful day, is a witness to all gathered of the goodness and faithfulness of God.  I feel very connected to God and to our community of faith when I hear of an answered prayer that brings joy to the sharer and all who are there to witness that joy.  Truly, we serve a risen Savior. God is good all the time!

John 3:16 is a famous verse that all, or certainly, most Christians know and have heard.  It is probably the most memorized verse of children and adults, second only to “Jesus wept” from John 11:35.  It is what comes before John 3:16 I want to reflect on for a moment.

Jesus is talking with Nicodemus about being born again, not by water, but by the spirit.  Nicodemus is a leader of the Jews, so he’s a smart fellow concerning “church” things of his faith.  Yet, he does not see how to believe beyond himself.  I’m like that at times.  I think that I am the one that controls everything around me.  You’ve heard the phrase, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”  I guess that’s partly true, but actually, God is with us in all we do.  God’s grace goes before us to provide a way.  The problem I have is not following the path in God’s will.  I’m too caught up in the human part of birth, and I lose sight, or have no vision, of the spirit that is leading me.  Jesus compares the spirit to the wind– “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).  We believe in the wind, even though we cannot see it.  BUT, we can see and believe in the effects of the wind.

When our people share their joys on Sunday mornings, I get confirmation that God is working in the world.  I do not have to see Jesus nor the Spirit to believe in the effects of God’s power among us.  I have the witness of Christians in our Sanctuary on Sunday mornings for that.  Each person’s witness to the work of God in their life is a JOY, and it’s a confirmation that God is alive and working among us through the Spirit in the world.  Jesus did not come to die in vain, but to give us hope and show us the way.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Do you believe?  

Can I get a witness?

Ash Wednesday – Doorway to Holy Lent

•March 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

A dear friend of mine sent me an article from our local paper about two churches from different denominations sharing the same building while one of the churches is renovating their space.  There is a lot of the Kingdom of God in this article as it points to what Jesus is trying to model in his ministry among us.  And, Ash Wednesday is a good day to start reflecting on this way of living together.

Ash Wednesday is the doorway to a Holy Lent.  Many of us “Christians” will be going to services throughout the day to have our foreheads marked with the sign of the cross–a pastor or priest “imposes” ashes on our heads.  The ashy cross is an outward sign of an invisible, inward grace that signifies to all who see us that we are entering into a Holy Lent, which is a time of reflection, spiritual disciplines and acknowledging our mortality and sin.  At the intersection of our sin and the cross, true salvation is available to all.

Rev. Mark Proctor and Rev. Jeff Kane are working together to meet each other at this mysterious intersection of sin and grace, and inadequacy and mercy.  Proctor, in a recent article by Marvine Sugg in The Daily Herald, states,  “Despite our differences, we agree on the centrality of the cross — we all come together at the cross.”  Truly, we all come together at the cross.  It is at the cross where we can see the light, and the burden of our heart is rolled away, like that stone on the first Easter morning.  It is there, by faith, we can see the light of heaven, and see possibilities to bring heaven on earth for our brothers and sisters. 

The United Methodist Church has always had this unique and organic nature of unity in our make up.  Each local church is part of the greater church of Methodism, and, therefore, the Church of Jesus Christ globally.  Yet, we do not, as Methodists, take advantage of what these two fine churches in Columbia have found possible across denominational lines. The Apostle Paul describes this concept beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12:12– “Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many.”  By focusing on their similarities in the body of Christ, rather than their differences, the Kingdom of God comes “on earth as it is in heaven.” 

My charge this Lenten season is to be the body of Christ.  I want to experience the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven.”  I want United Methodists to embrace our unique and organic nature to be the body of Christ, not only across denominational lines, but surely from local church to local church in our greater United Methodist structure, even, and especially, in our community of Columbia and Maury County, Tennessee.  May God help us to make it so!

Columbia Daily Herald article:  http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fcolumbiadailyherald.com%2Flifestyles%2Ffeatures%2Ftwo-different-denominations-thrive-despire-their-differences%23sthash.gYVSshld.dpuf&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHqc9qORZLEsaxhUCLQCSc3Z4oSXA. 

