Monday, March 21, 2016

Love God. Love Yourself. Love Your Neighbor. PERIOD.

Mark 12 28-31 (NIV)
The Greatest Commandment 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


---

So why is there arguing?
Why is there pointing fingers?
Why is there people who think another human is incapable of receiving entry into heaven because of something that is not in their power?
Why do people think THEY are the ones who get to sit in judgement?
Why do people hurt others emotionally or physically in the name of the Lord?

The words are clear. 
Love God.
Love yourself.
Love your neighbor.
 
Those are the words in red.


I am Methodist.
I believe 304.3 in the Book of Discipline needs to be removed.
I believe 341.6 should be reversed.
I believe that no human is perfect and that includes those who wrote the Book of Discipline.
I believe that humans can correct the mistakes they have made and allow a Methodist Church that truly lives up to their slogan - "Open Heart. Open Minds. Open Doors."

I pray that someday this will be the case.  

It's NOT complicated.
It's simple.
It's also not easy.... but it's His word.

...and when it's His word against a human's word... I will always choose God. 
   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Titus 2:11


"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."

That is my personal favorite quote.
It's what I have on the back of my church kickball shirt.
I play kickball for Jesus. Our team is PRAY BALL and I see it as a great ministry in the world... in Kyle, Texas.

PRAY BALL logo
Agreed... It's not a "think inside the box" Ministry. But it's a ministry nonetheless. It's us as Christians going out in the real world and playing a kids game. Why is it a ministry?

Well... we aren't the best team out there (we DO get pretty tight by the end of each season) but we go out there each game and do our best. We try not to let the game get to us... but if we do and we lose our tempers (it's happened) we apologize and make amends. We're not perfect... and it's time that Christians are seen in the world warts and all.

A quote that one of my teammates and a lay reader at our church says often is... "We are not a perfect people. We are a people that get together to worship a perfect God."

We also pray. At the conclusion of each game, we circle up and say a prayer. When it's my turn to pray I usually start out by saying "Dear God, thank you for letting us come out here to play a silly little kids game..."

Over the last 4 years of playing we've counseled people. We've talked about Christ and what he's doing in our lives. We've drank a few beers with the other teams after the games while talking about church...or life.. or nothing at all. We've prayed for and with other members of the kickball league and their families. We've joined a kickball family that comes together for fun, fellowship and support. We've opened doors and accepted and been accepted in return.

Isn't that what church is? I mean without the whole building and framework of "greeting / song / announcements / song / communion / offering / song / sermon / song / closing?"

We are all ministers just as we are all God's children. We ALL have been given the gift of forgiveness by God... we just have to accept and forgive ourselves and others.


"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."

ALL men (or people / beings / living things).

So... I choose to play kickball... with a bunch of people who might not attend church... who might have different beliefs than myself (or no belief at all)... who might have an opinion of church that has been formulated out of their own unfortunate experiences (or worse.. their reading of  negative media portrayals and NOT personal experience). I've also met some Emmaus brothers and folks who wear their faith on their sleeve... or have shared their love of God with me through knowing we're a church team. It takes all kinds to make a kickball league.
PRAY BALL (light blue) prays after a game with the Free Ballers

I play because it's fun. I play because it's a ministry. I play because I might be the only example of church some of those folks get that week... and I know I'm not perfect.. I know I'm flawed.. I know that I'm not the BEST representation of Christ and the church in the world (meaning I don't think a pastor would choose me as the Christian poster child)... but I know that I'm AN example and maybe a flawed human being who is trying his best to live a Christian life... warts and all... is what someone might need at that moment.

I am Methodist.
I am flawed. I don't try and hide it.
I accept that and am happy.

PRAY HARD. PLAY HARD. HAVE FUN!





Sunday, September 29, 2013

Youth Matters To Me - Testimonial by an 11 year-old

YOUTH MATTERS TO ME
by Vincent Johnson

Youth matters.

Youth matters to me.

My name is Vincent Johnson and I am 11 years old, about to be 12, and this is my first year of Youth. And it is already making a difference.

My questions are not your questions. 
My understanding isn't the same as yours.
I am still learning who God is to me.
I am still learning about Jesus and what his sacrifice means.
I'm still learning to walk in this world, but not be of it.
And I need a place where I can ask the stupid questions, 
where I don't feel awkward,
Where I don't feel out of place,
and where I can feel safe to question all the things I keep being told.

Youth is a peer group.
Youth is a group of friends.
Youth is a place where we can discuss the things that bother us without the usual platitudes.

Youth is not just bible lessions,
or social hour,
or infinate fundraisers.

It is lead by Christian example.
It is without limits.
It is about what it means to be a Christian adult.

