How People Really Are

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
-Philippians 4:8

It can be easy to be dismayed by others in the world we live in. At times it becomes difficult to see the good in people, because we’re so quick to jump to our differences and faults. And if you are anything like me, it’s starting to weigh heavily on your soul. You might start asking questions like “why don’t we love each other?” or “will we ever be able to come back from this?”

I came across a video this morning that really spoke to me, and gave me chills. It’s a story from a man named Neal Foard, who was traveling with his father in 1969 when their car broke down. With no money and stranded, they weren’t sure how they might get to their destination, or even get the car fixed. They were greeted with unexpected generosity and kindness from complete strangers. At the end of the video he reveals the lesson his father taught him from all of this and says, “No matter what you see in the movies or on TV,  or you read in the papers… That’s how people really are.”

Friends, our very nature and design is good, very good. I want to encourage you to heed these words from the book of Philippians, to dwell upon the things in this life that are good, especially when we think about others. I encourage you take a moment and watch the video using the link below.

Blessings

Pastor Taylor

Watch Video Here

Who Do You Say That I Am?

In Matthew 16, Jesus is being pressed by the Pharisees and Sadducees for proof of his divine nature, asking for signs from heaven. It says they asked for one, but let’s be honest, they probably asked for far more than that. Jesus then has a conversation about the Pharisees and Sadducees with his disciples. He goes on to ask them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (16:13). They throw out a spattering of familiar names, Elijah, Jeremiah or  even John the Baptist. Then Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?” (16:15). Peter responds, “You are the Messiah”, a proclamation for the ages! Peter has identified who Jesus is to him, out loud to Jesus and his friends.

There are a number of fascinating facets to this passage, but one I want to focus on is Peter essentially proclaiming his faith. At some point or another the term “share your faith” has come up in church and each of us has been challenged to do so. I use the word challenge because for many, it is difficult. We’re often not sure exactly what to say, worried that we may end up saying something wrong and becoming a heretic *gasp*! This very question is a helpful starting point for how we share our faith with others, by first identifying what Jesus means to us.

For me, Jesus is my identity. I have a tendency to get to wrapped up in what am doing well or what have done wrong. My worth and my value get so wrapped up in who I am that I could never possibly measure up, nor could I ever dig myself out of the holes I put myself in. Remember what Paul says in Ephesians 1, “In Him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” My identity was already determined LONG ago. I get the privilege and freedom of wearing the seal of the Holy Spirit, the sacrifice of Jesus, the love of the Creator, not my own faults or accomplishments. Admittedly, I struggle to remember this at times, and yet it is foundational for my faith story.

How would you answer this question right now? I want to encourage you to take some time this week to answer this question, and then answer it publicly. Share it in a Facebook post, text a friend, or tell someone during your weekly activities. Who do you say Jesus is?

 

Slow Down

For Each Moment
Can I confess something to you? I have a tendency to go a million miles a minute when I get excited about something. So much so, that I might even miss the very thing I was excited about, because I didn’t take a single moment to slow down and take it all in. I think that happens to all of us at one point or another. Perhaps we’re excited about something, or we’re just trying to speed over a moment because it is difficult or unpleasant.
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I received a book of prayer recently from a dear friend and mentor of mine. They recommended this particular prayer and I’ve found myself drawn to it more and more every day. Pray this prayer with me today, and join me in an opportunity to slow down and be grateful for each and every moment, no matter what we might be in.
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Lord, thank you for each moment,
   for the blue-sky moment,
      the softening earth, the freshening wind,
   for the sap flowing,
      the bird nesting, the yellow bush,
   for my full heart
      and the joy rising in me.
Soften me
   to receive whatever comes as a gift
      and to praise you in it.
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Lord, thank you for each moment,
   for the twilight moment,
      the pause, the good tired,
   for the quiet reflection,
      the slowing down, the mysterious sunset,
   for my contented heart
      and the wisdom growing inside me.
Gentle me
   to feel whatever comes as a gift
      and to praise you in it.
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Lord, thank you for each moment,
   for the midnight moment,
      the loneliness, the fretful wondering,
   for the watchful stars,
      the long ache, the sleepless wait,
   for my restless heart
      and the hope straining in me.
Focus me
   to see whatever comes as a gift
      and to praise you in it.

~Ted Loder

Pastor Taylor

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect. I’m sure we’ve all heard that at one time or another in various activities in our lives. For me, I couldn’t stand practice! I didn’t want to go through fundamentals or drills, I just wanted to play whatever game I was involved in. But without practice, I couldn’t possibly know how to actually play the game, or play it well for that matter.

The same goes for our faith. While technically we are “in the game” no matter what we do, it takes intentional practice to live out our faith well. Let me make a confession, I’m not always great at practicing in my spiritual journey. The fundamentals are sometimes repetitious, the drills are arduous, and the conditioning can be downright exhausting and frustrating. My biggest encouragement for continuing these practices is the fact that it was modeled by Jesus. Time and time again Jesus would leave on His own for retreat, prayer, worship, and fasting.

Perhaps you’re in a place where you have developed good spiritual practices. Maybe you’ve never done some without even trying. The good news is there is time to start!

My encouragement today is to try a new practice. Maybe you want to try fasting for the first time (it doesn’t have to necessarily be from food), or take time for solitude and silence or praying through the scriptures.

For more info on spiritual disciplines, or Wesleyan Means of Grace, check out the website below:

https://www.umc.org/en/content/the-wesleyan-means-of-grace