Reflections on conflict from an Access member
May 26, 2017

Each person has unique gifts, interests, and past experiences and a unique personality. When I get to know someone well enough I usually discover something fascinating within their uniqueness. Last week I discovered that a member of our Access congregation, Dirk G. Sutherland, writes devotionals, which are reflections and prayers on Biblical topics and scriptures. Dirk shared one with me related to our recent sermon series on conflict. I found it insightful and vulnerably honest and want to share it with you.

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photo by Ralf Kiepert (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cussing might be helpful
May 19, 2017

I've noticed something around me that I find curious: some people noticeably filter cuss words out of their language. They usually say something like, "Well, I can't say that in front of a pastor." Others don't filter their language but then sheepishly say something like, "Oops. Sorry, pastor." Friends, let me ease your anxiety. Cussing might be helpful.

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Mother's Day founder, Anna Jarvis
Why Mother’s Day founder fought to end it
May 12, 2017

Among the 10 Commandments we find, “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 10:12).  Setting aside a special day in our country to honor mothers goes back to the early 1900s, and the first such day began in a Methodist church; however, the woman that worked for that day of recognition later tried to put an end to it.

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Productive Confrontation Recap
May 05, 2017

In last week’s Access sermon I shared a story from Joshua 22:10-34 that relates a conflict between different Hebrew tribes. One group took a provocative action. The other group prepared to go to war. But before they started fighting, they talked and managed to resolve the conflict. In this week’s post I’ll recap the steps I shared on Sunday for productive confrontation.

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Mark Twain students helped FUMCR package over 100,000 meals
April 28, 2017

Last Sunday nearly 500 volunteers worked throughout the day to assemble over 100,000 meal packages for hungry people around the world. Among the volunteers were students from the Beta Club at Mark Twain Elementary, their teacher, and parents. Incidentally, the Beta Club is the same group that thanked Access members a few years ago by transforming their school library into an Italian restaurant and serving dinner. 

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A great Easter without a hunky Jesus
April 21, 2017

I had a fabulous Easter, and I hope you did too! My heart filled with joy as I worshipped with so many of you, your family, and friends. Last Sunday's worship also reminded me of how blessed I am to work with such talented people. Shandon organizes, manages, and troubleshoots things seen and unseen to create a sense of warmth and welcome in an often-chaotic environment. Eric weaves together graphic arts, music, light, and a host of individual people with unique gifts and skills into a cohesive whole that is beautiful in its own right and that also transports me beyond it into the presence of God. Julie connects the words of scripture to daily life in ways that consistently give me new insights, and she doesn't miss a beat when I ask things like, "What if we preached the Easter sermon together?" Our Access Easter celebration did lack one thing: a Hunky Jesus.

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4 invisible but real reasons for gratitude
April 07, 2017

Those creatures on the Access sign are gratitoads. In 2014 our church members took photos with gratitoads to document things for which we were grateful. I recently listened to a podcast where two psychology professors reminded me that not everything that provides a reason for giving thanks is visible. The professors gave four examples of invisible but real reasons for gratitude.

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Enliven prayer with hands-on activities
March 31, 2017

The Bible shows prayer as a deeply vital part of Jesus' life. Prayer has surrounded and sometimes instigated the most important decisions of my life. And yet sometimes my practice of prayer feels boring and stale. Over the next week I'm looking forward to two opportunities at church to enliven our prayers with some hands-on activities.

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Help assemble meals for hungry kids and adults
March 24, 2017

I rarely get hungry without eating something within minutes. I don't think I've ever gotten hungry and not had the option of eating. Life's not like that for everyone. In a few weeks our church will host a family-friendly event to assemble 103,000 meals for hungry people (mostly children), and I'd like your help.

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forgiveness quote

Help for forgiving and seeking forgiveness
March 17, 2017

This past Sunday I preached about forgiveness. Seeking or offering it can feel like having a huge weight lifted. Jesus said both are connected to our relationship to God. Yet, doing either can be very difficult. For all those reasons I want to recap a few of the insights and tips I shared on Sunday and add a few notes.

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Ignore me if you want to live
March 10, 2017

In a classic scene from the movie Terminator, the protagonist proclaims to a woman being hunted by a deadly Arnold Schwarzenegger character, "Come with me if you want to live." I couldn't help but think of that line as I read one of this week's spiritual meditations from the book, Pauses for Lent. Only, the message I heard was, "Ignore me if you want to live."

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Small group meet-and-greet & ice cream social this Sunday after Access
March 03, 2017

You can feel very anonymous in a large church like ours… until you join a small group. In a group, everyone knows your name, they challenge and encourage you to grow in your faith, and when you need support, they have your back.

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