All week long, I go to school and I am afraid.
I'm big enough that bullies don't bother me.
I am smart enough that grades don't bother me.
But, I have real problems making friends.
I have a hard time relating to people
and sometimes I think that I just don't fit in.

But when I am here I stop worrying about that.
I know that no matter what I say,
no matter how I dress,
no matter what I do,
I am loved and accepted.

And THAT is why Youth matters.



This Testimonial was delivered during "Youth Sunday" at Kyle United Methodist Church in Kyle, Texas on Sunday September 29, 2013 where the author and his family are members.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

God Listens... to Slayer.


Because... God ROCKS.
 I actually interviewed Tom Araya of Slayer in 2006. It was a fun interview. You can read it here - It's got some profanity.. so be aware - Slayer interview on Blistering.com



Since it WAS 2006 and that was the year that 6/6/06 happened and people called it "International Day of Slayer" I thought I'd go ahead and ask him "Is Slayer a Satanic band?"

Below is his response. It was interesting to hear him explain... pretty much he couldn't say "No, we aren't" and it didn't sound like the answer was "Yes, we are." It was more like... that's the image Slayer sold themselves as in 1983... here we are 30 years later and, in order to preserve the past, Tom wasn't able to give me a straight answer. I don't blame him, at all... I respect him more now because of how he answered me.

Sean Claes: "Is Slayer a Satanic band?"

Tom Araya: We brought that on ourselves. When we released Show No Mercy (1983) all of the songs were like "Black Magic" and "Evil Has No Boundaries." Then there’s the imagery that's been associated with the band.

We're not going to shy away from it. That's what the band was about when we started and the minute you start to turn your back on it, like anything else, the music will turn its back on you. We labeled ourselves and it just stuck.

We’re not going to change the kind of music we play and if we change our image we will lose our integrity. We haven’t turned our backs on ourselves and our fans.

Now... I have to say... if I'd interviewed Kerry King, I may have gotten an entirely different answer...

God loves Slayer... and you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Something I heard on the Radio

I live in Kyle, Texas which is South of Austin and north of San Antonio on IH-35. I work in Round Rock, which is north of Austin... so I commute avout 40-50 miles each way daily. That means I spend a lot of time in the car. I like to listen to the radio and about 80% of the time, when I'm not listening to a CD, I'm listening to christian radio. In Austin, the local station is KFMK Spirit 105.9. I was listening this morning when they played their daily "Family Name Game" where they announce a name, and if you have someone in your family with that name, you call in and say something nice about them and if you're the first caller you win a little prize... usually gift certificates to a local restaurant.

Well.. this morning it was "Tiffany." The person who called in, while telling us about their Tiffany mentioned something that stuck. I paraphrase here:

"We're not called to try and change people. We're called to love them where they are in life."

That makes so much sense, and it's something that many Methodists (and Christians in general) don't follow. It's pretty simple, but hard to follow. It's how I try and live my life... not always successfully.

- Accept people where THEY are. Don't try and make them come to you.
- It's not your job to change people. God changes people... you can talk about faith and how it applies to YOUR life, but don't assume you know how other should apply it to theirs.
- If you're so inclined.. invite someone to your church worship service... but don't force it on them.. that only makes you sound and look like an overbearing Christian... because that's exactly what you're doing.

I am a Christian. I am a Methodist.

I also enjoy the same things most other folks do... I like to have a beer or two, I enjoy Austin music, I'll eat it if you cook it, for the most part, and I'm always looking for something that makes me smile and laugh. I like to goof off with my daughters, make my wife smile, and I use my twitter feed many times as a place where I publish steam of consciousness funnies that I think of during the day...

I know I'm not called to change people directly. I also know that my presence might be one of the pieces of the puzzle that may help someone get to where they need to go on their faith walk. When I'm out playing Co-Ed Kickball for my church team (The Kyle United Methodist Church's team PRAY BALL) I know that for a good number of the people out there... our interaction with them may be the only church they get that week.

Be a piece of the puzzle.
Be a vehicle that helps deliver God's Grace.
Be an example of a Christian living in the world today.
Just Be.

No...
I'm not perfect.. I'm far from it... this blog is as much a reminder for me than it is a story for you. Thanks for reading.
- Sean

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chuck Knows Church - Neat.

Chuck Knows Church is a neat little video series put on by the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church.

In the series, "Chuck" (played by Josh Childs) lets you know about things you may have always wondered about... like why do many Methodist Churches host a pancake dinner for Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. Here's the video:




It launched back in November 2012.. and they have a WebsiteFacebook Page, YouTube Account, and Twitter feed.

As of February 15, 2013 they had put together 16 videos and they encourage churches to use the videos wherever they'd like. VERY interesting outreach.

Well done.

Thursday, September 27, 2012