Rainbow Road, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Track
July 21, 2017

In Mario Kart (unquestionably the world’s best video game), one of the final rounds of whimsy takes place on a track called “Rainbow Road.” The course is exactly as the name describes - colorful, bright and fun.  You drive around a long and winding multicolored road that poses one small challenge: there are no rails to keep you from falling off the edge. So the word ‘fun’ may be a bit of stretch for those of us who find ourselves falling off the track over and over again. I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t like to lose. I’ll be honest… I find this whimsical rainbow track to be a dream crusher.

So what happens when things turn out to be a lot harder than we originally thought? What do we do when it seems like we just keep falling off the track? 

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(
photo by Kevin Lim, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Two of your friend groups meet. Scary?
July 14, 2017

Our church staff is learning about the Enneagram, a tool that helps people understand the motivations behind their actions. We learned that some people's desire to be well thought of by others leads them to present themselves very differently depending upon the group they're in. It could be scary if two of their friend groups met, because they couldn't meet both group's expectations. The Bible gives us two stories of people that changed themselves for those around them and some clues as to when it's spiritually healthy to do that and when it's not.

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There is a way to do this...
July 07, 2017

Any time I begin playing a game there are two things I want to know: how do you win the game? And what’s the best strategy to get there? It’s a pretty uncomplicated method when playing games and yes, the narrow focus brings out my competitive nature. Similar to a magic trick or a puzzle, I want to know how it’s done. My faith at times has felt like a game where I don’t know the strategy. In times of questioning or moments of stagnation where I long to be closer to God, I find myself asking ‘how?’ repeatedly. How do I move forward? What is the next step? Is there a way to do this?

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A tool in God's hands
June 23, 2017

Last Sunday I shared a story of being used as a tool in God's hands. No, not one of the tools pictured or any kind of mechanic instrument at all. I was another kind of tool entirely.

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FUMCR members working on school in South Africa
FUMCR members work on the Skuinskloof school in South Africa

Why giving to the church multiplies world-changing impact
June 16, 2017

The knock on my car door window startled me. I was about to pull out of the Micro Center parking lot and hadn't noticed anyone nearby. I rolled down my window and saw a thin woman in her late 50s. She held a bag from the store. As the wind disheveled her long, graying blonde hair, she explained that her car wouldn't start. "I think it might be the alternator," she said and asked if I could help her with bus fare so she could get home. The excitement of having just purchased a USB Bluetooth dongle (version 4!) put me in a generous mood, and I gave her a $5 bill. Best-case scenario, she used it for bus fare, and my five dollars directly impacted and improved another person's life. Even as a pastor, when I give to the church I don't often see such an immediate impact. At the end of this post I will ask you to give to our church to help balance our income and expenses going into the summer, but before I do that, I want to share why giving to the church has the power to impact and improve far more lives than many other kinds of giving, and I'll do it with a story of how another 5 dollars helped bring dental care to a rural village in Africa.

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Your joyful spirit was noticed this week
June 09, 2017

This past week our church hosted an Annual Conference with about 1300 people representing every United Methodist Church in North Texas. Two hundred blue-shirted volunteers from FUMCR shuttled people from parking lots, gave directions throughout hallways, provided snacks during breaks, served meals, and more. Marveling at our volunteers one conference attendee asked Shandon, our Assistant Director of Welcoming Ministries, "How do you do this?" Shandon replied, "We ask people to help." The next question surprised Shandon and revealed something important about the culture of our church – something for which I'm incredibly thankful.

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Students thank Access for help reading books
June 02, 2017

Last Sunday we displayed a huge number of thank-you cards and notes from students at Mark Twain Elementary. They wanted to thank Access for helping them read an amazing number of books. In the 2014-2015 school year they read 4,000 books. How many do you guess they read this year?

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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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