Skip to main content

Worth the Effort

I just returned from doing what may be my least favorite thing on earth: submitting my precious blood before an annual exam next week. Whenever we have blood drives here at the church, my public excuse for never signing up is because I lived in England a decade ago and my blood is not welcome (it's true). Good for me-- that way I can hide the reality: I am an absolute wimp when it comes to giving blood. The stuff freaks me out. Particularly when it's mine.

So driving to the doctor's office was accompanied by a profound sense of dread. I tried thinking of excuses to skip it, but knew the wrath from Christy would be severe. Reluctantly, and miraculously, without complaining, I pulled into the parking lot, walked up the stairs, signed in, and was called back. And then it was over. The woman doing the bloodwork was an absolute star. I was out of there in less than a minute. All the wimpiness and stress was for nothing. It probably will still take hold of me next year, but at least I know 2010 was a breeze.

Next week I'll sit down with the doctor to review the results. I can already hear it: exercise more, eat less junk, de-stress my life. Yep. Stuff I know I should be doing anyway I'll be reminded to do again. As I said last week in the message, personal responsibility is the key to good health.

As I drove to the doctor's office, I thought about the other areas of my life in which personal responsibility makes all the difference. It's just about everywhere, right? This being less than 48 hours from Sunday, I considered my spiritual life. My relationship with God is dependent on my own action, my responsibility. It's up to me to make it happen-- or not. So when I feel distant from God and other Christians, the question I need to ask is not "What's wrong with God or them?"; it's "What's going on with me?"

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, charged the early Methodists to "attend to the ordinances of God," meaning keeping in shape by observing certain practices: regular worship; Bible study; taking the Lord's Supper as often as possible; fasting and prayer. We'll hear more about these disciplines of faith in the sermon series for Lent, beginning February 21. But for today, let's ask the question: "What am I doing-- or not doing-- to strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ?"

My annual checkup is not something I look forward to-- especially the blood test. But it turns out, at least for this year, that the smallest amount of effort yielded fairly awesome results! Do you think the same would be true of God? Do you believe that if you observed the minimum God would still give you grace? And what if we did maximum effort for God? What would happen? Would we experience better health? Would we be happier? Would we feel less alone and more connected-- not just with God but with each other? Are we being personally responsible for our relationship with God? If not, this Sunday is a great time to start!


Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…