Last week I shared an article in Byfield’s Facebook Group from The Atlantic about the impact technology is having on young people in our culture. As a parent of 4 young boys, I think a lot about the role technology will play in their lives. Daily life in 2017 highlights the tremendous benefits and terrifying downsides of technology. It saves lives but also ruins marriages. We can talk to friends across the world for free on video but rarely interact with our neighbors.
Christians must recognize that modern technologies are not neutral tools. Tremendous good and bad can be accomplished with any tool; smartphones, social media, apps and other technologies are no exception. As with any tool, you must be wise in your use. This is no less true of a smartphone than it is of a chainsaw.
Most people still reading this are probably adults. In the back of your mind you’re probably thinking, ‘Yep, these kids really need to get off their phones.’ While that is certainly true, I find adults are often just as bad if not worse. We need to think about how we use these incredibly powerful tools that we walk around with in our pockets. If you do not you will end up hurting yourself and others.
P.S. Thank-you to Sharon Trudell for all she does.
Last Sunday I was spending some vacation time in Tennessee with my family. After attending the early church service my family headed for a local lake with four of Ann’s brothers and 11 of our nieces and nephews! After spending some time tubing and knee boarding we went cliff jumping. My second son, Levi, bravely jumped off the 20+ foot cliff. Unfortunately his form wasn’t great. When he hit the water he was looking down with his arms and legs were splayed out. For those of you who have never been cliff jumping this is not the ideal way to hit the water.
I share this story because it struck me as a good analogy for how Christians often live out their faith. Even when we take a leap of faith in our life we are often like Levi. We may jump, but we don’t trust. We feel the need to protect ourselves. Not fully trusting is counterproductive. The result or our lack of faith are worse outcomes. You can’t live the Christian life halfway. If you’re going to make the leap you better be all in.
On a different note I am really excited about Byfield Parish Church right now. As I have enjoyed time with family I have found myself thinking a lot about the opportunities we have as a community to reach our neighbors. One of the ways we can impact our area is by creating a welcoming environment on Sunday mornings. With this in mind a Welcome Team is forming this Summer that will be led by Jane Spellman. I look forward to seeing how this team makes us more effective in our efforts to love everyone that comes through our doors beginning in September. If you would like to participate reach out to Jane for more info.
P.S. THank-you to the Deacons at Byfield for all the do.
Last week was the final Summer barbeque at the YMCA camp in Rowley. Ann, the kids, and I had a great time as usual. When we got back in the car Ann shared a funny story. While she was getting food a woman from the church came up to her and introduced herself. After exchanging pleasantries the woman asked who Ann had come with. While the woman had seen Ann on Sundays she didn’t recognize her in a non-Sunday environment. Ann awkwardly said that she came with her husband, the pastor. Both the woman and Ann had a good laugh.
I share this story to highlight the behavior of the lady. This is exactly what we should all be doing. We are often so worried about looking silly or not knowing what to say that we do nothing. The woman who initiated a conversation with Ann deserves credit for going out on a limb. We all need to be a little more willing to go out on a limb sometime to build the church.
THis Summer my wife, Ann, and I have been on a bit of a puzzle kick. Over the weekend she pulled out a puzzle she had recently purchased from Amazon. It was 500 pieces. The image it portrayed was of an old town sitting on a canal. We enjoyed working on it for about the first 376 pieces. At that point, we had filled in all the buildings and water. What remained of the puzzle was the sky. The sky seemed impossible to piece together. There was no rhyme or reason to it; just a blue and white mess. For a couple of days, the puzzle sat on our table. We would pass by intermittently and try to fit a piece here or there. Periodically we would get lucky and find a match. The puzzle became the bane of our existence, a problem that we had no desire to deal with.
Eventually, we came up with a plan. We divided the pieces on the basis of shape. We then went through and tried each piece of a particular shape in a single spot where that shape might fit. By systematically approaching the problem we were able to finish the puzzle.
