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Wednesday, November 7th 2007

10:53 AM

My Prayer Bucket and Yours

Ok, this blog is becoming more of a monthly exercise than a weekly one.  I have been so tired and so busy during the month of October.  My 25th anniversary of my ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament went by on October 31 and no one noticed.  I am kind of disappointed about that...

Anyway, today is my monthly retreat day at St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, MI.  And boy, I can tell you all that I certainly do appreciate the chance to get away for a while.

I don't usually do this, but I grabbed a hold of a NT and Psalms and simply opened the Bible up to wherever it would.  I landed on John 4 where Jesus comes to the Samaritan woman at well.  He is so tired and so thirsty.  He asks her for a drink of water.  She tells him that the well is deep but he has no bucket to draw the water with.

That's where it hit me like a ton a bricks,  Jesus got tired...Jesus got thirsty...Jesus had to stop every now and then and just drink deeply and rest.  Gee, maybe I should do this more often too.

The well is deep but I need a bucket.  God's resources are endless, but I need faith and prayer to receive them.  My prayer life (or lack of it) is my bucket.

So, today I am dipping my bucket in God's well and drinking and resting and not feeling one bit guilty about it.  How about you?






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Monday, October 8th 2007

7:07 PM

life in sept and oct for pastor jim

  • Mood:
It has been a good while since I have posted an entry in my blog.  Like most parents of school-aged children, September was a blur for me.  Don't get me wrong, good stuff has been happening!

I thank God for every day, even the busy ones...

Our family has been getting used to the idea of not having Zoe (our dog) with us.  The Lord has blessed us all with good health, good friends, and a good church family here at Jackson First Pres.

I am really pleased with the Monday afternoon class that I have been leading that has an attendance of 15-16 as we discuss together the really well-done NOOMA DVDs by Rob Bell that deal with issues of Christian discipleship.

God has recently blessed our church with a $75,00 bequest that will enable us to do some things around the church and mission outside.

I am also thankful that our Monday class has adopted a women's Bible study group that meets in the women's prison in Plymouth, MI.  We are purchasing Life Recovery Bibles and shipping them to the women who are recovering from their addictions and who desperately need God's Word and love.  If it can be worked out, there will be a penpal relationship that our Bible study group will have with their Bible study group.  Even though Jackson is sometimes nicknamed, "The Prison City", our church has done little prison ministry historically.  I am grateful for the moving of the Spirit in this.

This past Sunday, October 7, I preached as part of a pulpit exchange at the North Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo.  North Pres is a small, inner city church that reaches out to folks who don't fit in to your traditional blue-collar church--persons with disabilities, the chronically mentally ill, the impoverished, people with little or no education. 

Even though the worship service there was one hour and 35 minutes long (Holy Communion AND Holy Baptism), and without AC on rare 90 degree day in October, I left there feeling refreshed and amped up by the spirit of love and mercy I experienced.  The time flew by!

Pastor Linda MacDonald from North Presbyterian of Kalamazoo will be coming to our church to preach on November18 when she brings her handbell choir.  This is a very special handbell choir.  You do not need to read music to play.  Pastor Linda has colored flash cards that the ringers follow when the color of their bell is flashed.  What fun!

Blessings to all of you who read this blog...pj

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Wednesday, August 15th 2007

10:39 AM

The Value of a Dog's Life in One Family

Dear Friends,

Last night we had some church friends over to our house for dinner.  Later that evening after they had left, our family dog, Zoe, came to me with the saddest eyes and with great distress.  She was in pain and uttered a terrible moan that would not stop.  Her stomach was bloated and we took her to  the Blackman Animal Clinic around midnight.  Dr. Pat met us there.  He was such a kind and wonderful person to show up in our family's hour of need.

We left Zoe in Dr. Pat's capable hands.  It turned out that after x-rays were done that Zoe had a twisted stomach that dogs sometime get.  He gave her various conservative treatments, and she seemed to be better in the morning.  However, as the morning progressed she worsened and her vital signs weakened.

