Happy Face

My cell phone has a variety of happy faces. Some smile. Some wink. Some appear to be laughing uncontrollably. Through the years, the people I’ve met have had a number of smiling faces, too. Many of their smiles have expressed real feelings of happiness. But a smile can also be a mask, covering deep feelings of sadness and pain. In our culture, people often…

The Crux Is Simple

Church can be complicated. Counting Maize Manor, I have been the pastor of five churches, and each one has been filled with complications. Churches have disagreements about the Bible; churches argue about long-held traditions; churches have bitter feuds about carpet colors; and most churches do at least some things that just make no sense at all. Somehow churches have become very good at making…

The American Spirit: Reservations

Two years ago, my wife and I began making a series of documentary films on the American Spirit.   The concept behind the films is to visit various groups of people within the U.S., so we can learn about their history, their cultures and how they help shape the spirit of our nation.   In February 2017, we completed the first film in the…

Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted

A church can feel a lot like a family. You have people you have known your entire life, people you like, and even people you don’t always get along with. 😉 There is something very powerful in the family relationships people have in churches, and we really are all family in the sense of being sisters and brothers in Christ. But there is one…

A Farewell to 2017

2017 is coming to an end. Like most years, it has been a time of ups and downs, highs and lows, good news and bad news. For much of the year, national politics have dominated the news cycles; but it has also been a year of global events and personal experiences. While we get ready to end the current calendar year, the church year…

American Idols

This November will be Mission Month for Maize Manor UMC! The United Methodist Church’s mission is “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” I like to shorten that to say our mission is to “Live Like Jesus,” which includes both making disciples and changing the world…but it’s a lot easier to say! In this day and age, there are a…

Things I Learned in School

Right now it’s time for students and teachers to go back to school. Back to school is an exciting time but stressful time. It’s stressful for students who are getting themselves ready to meet new teachers and make new friends. It’s stressful for teachers who are preparing lesson plans and classrooms. And it’s stressful for parents who are doing back-to-school shopping and rearranging schedules…

Be Still

It is amazing to me how quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday my kids were finishing up the last day of school, but now they are already gearing up for the first day of school for the new year. Summer is almost over! In the midst of the busy-ness of our lives – from work to family to everything else we have…

Letting Go

When people worship, they often try to leave their troubles at home. For one hour on Sunday mornings, they pretend everything is good in their lives even though secretly they are struggling. But I’m not so sure God wants us to leave our problems at home when we worship. Every time I open the Psalms, I am reminded how hard it can be to…