Monthly Archives: February 2013

Be You. Be God’s. Be the Church.

Audio file of the full sermon.  The music that plays during this sermon is by Christopher Grundy.  The songs are called “Out on This Wire,” and “Stepping In.”  The mission projects I talked about are the Redbird Mission, and Kids Against Hunger.

“Be You. Be God’s. Be the Church.”

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lordsaid to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

Excerpts from the sermon:

“Being called into God’s ministry is for all who claim Christ.  Those who call themselves Christian are called to do more, to be more, to be transformed, to be a part of God’s work in this world.  God is calling.  God is speaking today.  God is calling you to be you; to be who God created you to be.  There are a lot of stories, a lot of descriptors people use to define themselves.  All too often we define ourselves by who we’re not.  ‘I’m not old enough. I’m not strong enough. I don’t speak well enough.  I’m not educated.  I’m not good enough.  I’m not qualified. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough.’  It’s all lies.  It’s all lies.  But all too often we believe them.  It’s so easy to believe the excuses, and say ‘No I can’t do it….’  But God is calling you to tune out the lies, and let go of all the obstacles, and to be who you were created to be.

“Allowing yourself to be God’s is hard sometimes.  Being God’s means that there will be words you are called to speak that you don’t want to speak.  There are places you are called to go that you don’t want to go.  There’s forgiveness that you need to offer that you don’t want to offer.  There is shame that you are called to let go, but for some reason you still cling to.  There is a neighbor that needs a friend.  There is a stranger that needs a hand.  A young person that needs a mentor.  It’s not always easy.  And if you try to do it on your own, it will be impossible.  Because this is God’s work.”

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I’ve lost 70 pounds, but I’m still The Fat Pastor

I high-fived my doctor today.  I had my annual physical.  It was a year and a day after stepping on the scale at that same doctor’s office and reading that I weighed 329 pounds.  Today my doctor looked back at what I weighed last year.  When he saw that I today I weighed 259, he gave me a high-five.

I have gone through a transformation in the last year.  I have transformed my habits.  I have transformed my priorities.  In so doing, I have transformed my body.  More than this, I have experienced spiritual transformation.  I pray more.  I study the Bible more.  I have discovered that when I am more disciplined in my eating and exercising, I am also more disciplined as a follower of Jesus Christ.  I am still transforming.  I am striving every day to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

I have lost 70 pounds in 366 days, but let me be clear – I am still The Fat Pastor.  For one thing, I am still overweight.  One year ago I was 34% body fat.  Today I am 25% body fat.  That is a great improvement, but it is still too high.  I literally have too much fat on my body.

Yet even if I lose another 70 pounds, have 7% body fat, and can run a marathon in under 3:00:00, there will always be fat that I can trim from my life.  I am, like John Wesley said, moving onward to perfection.  Until I am there, I will be laden with fat.

The difference between fat and fit is choices.  I make fat choices when I choose a mindless television show instead of time in study.  I choose fat when I spend too much time on facebook instead of cultivating relationships.  I choose fat when I refuse to help a neighbor.  I am fat when I objectify a woman.  I am fat when I contribute to an unjust society. I am fat when I forget the needs of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed.  I am fat when I am blind to racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other way that humans try to divide and separate and subjugate.

I’m trying not to be fat any more.  I’m trying real hard.  I draw strength from the love and support of family and friends.  I draw strength from the encouragement of a remarkable facebook “following.”  I draw strength from the words of the prophets that remind me that God’s love and God’s promise of a new day is something for which we can all strive.  I draw strength from the Church as the Body of Christ in the world.  Above all, I draw strength from the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I draw strength from knowing that it is not my strength on which I must rely.

Jesus said “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

I try to love God.  I worship, and I pray, and I read and listen to God’s Word.  I come to Table of Grace.  I fall down in confession, and I rise up with the Holy Spirit.  I try to live well, because I take seriously the oft-forgotten command to love yourself.  I try to do good, because it is through doing good for others that we best express our love of neighbor.

I am The Fat Pastor.  I’m trying not to be. With God as my strength and my salvation, I will be The Fit Pastor someday.  Until then, I’ll keep on my journey of transformation.  Thank you for going on this journey with me.

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Left: December, 2011.  Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.

Left: December, 2011. Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.

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This is not a treadmill. This is my time machine…

Image“This is not a treadmill.  This is my time machine.  When I’m on it, I see the future.  And I see me in it.”  I started to say that to myself yesterday as I ran.  It has become my mantra.  Yesterday I ran farther than I have ever run before.  Three miles in under thirty minutes has become my standard run.  Yesterday I decided to do it twice.  I ran 3.06 miles in thirty minutes, then took about a two minute break to stretch and get some water.  I ran another 3.07 miles in thirty minutes.

