Growing Pains

2018 has been a year of reflection for me. I was born almost 40 years ago this Juneteenth. I’m not approaching this milestone with trepidation, but with a mix of relief and anticipation. I never expected to reach 40 years for some reason. As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be 30. For some reason I thought 30 would be the year in life when I had it all figured out, whatever that means. I never wanted to be 40 and not have it all figured out, yet here I almost am. I think the number 40 is significant to me and all of us believers because the number is significant to our faith story. 40 days and nights on the ark with Noah, 40 years wandering in the wilderness with Moses and the Israelites, and then 40 days in the wilderness with Jesus. The number 40 represents growing pains for God’s people. The number 40 represents God’s growing pains for us. The number 40 also represents God’s persistent patience and presence with us. If God is able to stick with us through 40 seconds, 40 minutes, 40 days, 40 nights, 40 months, and 40 years, then God is obviously willing and committed to sticking with us throughout life.

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Christmas is over. We have removed the star from the top of the Christmas tree to mark the journey of the wise men searching for the newborn King. We have given gifts to loved ones in remembrance of the gifts given by the wise men to the Christ child. We are living in the deserts of Egypt as our gloomy winter lingers on, and the low clouds depress our minds and hearts as though we too are refugees waiting and longing to return home. Yet, there is Good News! It is a new year with new beginnings, new adventures, new babies, and new opportunities to continue the hard work of being the kingdom of God on earth. Isaiah 61 is a good place to begin 2018. As you read and meditate on Isaiah 61, ask for the Lord to move you to continue living in the joy of Christmas, “do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God,” Micah 6:8b, and in the midst of all the bad and/or fake news, believe that God has called you to join in the radical beauty of sharing the Good News.

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Body of Christ

People who love God and follow the way of the cross understand bodies differently than those who do not love God and follow the way of the cross. For on the cross a specific body was tortured, mocked, and killed. This body held all the kingdoms of the world, carried all the sin of the world, and gave away his life to give us eternal life. Before the sacrifice of his body, he had to obtain a human body. He could have chosen anybody to indwell…a warrior’s body, a Roman body, or a body of inherited, earthly privilege, yet God chooses to indwell a teenage girl’s body and put on flesh as a tiny, helpless, vulnerable infant body born to family who will protect his body by running away to Egypt and becoming refugees in a strange land. As this body grows into an adult, Jesus knows how precious his body is and he shows us throughout the gospels how bodies are not separate from the Good News. He heals sick bodies, he raises dead bodies, re-engages broken minds, and he even touches and washes other people’s feet to demonstrate how important bodies are to spreading the love and message of God. To Jesus, physical bodies are not detached from the spiritual, and to have a body is good.

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Jesus Loves Me

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While this campaign’s primary focus is to prevent bullying amongst children and adolescents, I think this is a wonderful reminder that bullying in any age group is wrong, and church bullying is the number one reason so many people have been disenfranchised and/or disenchanted with Christianity. Bullying seems to progress with age into the more subtle forms of manipulation and brainwashing in the adult population. Sometimes it takes on more violent forms through abuse of children, marriage, and adult relationships, road rage, and terrorism.

As a child I was bullied severely. My first experience with a bully was in 3rd grade in Gonzales, TX. My family had just moved from a racially inclusive subdivision of Houston to a small town. My best friends in Houston were Methodist, Baptist, Black, White, Female, and Male. Gonzales hopefully has progressed since my childhood, but in the mid-eighties, it was an extremely racially, economically, and denominationally divided town. As a new kid who never had problems making friends, I immediately was called out by a much taller and bigger black girl, Latisha, who wanted to fight me simply because of my skin color. She and her friends waited for me day after day at the crosswalk hoping to beat me up. I would sneak behind the crossing guard as I crossed the street safely to the church preacher house where I lived. My parents coached me to be her friend, and “kill her with kindness.” My parents spoke with the school, and most of the bullying ceased. Latisha and I eventually became friends, and she even hugged me the day I checked out of school in 6th grade to move to Eldorado, TX. Latisha is a survivor of a long heritage of bullying in the name of slavery.

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Stop Doing It Your Own Way

My Wednesday Night class of 4 year old children – 4th Grade have been studying the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5:1-15 the last two weeks. We will spend one more Wednesday night with Naaman, yet I feel like I could spend a whole year with the story. There is so much good in Naaman’s story. As you recall, he’s a man with quite a bit of authority as the commander of the army for the king of Aram. “He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” 1 Kings 5:1 This man was someone who gave orders, who through his leadership had earned the respect of his King and those he led into battle, and because of his position in life is not accustomed to needing help from other people. Now, he has an infectious skin disease, leprosy, and has become completely helpless. His world has turned upside down.

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on the journeybaby dedication

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McKinney at Cardinal
101 Cardinal Drive
Denton, TX 76209
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8:30 - Worship
9:45 - Classes
11:00 - Worship

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5:30 - Dinner
6:30 - Passion Worship
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6:30 - Celebrate Recovery

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