When Alex and I came by around 10:30 a.m. today she was once again in distress and we made the terrible yet only decision to release her from this life.   If "His eye is on the one sparrow that falls" as Jesus has said, then certainly God sees and cares about every creature He has made great and small.

Do dogs have an "eternal life"?  Is there a Dog Heaven? The Scripture is almost silent on this account...

The writer of Ecclesiastes says in 3:19-21, "For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth?"

You could just as easily turn that question around, "Who knows whether the spirit of animals goes upwards?'  Is there a "Dog Heaven" seems to be an open if not leading question assuming a positive response based on this.  I do know that the Bible paints one picture of heaven as the "Peaceable Kingdom" at the end of time when the "lion will lie down with the lamb."

Zoe, I love you.  You are a good dog, a very good dog.  You loved me and everyone in our family unconditionally for 14 years as no human has the capacity to do.  I hope, I really, really hope that when I see the Lord Jesus one day that I will see you there by his side too with your tail wagging and your big dog smile!

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Wednesday, July 25th 2007

6:19 PM

Why Harry Potter Is Good for Your Soul

My family and a couple of other First Pres families recently went to see the latest Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" at the Lansing IMAX.  Before the beginning of the movie on of the teenage members of those families leaned over to me and asked, "Pastor Jim, why is it that some churches don't want their members reading Harry Potter books and seeing Harry Potter movies?"

I did not have to think long to make the response, "Because these same churches don't want their church members to learn how to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions about the books they read!"

Some churches want to keep their people dumb.  J.K. Rowling (author of the 7 Harry Potter books in case you didn't know!) has done more to develop the vocabularies and reading skills of the young readers in my house more than any other author.

Not only this, but these books and subsequent movies have fed the imaginations of the members of my family and so many other members. 

I confess here and now that I am NOT a "true believer" when it comes to Harry Potter, I have only read the first book though I have seen all five movies.  Other members of my family are "true believers".  The other night I overheard a discussion when someone asked, "Didn't it make you sad in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when "So and So" died?" 

I unwisely interjected myself into the conversation, "Aw, come on, this is only a stupid book, you can't REALLY be sad when an imaginary character in book dies?"

I tell you, I got the worst stare and verbal tongue-lashing, "You are not a TRUE BELIEVER!"

Well, maybe not, but what I can say is that THANK GOD I belong to a church where we can read anything we want and make up our own minds about it!  When it comes right down to it, I believe that Harry Potter is good for your soul because it strengthens and feeds the imagination with such lively characters and plot lines though convoluted they are.

Imagination is necessary to capture our minds and feed our spiritual development. Imagination is a kind of faith. Any material that directs our imagination and gets us thinking about good and evil, friendship, sacrificing self for a greater good is worthy of our consideration.  The more that we can imagine these things that occur in the abstract in Harry Potter and other good literature, the better prepared we are to act on these in our own lives when the time comes. 

Harry Potter is good for your soul!


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Thursday, July 19th 2007

4:58 AM

If you wish to leave a comment...

I hope to be updating this blog at least on a weekly basis.  I have understood that from at least two persons that there have been some problems in leaving a comment.  If you would like to leave a comment and receive an error code that prevents you from doing so, please email Jennifer at jenw@jacksonfirstpres.com stating the exact nature and error message that you are receiving.  We will do our best to get this problem corrected.

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Monday, July 16th 2007

7:14 AM

Home from Massenetta!

Well, all nine of us made it back from Massanetta. It took us 11.5 hours to travel the nearly 600 miles from Massanetta to Jackson, but it was well worth it! I am sure glad that I wrote my sermon for tomorrow a week ago

The last day at Massanetta Springs Middle School Conference 2007 was a half day. We woke up (some of us woke up-some of had to be woken up by the girls!!) around 7 a.m. to pack and then go to breakfast. After breakfast we finished packing, loading the vans, and cleaning our rooms. Some of us went to the Hotel Lobby to buy final parting souvenirs.

