Bill Jetton: Kingdom First (Luke 12:22-34)

Bill Jetton: Kingdom First (Luke 12:22-34)

    My grandfather died at the age of 95 last Sunday morning just before we gathered for worship - just in time for us to include his name in our All Saints Day prayers.  I’ve spent most of this week going to Arkansas to remember him with my family. Grandpa embodied our text today in his own life.  He trusted God with everything.  He sought the Kingdom first, and he invested his treasure in Kingdom things.  Today, I just want to tell his story as a picture of how to live this text and what a difference it can make.  
    My grandfather Bill Jetton was born in a farm house in eastern Oklahoma in 1921.  I’m not sure how much the roaring 20’s reached Oklahoma, but I know the Great Depression of the 1930s hit them hard.  It was a fairly big farm but still poor.  Grandpa helped his family around the farm, but his father was deeply committed to education. When Bill was a senior in high school, he met and fell in love with my grandmother, Myrtle Lee, a freshman.  He rode his horse 10 miles each way to court her on Saturdays.  
    My grandfather had grown up in a good honest family that had no religion.  He had never been in a church building for any reason until he met Myrtle Lee.  But she had grown up as a committed Methodist, and she said she couldn’t marry him unless he was a Christian.  He struggled with that for a while, and then his sister and brother-in-law helped him become a Christian during a conversation in their living room.  Then, he started going to the Baptist church with them.  
    The two got married at 18 and 15 years old.  My grandmother always says, “Well, I was almost 16.”  And granddad would always say, “Myrtle Lee, you were 15 and 2 months.”  And with a twinkle in her eye, she would say, “Well, that’s almost 16.” ...

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Election Week Prayer

Election Week Prayer

Here among us today are people who may vote Green, Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian - as well as people who may not vote.  In 1774 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, gave this advice for Christians in election season:
1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy.
2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.

We have different ideas about what will be best for our nation and for the world, and those discussions are important.  However, it’s more important that we affirm our unity as the body of Christ and join our voices together to pray for our country and our world today.

Almighty God, to whom we must give account for all our powers and privileges, guide us this week as we choose the elected leaders of our nation.  For the privilege of voting and for the rights and beauties of democracy,
    We say, “Thank you, Lord.”  

For the many public servants who are committing their lives for the care and improvement of our nation,
    We say, “Thank you, Lord.”  .........

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Culture Shock: Surviving and Thriving

Culture Shock: Surviving and Thriving

    Everyone gets culture shock at some point. 

   It's normal.  It's healthy.  It's unavoidable.  It's also funny and annoying and depressing and depleting and confusing and sneaky.   Sometimes you are having culture shock even when you don't realize it.  
    Event the Bible deals with themes of culture shock.  When the Israelites left Egypt, they complained, “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt.  And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.  But now our appetites are gone.  All we ever see is this manna!” (Numbers 11:5-6).  The Israelites had just escaped slavery, but they still had culture shock!
    One of my friends is an engineering executive at a Korean company.  When he sends his Korean engineers to England for training, they pack one suitcase with clothes and one suitcase with Korean instant noodles!  Food has always been and always will be part of culture shock.
    Another huge part of our adaptation in the culture shock process is coming to terms with a basic fact of life: There is more than one way to do most things.  Even though my culture's way of doing things seems obviously right to me, it may not be right for everyone or the only right way.
    In fact, here's something I've learned after living for almost nine years in Korea.  Some of the things that drive me crazy about Korean culture are strengths if seen from a different perspective.  For example, Koreans tend to make plans quickly and to change plans quickly.  As a Westerner, I really value long-term, stable planning.  But I have also learned that this Korean flexibility (which drives me crazy) is also one of the key strengths which has allowed Korea to grow so quickly and to adapt so well to a rapidly changing global environment.
    
    No matter what specific annoyances and adaptations you are facing, culture shock normally moves in a predictable pattern.  As we discuss each step, I'll describe how a new Westerner often feels in Korea. ...

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For Women Because Trump, Because Us

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for what Trump has said and done,
   sorry we let him.
I’m sorry that locker rooms were ever that awful,
   sorry some still think that’s OK.
I’m sorry that you live in danger from men like Trump,
   sorry we still haven’t fixed this, fixed us.
I’m sorry that we value babies more than the women who bear them,
   sorry politics trumps decency.
I’m sorry that our boys see our National Groper,
   sorry he expresses our manhood gone awry.
I’m sorry that Trump shouts our worst selves,
   sorry he is our collective national id.
I’m sorry that many Christians have been bamboozled,
   sorry we don’t act more like Christ.
I’m sorry that men have let you down and felt you up,
   sorry we deny, dismiss, defend, degrade.

You are worth more.
You deserve more.
You are beautiful and powerful.
You are our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters.
You are often our conscience, our beating heart.
You are our equals and often our betters.
You can lead the way.
You can reshape this broken world.
We will try to help you.

 

Why I am (still) a Nazarene

Why I am (still) a Nazarene

  I love the Church.  I love the Church of the Nazarene.  I am glad to be a Nazarene, and I hope I’ll always be a Nazarene.  My grandparents are Nazarene, and I hope my grandchildren will be Nazarene.  

    That’s why I work so hard to change the Church of the Nazarene.  My loyalty and my expectations are equally high.  When I criticize, I hope it’s constructive.  When I lament, I attempt to give voice to our collective prayer that we will get better together.

    Even so, sometimes, it’s good simply to celebrate what is good.  Sometimes, we need to remind reformers why we stay, why this is a family worth investing into.  Sometimes, we need to remind traditionalists that - even in the midst of our work for change - we still value our ecclesial tribe.  

    Here are seven awesome traits of the Church of the Nazarene.  We may not always live up to these, but I think we can all agree that these are at the core of what make us who we are.

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