Murph Notes

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Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm Melting!!!

Yesterday was the first day of Advent. I realize that many/most people in our world don't even know what Advent is. It is a 'season' of the church. It leads up to Christmas. It is a time when we, the people of God (the church), prepare. We prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus. We prepare by decorating, cooking, reading and studying. But we also prepare by cleaning house, for lack of better verbage. We get our hearts ready. We ask God to do for us what we cannot - cleanse us of our sins and change our hearts, turning them towards Him.

Today I was reading Psalm 46. Grab a Bible and read it sometime today or tomorrow. I love the first verse where the psalmist declares that God is a "present", and even more so, and "ever-present" help in time of trouble. In the midst of all the trouble in my life HE IS THERE! I love that. I know He holds my eternal life in His hands but I forget that He holds my present in His hands.Then in verse 6 it says He lifts His voice, the earth melts. When I read this I thought of the Wizard of Oz movie; the scene where the water lands on the wicked witch and as she disappears into the ground she yells "I'm melting!". God's very Voice can melt the entire earth.

I believe I shall trust Him with my past, tomorrows, and my present. I will bow my head in holy fear and awe and thank Him for being God.

Am I Ready?

My daughter yesterday told me she was working on a lesson for the teenagers. I thought this was interesting and asked her to tell me about it. She said she was thinking about using a tree to teach them about how we need God. Trees need water, sunshine and dirt (nutrition in the dirt she explained). And we, people that is, need the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She is working Which One should be represented by dirt.

I am amazed at the unbelievable amount of talent we have in our church. Last night we had a Hanging of the Greens service and it was just amazing. Today I am sad at how much of that talent we spend in/on worship that seems focused on making us feel good about ourselves and God and how little we spend on creating worship that draws people outside the church in and/or reaches and blesses our community. I don't mean to be overly critical of my church. I love them but I wonder what last night would have looked like if it had been planned for people outside of our church.

I was honored to sit with one of my teens in her living room yesterday and pray with her and her family. Her Grandma, who walked this earth 91 years, had passed away. She cried and told me how much her Grandma loved seeing her dance. Her mother told me how her Grandma made the stocking for this young lady that they had hung on the chimney that day.

I was honored to walk into an ICU put oil on a man's forehead and pray to my God that He would heal him and comfort his family while/as/before He did so. I then went and visited the family in a waiting room and saw 2 of my teens dealing with their Dad's collapse and recovery as best teens can. They told me how he finally woke up this morning and wanted a Diet Coke and someone to take him home. They laughed. I am grateful for their stories and hope.

Today I plan for a Christmas Party, Winter Retreat, Youth Staff Retreat, and Summer Mission Trips. I pause to read Psalm 46. I pause longer to dream of what I believe this ministry needs to look like in a couple of years. I need to get these dreams/plans on paper for my boss and for a meeting I have tomorrow with my Lay Leaders. I am reminded that Jesus could come back tonight.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Last night after youth group one of my new volunteer leaders asked me if I could stay after and talk with her for a couple of minutes. I did and she wanted to ask me for advice on a sermon she was writing and had to present for one of her classes Tuesday. I'm old. Here I was giving advice to a Duke Divinity student on sermon structure/content. It felt good but also weird.

Friday, November 18, 2005


This week has been interesting. The honeymoon is definently over at SFUMC. There are some serious political undercurrent rolling through my church right now and I want to stay above them. At the same time I want to dive down and grab some of my friends before they get washed away. I tried to do that yesterday and fear I may have put myself in harms way. I hope not.

Pilgrimage with 6000 teens rocked last weekend but also drained me. Here it is Friday and I still don't feel recovered. I want to rest and I need to write. I love my teens; they are neat little mixed up creatures that in a couple of years will not be recognizable to the me of today.

I have had no time with my family the past 2 weeks. This adds to my weariness I know. If I can just get through the staff meeting next Tuesday that grows more ominous with each passing day I will be allowed to flee to Buckeye land and love my family while my rents take care of us.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Grasping For ME

Today I was reading Philippians 2:5-11 and thinking about the word "grasped" in verse 6. The Greek word is more like clutched from what I have read and studied.

Life is messy and recently I have been managing conflict. I used to love conflict. I used to create it just for the thrill and rush. Now though, it just drains me.

As I viewed the conflict I am feeling with others in light of these verse I realize I am trying to hold onto with a iron like grip; I am "clutching" onto my rights and what I deserve.

Then I read verse 7 and my head drops, my heart remembers, and my spirit goes to peace. If I am to be Christ like then I must become nothing. I must put others above me in all and every way.

The only thing I deserve is separation from God and I do not want to clutch that. I must seek to serve humbly. I don't want to do this out of shear will or discipline though. I want this to be a heart thing.

As I look at the conflict I am facing I need God to change my heart. I need to grasp onto something other than me.

God make me a servant with a servants humble heart. Mold me to be love as you are Love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This morning I was reading Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and I thought of the scene in PT&A where Martin and Candy have to share a bed in a hotel and they wake up in the morning.

"That's not a pillow!"

As I reflected on the discussion in Growth groups last night I was thinking about how we are often meant to keep each other warm although not in the Martin/Candy way. I mean when I am cold from life it is my Christian brothers and sisters who bring warmth to my life with their words, deeds, smiles and presence.

We need to get serious about living life together. I was talking with a friend last night who a couple of months ago was struggling because he wanted Christian friends and it seemed like all the Christians in his school were saying they were Christians and living another way.

Enters a huge football player who befriends him and they are hanging together, supporting one another, encouraging one another.

They are defending one another and keeping each other warm in a cold world. Christian love does that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dream A Little Dream...

What would have happened had there not been Bev Kinder to invite me to that Amy Grant concert so long ago?

We are often shaped by small events that take on significance because of what comes after they occur not when, where or why they occur. I do not enter into every moment with that kind of expectation though.

My eyes do not focus on the Bev's of this world or look for the Steve Huddlestons. Experience is a teacher. I have not, however, been a very good student.

The past few days have been a collision of my emotional past and present. I look forward to my future hope squeezing out of it but for now I seem to be left with nothing but emotional aftermath.

I'm not numb. It is like I have been over extended and now I am so hypersensitive I have shut down out of sheer survival needs.

When I peak beneath the bandage I see the hurt and the longing for what was. I ache with just my lids barely open. But then there is the present and all it's glory; the fulfillment, of sorts. I want to roll in it and whip it up and ensure it is sustainable while still reveling in it.

No Bev, no concert....... and still there was, is and will be Love.

Love would not have let me miss the moment. It wasn't mine to secure or miss. It wasn't and still isn't about me.