This story could be an analogy for many things in our life: Work, family, friendships, etc. For me, it is an analogy for faith. There are times when faith goes from being an enjoyable exercise that feels like it is getting somewhere to a confused mess with no apparent direction forward. At times like this, the conviction that carries us forward is the belief that our Creator has an ultimate picture in mind that we cannot see in the midst of the struggle. To complete that image we must continue to be faithful in spite of the progress that seems elusive.
P.S. THank-you to Bob Libert, Nathan Hunter, John Horne, Cedric Miner, and Peter Grifoni for their work on Sunday mornings with the media team. You guys do incredibly important work.
Some weeks are crazier than others. For me, this week is a crazy one. Family responsibilities, work, and Summer fun all add up to a pretty hectic life. These all sound a bit like first-world problems I know. During these chaotic times, it is easy to quit the routines that keep us grounded. Working out, cleaning the house, reading to the kids, and spending quiet time with God all take a back seat to the demands of the moment.
The first thing that falls off is often time with God. Unlike our homes, nobody can see the spiritual junk that builds up. There is not a Summer reading program managed by the local library that keeps us on schedule in our faith. We don’t notice the lack of spiritual endurance that ensues in the same way we do when we quit working out. The challenge for me this week is prioritizing time with God in the midst of the mess. It may sound like one more thing to do, but spending time with God is actually a routine that thrive instead of just survive.
I want to thank all the volunteers for Vacation Bible School at Byfield this week. I think we have around 70 kids which is awesome. It is great to see the joy and excitement these little ones bring to everything they do.
I hope everyone had a fantastic July 4th. If you are anything like me celebrating a holiday on a Tuesday threw off your whole week. Minda Fowler, the secretary here at Byfield, just walked into my office to ask if I had the Pastor’s Corner for this week’s email. I had totally forgotten. I am reminded that while it is nice to have break-up the routine of a normal week it is also disruptive in problematic ways.
Here in New England, the whole Summer feels a bit disruptive. As I enjoy the beautiful days and nights it is easy to let the routines that benefit my life slip. I find this to be especially true of my relationship with God. Daily time with God can easily be forgotten about amidst all the fun. The challenge for myself and each of you is for this to be a time where the joys of Summer provide fertile ground for our daily pursuit of God to flourish. If you are reading this on Facebook comment below on what resources you use in your devotional life.
P.S. Thank-you to Chuck Davis for working the grill at last night’s Summer bar-b-que.
One of the great things about being a pastor is getting to meet with people. Over the past couple of months, I have gotten to know many of you better. I look forward to deepening those relationships and getting to know others that I have only had limited interactions with so far. When I hear about the lives of the people that attend this church I am consistently surprised to hear how God has worked. Oftentimes when you walk into a church it seems like everybody is pretty much the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each person has had their unique joys and tragedies. For me, there’s comfort in knowing that we are all different yet all the same in Christ whatever our stories might be.
This week is the second Dessert at the Fugate’s. Sign-ups have been great. We are now full through August. It is also the second to last week of our “Journey to Joy” sermon series through Philippians. For me this book has flown by, hopefully, you feel the same. This Summer we will be moving through some of the less well-known stories of the Old Testament. Sometimes these narratives feel more like a rated R movie than anything that should be in the Bible. It is awesome to see that just as God was at work in the joys and tragedies that occurred 3,000 years ago he is at work in our own lives.
The shooting in Washington D.C. earlier this week and my own sermon prep remind me to consider a biblical truth: Words Matter. God spoke the world into existence through words, John describes Jesus as the Word. Each day we are all exposed to thousands of spoken and written words. The words we listen to shape us. They affect the way we live our lives. Much of what we hear on commercials, talk radio, from our friends, and elsewhere contradicts God’s words spoken through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
Just as we are shaped through what we hear the words we speak shape others. They also shape us. We need to be aware of the impact our words are having. Not just what we mean, but how those words are understood by others. The person you speak to more than any other is yourself, you are constantly talking to yourself. What you say affects how you live. Your words should be salt and light to others and to yourself.
P.S. Thank-you to all those that work with the Byfield’s youth and children. It was great to see God at work last Sunday.