“Are you prepared to vote?”

 

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I pass along to you an edited form of an excellent piece recently written by our church’s bishop. It really helps us understand better how our faith as Christians can help guide us through the election this next week. Let’s be in prayer!

Blessings!

Pastor David

 

“Are you prepared to vote?”

By Bishop Bruce R. Ough

October 18, 2016

At his installation serve in 2004, Bishop Hopkins (former bishop of the MN Conference) asked three questions:

            Do you love Jesus?

            Do you love your neighbors?

            Are you registered to vote?

Bishop Hopkins had everyone’s attention.

As people of the Methodist Way, we are called to scriptural holiness, which has both personal and societal dimensions and expressions. The question “Do you love Jesus?” is a call to vital piety. The question “Do you love your neighbors?” is a call to mission and evangelism. The question “Have you registered to vote?” is a call to advocacy and justice.

 

Our Methodist DNA is to be formational–“making” or shaping followers of Jesus into devoted, obedient, mature disciples. Our Methodist DNA is to be evangelical–inviting persons into a saving, grace-informed, and loving relationship with Jesus. Our Methodist DNA is to be in mission–extending abundant life to our neighbors far and near. Our Methodist DNA is to be advocates–standing with those who hunger for peace and justice, those who hunger for hope.


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Fighting on Your Knees

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In the less known but fantastic Dr. Seuss book entitled “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew”, we meet an everyman character who is inundated with obstacles and set-backs on his way to the city of Solla Sollew, “on the banks of the river Wah-Hoo, where they never have troubles, at least, very few.”  In his hope to live a trouble-free existence, our friend encounters many episodes, one of which involves him being enlisted in the army of Genghis Kahn Schmitz, where he is commanded to fight the treacherous Poozer.  He is provided with nothing but a bean shooter.  One Poozer however became many and our poor traveler had no choice but to retreat.  He was ill-equipped.  He had no prayer. I often feel the same in my own life. 

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Don’t Give Up!

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“Do not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” -Galatians 6:9
 
Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most beloved children’s authors and illustrators of all time! His popularity continues because his books are not just fun to read or take us to silly, wacky, and imaginary places, but because if you take a second look at the stories, there’s a message there for kids of all ages. Some argue that Dr. Seuss is actually quite a theologian and offers God’s kids (of all ages) good insight into some of the teachings of the Bible.
There is another story, much lesser known, that also teaches a biblical truth. Yet it’s not one that Geisel thought up or wrote; its one he lived. It’s the story of how he even became a children’s author in the first place.
Did you know that he had a very difficult time evening finding a publisher for his first book? While on a steamboat cruise, the cadence of the engine put a rhythm in his head that made him think in rhymes. So he worked and worked on his first story, both he and his wife pouring over each word, each line, over and over again. As the story emerged, the signature line got stuck in his head, “And to think that I saw it on Mullburry Street!” Can you hear the pulsing boat engine?

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No News or Good News

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“Green Eggs and Ham” is a classic among beginning readers.  Its repetition, its rhythm and its simplicity all lend themselves to a fun learning experience.  For the adult mind however, “Green Eggs and Ham” can become quite tedious.  Thankfully it has pictures.
As much as the recurrence of certain phrases in a story can be annoying, most of us prefer a predictable, reproducible schedule. 


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Hearing God’s Voice

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Jesus finishes a number of the parables He told with this curious phrase: “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” I’ve puzzled on that one for quite some time. What does it mean? After all, what else do ears do? They listen, right? They hear. So why does Jesus say this as the ending to some of His stories? “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Then it dawned on me. There’s a difference between having ears and hearing. It’s possible, for example, to have ears and not listen, right? Last week my wife told me I needed to pick up Nathan from football practice. She said, “Remember, pick him up at 7:30 at the high school.” Right. Pick him up, today, 7:30, don’t forget. I was so proud,

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Ears Open Wide

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As America’s political climate continues to heat up and as pundits throw around broad platitudes and fuzzy statistics, most of us are left with our heads spinning wondering which way is up.  There are no good options anywhere in sight and we wonder how we got here.  Where are the true servants? The real leaders? Those who stand for something good and honest?  When will we ever hear a substantive debate? A true exchange of ideas?

                Many an argument has been made on the basis of class-ism.  A mode of thought by which all citizens are clumped together into categories usually based on household income.  It is a convenient way to pit the rich against the poor,


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Butter Battle Bullies

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Bullying has become a huge topic for parents and teachers and anyone who works with kids. Everyone is connected to the internet and younger kids are having more and more access to all kinds of social media.  We have all heard the horror stories of adult predators posing online as peers to kids, or devastating messages from bullies sent, and received, by their prey.  Misery that was once contained to the school day has spilled over as now anyone can be contacted at any time.  

 

            I will admit, I am of the belief that a little hardship received from a bully can bring about positive character development.  It is good for kids to grow a thick skin that can whether a life time of unfair criticism, derogatory name calling and hurtful words…stick and stones as they say. 

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A Cautionary Tail

 

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I am a grown man.  I have a job, I have kids, I have actual concerns to worry about, and yet somehow I am constantly assailed by certain feelings of jealousy.  It could be a Facebook friend who really seems to be successful.  It could be some young guitar virtuoso on Youtube. It could be the author with 37 titles to his name on Amazon.  It could be that I simply need to get off of the computer…

But there are other things.  Maybe it’s the way someone else’s kids seem to be turning out.  Maybe it is a friend’s beautiful home.  Sometimes it is something as stupid as noticing the sheen and fullness of a well-grown beard.  I wish I could be so manly.

Jealousy affects us all at all ages


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We’re All Back to School!

 
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“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” -1 John 3:1 
 
Back to school! School is a place where children learn (not just learn content, but also learn the ability to learn), get an education and are provided with the opportunity to develop skills for life.
I have also been reflecting on how school–and education–can provide an image for our spiritual growth and development. Christians are always “in school.” We are called to continue to grow in our wisdom and knowledge. Paul’s prayer to the Christians at Colossi is “we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). As John Wesley reminds us, we must continue to grow in grace, holiness and love…and not to stop even if we have reached perfection! I recently came across a school lesson for Christians in Art Garner’s Why Winners Win.

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Life is Messy

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Well, summer is over.  The kids are back to school, the days are getting cooler and the sun actually sets at bedtime.  Summer is a wonderful time, but there is always a little celebration in my heart when I know my kids will be busy with school.  (I am the type of parent who is disappointed when they come home with no homework.)  The school year can be a grind and it is busy, but at least my kids are not lounging around my living room like a pack of lions at the zoo.  They have a job to do now.  They have some responsibilities to meet.  I have found that if we hold kids accountable, they will rise to meet the expectation.  Summer is great, but all the free time can lend itself to boredom.

Boredom is where the classic “Cat in the Hat” begins.  We meet two kids out of luck on a rainy day.  They have toys aplenty but seem to lack the imagination to employ them. In waltzes the cat, who brings with him “good fun that is funny”.  He has all kinds of great games in mind and he even invites a couple of friends over to share in the revelry.  (If you have to keep your friends in a large box, you might want to expand your social purview.) 
The cat claims to bring fun, but the children he is supposedly helping experience nothing but anxiety and stress.  They have been given certain rules, parameters to live by: “Keep your room clean.


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