Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Road to Life...

So when I was a kid, we had this stupid sister-imposed rule called "own places."  That meant that when we were taking a trip in our 1970 Dodge Coronet (actually ours was a four door in Burnt Orange Metallic...with vinyl seats...) my sisters would yell "own places" and that meant we had to sit in our assigned seats in the back.  Felicia, the eldest and self-appointed boss, sat on the left side by the window.  Brenda, who is a ridiculous 3 minutes older than me but who lords it over me as if it were decades, sat on the right side by the window.  That meant that my spot was, you guessed it, in the middle, on the "hump."  (Please refer to 70's vintage rear wheel drive cars for a point of reference, all you youngin's)

The blessing in that was I had a great vantage point to watch dad drive....left arm on the window and right hand at twelve o'clock on the wheel.  It drove me nuts to see him always moving that right hand slowly back and forth as we drove along, even on a straight road.  So I finally spoke up one day to ask why he couldn't just hold the wheel straight.  He explained that the art of driving a car is that you're always correcting...at any given time you're heading slightly to the right or to the left, and that the trick was to be aware of that and be in the process of correction.

Now that has become a bit of a metaphor for my life.  You know, Jesus said that the road to life is a narrow road...and I think He might mean that as we walk through this life, we're on a journey, in a process.  The trick is to keep moving, and to be always correcting...seeking to keep our eyes and our life focused on Jesus.

So what's my point?  As usual, I'm not sure!  But I think to say that life is a process.  That we need to be always correcting our path.  That we need to be staying out of the ruts.  That the road to life is exactly that...it's a road.  Ya, that's probably it.

Oh yeah, and that sisters are bossy...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Times with John and B.I.G.

So I'm out on the bike the other day and I get lost and end up stopping a Sheetz for some "Cupoccino" to warm up.  As I'm standing there in the warm sun enjoying the day and good beverage, these two guys get out of this beat-up old 80's vintage Buick two door and walk over to me.  They began a conversation with me, or should I say two conversations?

You see the one guy, whose name is John, begins asking me all kinds of questions...most of them twice!  He asked my name and told me his and we talked for like 20 minutes about the bike, his job, life stuff.  It was pretty obvious that he wasn't the "brightest bulb in the pack." 

Then there was BIG...short for Brain Injury Guy.  He began having a completely separate conversation with me all the while I was talking to John.  He told me how glad he was that I wore a helmet because he had suffered a brain injury in a car accident when he was 19 and how horrible it was.  John probably wasn't too smart, but BIG made him look like a Harvard guy.  BIG told me about only having one eye, and that his head hurt so bad on sunny days that even that "vicadin stuff" didn't help.  And he went on and on, as John was going on and on...

Finally, they said goodbye...John called me by name...and they walked over to their car (out of which they sold frozen fish...for a living...I swear I'm not making this up!).  John got in the passenger seat and BIG got in to drive...brain injury, blindness, vicadin, and all!  My first thought was, get outta here fast before they have the chance to kill me!  My second thought was, I just met Dumb and Dumber! 

But as I drove away, I was humbled by some prayerful conclusions.  1 Samuel 16:7 came to mind in which we're reminded that "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."   I thought about their hearts...they were obviously best friends.  They took time... a lot time...to take an interest in me, to learn my name, to share a few minutes of life.  They were loving, fun, polite, kind, and engaging. 

My final thoughts were this...I hope I get to see them again, and soon.  Because in the parking lot of that Sheetz, in the hearts of two "strange"rs, I think I met Jesus...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I was talking with a friend the other day and he was talking about the freedom we have in Christ and how awesome it is.  You know, I have known this truth for years...in my head.  But something about the passion in his voice and his testimony to me had a huge impact on me and I haven't been able to get the notion out of my head since then. 

We are free...Galatians 5:1 says that "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."   I believe that He desires us to be free...and how awesome it is when we are.  Free from debt.  Free from sin.  Free from fear.   Free from the expectations of others.  Free from ourselves.  Free to love.  Free to be like Him.  What has He freed you from?  Better yet, what has He freed you for?  Whatever it is, be free today.  And remember the conclusion to the story in Galatians 5...from verse 13: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love..."

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Announcement...

If you worshiped with us at Cornerstone on Sunday, October 18th then you have already heard this news, but I wanted to put it into writing for those who were not able to be with us. 
About six years ago, Carla and I began to pray about a new direction that we felt God was leading our ministry.  We have served the Lord in pastoring a church for 13 1/2 years now and have been blessed to be able to serve Him in this way.  However, we have been increasingly convinced that He has a new ministry direction for us, and particularly for me (Brett).  I don’t know exactly what kind of direction He is taking me, but I do know that in order for me to seek that out with honesty and integrity, I must announce that I am going to step down from pastoring Cornerstone Church .