Last Days

•June 5, 2012 • 3 Comments

I have been so fortunate to have a church job since 1982.  Initially, I was hired as a janitor to clean the church and keep the floors shiny and spotless.  When the choir director became sick due to cancer, I became the choir director in 1985.  I have been directing choirs consistently since that time.  God has been good, and blessed me with many opportunities.

One opportunity I thank God for in my career of choir directing is my time with First United Methodist Church in Columbia.  I started January 1998.  Dr. Keith Moore left things in very good shape, so the start of my time with Columbia First was fertile soil for my efforts with the choirs and church folk.  Now, it is my turn to leave things in good shape for the next choir director.  I pray that I have cultivated the soil during my time as choir director so that the next leader will reap an even greater harvest than I was able to reap.  I have no regrets.  I did the best I could with what I knew, had the talent to do, and the situations and resources I was given to work.  God often took my worst and made the best for the church.

So, I will leave my dream job on Sunday, June 10 for another opportunity to serve.  I have loved my time with “my people” at Columbia First.  God was in the journey in 1998, and God is in the journey in 2012.  I will be the pastor of St. Luke United Methodist at the end of June.  I look forward to learning to love them as much as I have grown to love those at Columbia First.  I’m in the “last days” of my tenure as Director of Music at Columbia First.  It will be hard to say goodbye or see you later.  But, “last days” at one place mean “first days” at another.  The hymn states it best:

O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.  Our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.

God is Good…All the time!

•May 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I recently discovered this phrase originated in Nigeria. It is a greeting used to affirm that God is always doing good for us. If you look around with your spiritual eyes, you’ll see that God is working “divine surprises” in your life all the time and all around you.

God has been working so beautifully in my life since I gave it all over to God in October of 2010. Although, my daily walk with God might have moments that my physical eyes could not see the “divine surprises,” looking back, I see all of the grace God was giving me all along the way. Those times I thought God was far away, God was actually with me sustaining me always.

So, God is good…all the time! I pray I will always remember, when times are tough or things are running smoothly, God is present with me. I need to remember and claim Romans 8:28, ” We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I Love to Tell the Story

•March 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Recently, a friend of mine, and member of our church, wrote me a note explaining the first time he sang in choir it was the old hymn “I Love to Tell the Story.”  We shared the experience of singing a fresh arrangement of the hymn in our choir in worship.  He and I never tire of the song.  I suppose it strikes a chord that brings all things familiar about the life of Jesus Christ we’ve heard all of our lives.

The hymn points to the essence of Discipleship and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19.  Essentially, Jesus is sending his disciples out to tell the story of his life.  When we are committed to Jesus Christ and truly love him, we “love to tell the story” he has asked us to tell.  “What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet!”

Check out the lyrics to the hymn.  Is the story of Jesus a sweet thing to tell for you?  Do you reflect fondly on the love of Jesus for you?  No matter if it is someone that has never heard or “those who know it best,” I love to tell the story!

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

Refrain

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain


 

My boys

•March 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

My boys

brothers forever!

Full House

•March 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

When I was about six years old, I had a revelation of sorts.  I truly felt that God revealed to me that I would be married and have a family.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom, so I guess she planted the idea of a happy home, full of love and warmth, as the ideal for everyone.  I just knew I would be married with kids.

I thank God that I have found the love of my life in Claire.  We have committed our life to each other and have been blessed with two wonderful young men.  My early revelation has come true.  I love being a husband and father.  Family is the main thing in my life.  My life feels worth living because I have a family surrounding me.  Through the good and bad, the ups and downs, I am fulfilled  being blessed with family.

Scott has been away at college.  Hunter is home, but the house is full when everyone is there.  This weekend, I have a full house.  We are all together.  It is a satisfying feeling.

There is something sacred about family.  God ordains it.

Love your family and hold them close.

Tommy

 
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