The longest I had ever gone before was five miles.  As I approached and then passed five miles, I was thrilled to know that each step I took was pushing my boundaries.  Every step I took was pushing me a little further than I thought possible.  At the same time though, I was getting tired.  I was keeping the same pace, but I wasn’t picking up my legs as high as I had been.  It was getting more and more difficult to control my breath.  I knew I wanted to reach six miles, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it.

And then I said it.  “This is not a treadmill,” I whispered to myself.  “This is my time machine.  When I’m on it, I see the future.  And I see me in it.”  I kept going.  I turned off the little TV monitor, and could see my face in the black screen.

“This is not a treadmill…” I said again in barely a whisper.  With every step I was redefining who I was.  With every step I was transforming.  With every step I was leaving behind a less healthy me.  “This is my time machine…”  I said again, this time a little louder.  Someone standing next to me might have heard, but I was alone.

I passed five and half miles, and knew that the end was getting closer.  I was getting stronger.  I felt energy surge through my body.  “When I’m on it, I see the future…”  I said out loud now.  And I saw it.

I saw first days of school.  I saw softball games and ballet recitals.  I saw slumber parties and Phillies hats at Wrigley Field.  I saw broken hearts and mean boys.  I saw high school basketball and halftime dances.  I saw first loves and Prom.  I saw piles of books, messy desks, and graduation gowns.  I kept running, and turned up the speed on the treadmill.

I saw silver streaks in the hair of my wife, and wisdom wrinkling her eyes.  I saw light in her eyes, felt the warmth of her smile, and was briefly taken back to the first time I saw her, the first time we kissed.

“And I see me in it,” I was almost shouting now. I felt the same flutter in my heart that I did 15 years ago, but now it has depth.  I saw her clutching my hand as we drive away from a dorm.  I saw her fixing the veil she wore on the head of our daughters.  I saw myself dancing with a beautiful woman in white to Isn’t She Lovely, and with another to Lucy in the Sky.  I saw babysitting and storytelling.  I saw ravioli cutting with another generation, crowded laps, and adventures I cannot even imagine.

Running as fast as my legs could take me, I passed six miles.  The time on the treadmill ran out, so I slowed.  I wiped off some sweat, maybe a couple of tears, and then I stepped off the treadmill.  Only it isn’t a treadmill.  It is a time  machine.  When I’m on it, I see the future.  And I see me in it.

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40 Notes in 40 Days

40notes40days2014Rethink Church has come up with a great Lenten discipline focusing on taking pictures of different themes.  It looks like a great spiritual discipline, and I’m looking forward to seeing the creativity that gets shared in Pinterest and other sites.  A week ago, I decided that one of my Lenten disciplines would be to write 40 notes to people in 40 days.  Inspired by Rethink Church’s effort, I created my own list.  Below is a list of 40 different people to write a note to.

There are no real rules to this idea.  This is just a way to write a note to 40 different people, and pray for them in the process.  I’ll leave the content of the note up to you.  Only share what you feel comfortable sharing with others.  For example, you don’t have to tell someone that you’re writing them a note to fill in their “might be fearful” slot, and you don’t have to offer forgiveness to the person on March 27.  Any note could be as simple as saying, “During the course of my prayers today, you came to mind.  I hope you are doing well.”

And if any readers feel compelled to take this idea, and create a better-looking picture to share, I wouldn’t mind (just please send it to me before you share it).

If you try it, and want to share experiences on twitter, use #40Notes40Days or #FatPastor.  Also, you can go to the facebook page and share on the wall.

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Thank you to two readers who took the idea, and redesigned it for me. I think either of these look a lot nicer than the one I created a couple of years ago.

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Lent Photo a Day #40Days

Lent Photo a Day #40Days

This is an idea to share a Lenten prayer journal. Each day take a photo that captures the subject on the day. It starts Ash Wednesday, and ends the day before Easter. Might I suggest the word “Resurrection” for Easter Sunday? I’ll be posting mine on twitter @FatPastor, with the hashtags #40Days and #RethinkChurch. I just wish I had instagram. I’ve got a very old camera phone, but it should be an interesting endeavor.

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February 10, 2013 · 11:20 pm

Goal reached

goal

Weight on Feb 13, 2012: 329

Goal set a few days later with Lose It!: 260

Weight on Feb 8, 2013: 259

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February 8, 2013 · 11:23 am