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seven months

Seven Months.  It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been seven months since I’ve even considered posting a blog on this site. I’ve been distracted.

 

My life is somewhat different now. Patti and I live in Sundance, Wyoming. I now pastor two United Methodist Churches. One is in Sundance, and the other is in Upton.  Upton is about 30 miles from Sundance, and about seven hours north of Colorado Springs. I preach in both churches every Sunday, and that has a lot to do with my abandonment of this blog site. Honestly, I spend most of my words every week in serving the local church. I only have so many words, and I am trying to make them count here, where we have been planted.

It might be another seven months before I blog again.  Who knows?  But I feel compelled to make an offering to the social media gods (I still can’t make up my mind whether they’re friend or foe) based upon that thing that happens to me when I hear, read, or experience something that demands my conscience to “re-tell” it, or “put it out there,” only after I’ve taken time to process the encounter. I’ll tee this up quickly and then get to the point.

I’ve been preaching through material that I feel is imperative for a basic understanding of what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Since serving in my new positions in Wyoming, I’ve preached 34 times.  But all of those messages have had something to do with ekklesia (church), or discipleship. Something that Jesus supposedly said about the latter is recorded in the gospels. I think it’s fairly profound:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25 NASB)

I have no idea how this verse affects you, but for me, every alarm on the discipleship dashboard starts flashing its hot red glow every time I read this passage.  After Jesus’ generous invitation to become followers, we’re given three key components of what that “followship” entails: He (she / we / all of us!) must deny himself (ourselves). STOP RIGHT THERE!

Deny ourselves? Really? That is step one? I don’t know if you’ve looked around lately, but that isn’t how we do things here. Deny self? Yeah, we’re mostly hosed in this department.

One of the foundational truths of the discipleship framework is the simple challenge that we don’t make our lives all about “ME.” This is blasphemy in our culture. Absolute blasphemy. There are glimpses of hope at times!  Unfortunately, social media isn’t the best place to look for evidence of our inner health. Yeah, it’s just my opinion.  But I have eyes.

So, let me get to the motivation for all of these words. A few mornings back, I read something from Oswald Chambers that made me squirm in my seat. I love being challenged by Oswald, but the reading that day went for the juggler on this whole notion of our lives being about “US.” Here is the caption that hammered my heart:

If you are going to be used by God, God will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in God’s hand, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. -Oswald Chambers

That, right there, is another way of telling us that when we make our lives about ourselves, we are missing, altogether, our purpose in putting forth our real identity in Christ. It matters.  Chambers’ comment should ignite something deep inside of us that reminds us what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Life doesn’t always cooperate with our own self-focus. The whole point of a costly redemption is to reverse the horrible into some kind of blessing, right? Loss happens to all of us. Death, despair, heartache, betrayal, and disappointment ­– they all resurface over and over and over again. Our pain and aches are real, and sometimes overwhelming, unbearable, and inner torture. But, losing the opportunity to be of use to someone else in need because our own torn soul demand that we focus all of our attention on ourselves, puts us at odds with the mechanics of “followship” with Jesus.

There are a lot of people in this world who have suffered unthinkable loss and grief. Those who have regained some semblance of real inner health are the ones who continue to walk through life without demanding that life (anyone or anything) owes them reparations. That which has been lost can never be replaced. But those wounds, and the healing that comes after we have grieved a loss, can be used to help heal others. The further we can move from a “ME” focus, the healthier we become. All of us. Every now and then, you meet someone who epitomizes what Chambers is laying down here. These are the giants among us. Rare air.

It’s not about me is only part of the discipleship infrastructure.  But it’s vitally important. Anyone not sucked into that vacuum is pretty easy to spot, but you might have to look for them in obscure places of great need.  Yeah, the places where Jesus would hang out.

Thanks for reading.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

BE GOOD AT LIFE!

Love you all,

Mike

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 7, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Mike,
    As a gentleman once told me ” I’m not much but I’m all I ever think of”.
    Really important thought in your writting. So glad your personality comes through in your God thoughts.
    I’m still in MN. Your always welcome brother.
    John Cashman
    Johnpcashman@yahoo.com

    • November 7, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you my brother. You never know when I’ll knock on your door. It will happen.

      Mike

  2. Dale West
    November 7, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Now that’s a good word right there, Mike.

  3. Betty Morgans
    November 7, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Glad to read this. We must look to Jesus and we will stop thinking ME and change the word to HE! Thank God for you an Patti. Keep your messages coming. Betty Morgans

  4. Ike griffith
    November 7, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Boy have I missed your meanderings as I read thru them I was reminded of Keith Peck and how I looked forward to his expositions and then realize that you’ve continued that ministry in my life keep them coming
    Love you Patti n your family
    Iker

  5. Kami Erland
    November 7, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Wise words Preacher Mike. I really miss you and Patti. I will be so glad when I gave Sunday mornings off again.

    • November 8, 2019 at 6:57 am

      You are missed Kami!

      Love you!

  6. Joyce Bentch
    November 7, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    God has made me laugh once again. When I read your latest blog and saw where you lived, well I lol.

    Here is why. When Sarah and Jon were born Kevin was preaching at Sundance Wy Church of Christ. We loved living in Sundance…..and knew the Methodist minister very well. We all were in a community musical together. We know quite a few folks that still live there. We return every now and then to visit.

    It does our hearts good to know God has brought you to Sundance to serve in the kingdom there. The town is in good hands with you and Patti there . Much love to you both.

    Joyce Bentch and family

    • November 8, 2019 at 6:56 am

      UNBELIEVABLE. Good to hear from you.

      Mike

  7. Lisa Spitzer
    November 8, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Yes…this!
    Hard truth…so important and so necessary!
    It allows us to become who He intended us to be.
    Thank you for serving the almighty. Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom online! I’m sharing this with others. Love to all Paschall’s!
    ♥️😘

    • November 8, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Thank you Lisa. Patti and I are grateful for your love and friendship!

      Blessings on you both.
      MDP

  8. Nicole Ricketts
    November 8, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Great to hear from you again!! Such a good word. Much love!

  9. Sue Fuhrmann
    November 8, 2019 at 11:27 am

    The way you touch my heart wakens my desire to try harder to be a better disciple. I feel blessed to have you as our pastor in Sundance, WY.

    • November 8, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      Sue… you are so kind. Thank you.

      Mike

  10. Carla R Greer
    November 10, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Glad you are back, love reading your message. Miss you my friend! Hugs and love to all.

  11. Gary McGinnis
    November 10, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Good one, Pastor Mike!

  12. Christi-An
    November 14, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Thank you!!! For sharing your words!!!!! They are right on time in speaking into my life as God has been asking me to die to “ME” a lot lately but also He has been showing me how, too!!!! You and Patti have been in my thoughts and prayers a lot since your move to Sundance!!! Thank you for your example!!! 🙂

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