I am willing to serve as your pastor here through the end of the appointment year, which is through June 2010, provided God doesn’t open other doors for us or for Cornerstone.  I know this might seem to be an unusual approach by telling you now and continuing to serve as your pastor.  However, I believe that Cornerstone is at crossroads that provides for huge and exciting new possibilities.  I do not want to lead us through a planning time that assumes to involve me when I know I won’t be a part of it through the long term.  Also, I don’t want to announce that I’m leaving and let Cornerstone to deal with that alone.  I think it is much more honest and productive for us to work through this all together.

Although I am uncertain about many things as Carla and I go forward, let me tell you a few things of which I believe we are certain.  First of all, I am not going to pastor another United Methodist Church …the Conference is not “moving me on.”  Secondly, I am not going to pastor a church in another denomination.  I simply feel that God has a calling for ministry that isn’t leading a church, but is more a mission.

Secondly, we plan to stay in the area, at least for now.  Carla has a stable employment situation, and we feel that it is wise for her to maintain that while my ministry is in transition.  I am beginning to write my resume, and I am feeling called to some kind of ministry where I will work with people groups that are unchurched and may never hear of or see the love of Jesus unless Christians go and take Him there.  I may work with a mentoring ministry, homeless ministry, children of incarcerated parents, prison ministry, or something like that….again some kind of “missions” ministry, but here locally.

Most of all, please know this.  I am not leaving for a better offer.  I wanted to announce this now so that I can begin to search those things out with integrity.  Also, I’m not leaving because I dislike being a pastor.  I love it, but I know God has something different in store next.  And we are unsure of exactly where He is leading us; just that we know He is calling us to leave this venture and step out to where He is taking us…a ministry that He will show us.  (Genesis 12:1)

Lastly, know that I have great hopes for Cornerstone.  The Leadership Team is a very capable group of solid Christians who have supported me in this because they know that God has big things in store for Cornerstone.  Please pray for us all as we continue to seek God’s face and will for Cornerstone Church of Cranberry and for our lives as individuals. 

in the love of Jesus,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And Now Please Bow Your Heads and Mow

So last evening I had free time (yippee!) and Carla was working (bummer!) so I mowed the lawn.  I know that sounds crazy, especially since the last time I mowed the back yard it was so high that i had to put the bagger on and empty it, and I swear I'm not making this up, EVERY SINGLE TIME I MADE A LAP AROUND THE YARD!!!!  (Don't tell dad.)  But I thought, hey, what if I mowed more often....maybe it might be easier when I did.  And it was.

But alas, this hain't about mowing.  My point is this...as I was mowing, I was reminded of how I do my best praying when I'm doing something else.  Maybe I'm ADHD...maybe I'm crazy...maybe it's just how God wired me.  But as I was mowing, I was having an awesome conversation with the Guy who made the grass!  I was able to share some things on my heart from the day, and I was able to hear Him speak some things I needed to know.  So Lord, help me to use the mundane activities of life as opportunities to spend time with you...

...and now, please bow your heads and rake...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Be Creative!

So I'm not very creative.  I can't draw.  I can't paint.  I can't write songs.  I can't sculpt.  I swear when I do crafts.  Get the picture?

But I believe that we're created in the image of God...and He is the Creator!  Just think of the imagination He must have to conceive of this world (and just look at Fall on the slopes of the Western Pennsylvania mountains if you don't believe me...).  He is Creative, Creator...and we are made like Him.

So I guess I'm feeling challenged to be a little creative...perhaps with my humor, perhaps with my messages or my writing, perhaps with my guitar...idk, but I'm thinking that creativity and imagination spur a deeper connection to the Almighty...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cough, cough...

So I'm still coughing...even though I'm done (I hope) with the swine flu.  But as I'm coughing, I'm remembering one of my favorite stories from childhood.  See, we were in second grade and I had a cough.  So mom sent me to school with Smith Brothers cough drops (see picture.  BTW, why did they come 17 in a box?  Like did the Smith Brothers have a thing for prime numbers?!).

Well, my twin sister Brenda wanted some cough drops.  And I wouldn't give her any (now this was with good reason...see the picture, Brenda:  They're MEDICATED.  This is a SPECIAL FORMULA!  They are not candy!!!).  So after our bathroom break (the bathrooms were upstairs in the old Salix school where we only had 1st-3rd grade and no cafeteria), Brenda loudly fake-coughed the whole way down the stairs. 

It didn't work.