We then went to our respective "Encounter Groups" (small groups of 8-10) that we had been in all week long. We wrote affirmations for one another to take home, shared email and My Space addresses as well as filling out an evaluation for the whole week, and then ended with a prayer and a group hug.

The final worship service was awesome! It was more low key than the previous ones through the week. It was very Reformed yet 21st Century as well. I can't say it LOUDLY enough that you can still be Presbyterian and Reformed in worship while also responsibly using the technology that is available today without causing a distraction, but rather enhancing worship!!! Hey, we didn't even have to use bulletins and yet we still worshipped deeply.

In worship there was Holy Communion by intinction, confession of sins (new words that were sung to an old tune from the 1800's), reading of scripture, a message from the keynote speaker.

Our seven Middle Schoolers ARE the backbone of tomorrow's Senior High Group. We as parents and adult members of our church need to be "their Number One Fans". We need to remember that they are still kids going through lots of changes in their bodies and their lives in a changing culture. They were great! Massanetta was great, and I hope that we do it again next year.

As a group, the nine of us ( 7 Middle Schoolers + 2 Adult Chaperones) got closer to each other, grew in God's grace together, played, laughed, cried, and was God's family together.

God is Good!


The MSMSC 2007 students were:
Talore Ellis
Stephanie Hegedus
Shantika Bates
Morggan Frankila
Hunter Arms
Jae Oliver
Trae Oliver

The MSMSC 2007 chaperones were:
Lynndy Frankila
pj (Pastor Jim Hegedus)

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Friday, July 13th 2007

6:58 AM

Massanetta Moments

Massanetta Moments Wednesday:

Yesterday’s theme was "sealed". Alan the keynoter used film clip from the Lion King, Spiderman, and a dramatized reading from Dr. Seuss’ "Sneetches" to illustrate how the ways that we label each other in culture and especially in the world of Junior Highs is silly and often hurtful.

We were challenged to find the hero inside each of us. Just as Moses when he encountered God at the burning bush was reluctant to go back to Egypt to set his people free, if we listen to God’s call on our lives God will give us the strength and direction to find that hero.

Last night we did a scavenger hunt in the dark where the items we collected as a church group will be part of a care package for a back-to-school kit for needy kids. During our back home devotional time together before we went to bed we brainstormed together on how we can be heroes back in our own communities by delivering these kits to folks who need them.

During our back home devotional time I challenged each of our Middle Schoolers to share who in their lives was THEIR "Number One Fan". The range of responses were diverse.

Massanetta Moments Thursday:

Today’s theme is "delivered". We heard from the book of Exodus God telling Moses, "I have heard their (children of Israel) cries and I will come down to deliver them."

In our theme/worship time Alan addressed the theme of "delivered from" by using a number of video clips and vignette/skits done by the counselors. We saw very moving and funny clips from High School Musical ("Stick to the Status Quo" song), Freedom Riders (the Line Game scene), and Finding Nemo.

We were reminded that God promises to come and deliver us. Each of us then went to be with our own Encounter Groups to discuss the issues raised and then we split off into our different workshops that elaborated on the subthemes of the main theme for the week.

The afternoon is recreation time when we will all gather at very tall hill (taller than the Cascades sledding hill) to do "Slip and Slide". KOWABUNGA!

…OK, I am now back from the "slip and slide". What a blast! They had a 50 yard piece of industrial strength plastic stretched out over a hill with water and soap running down it. For a while I had the longest slide that went about 10 yards beyond the end of the slide.

My roommate Woody decide to try it. He is a very BIG guy and rotund around the middle, but somehow when he dove face first he landed on his face and got a bloody nose that would not stop bleeding. After 40 minutes he was taken to the hospital for x-rays to make sure that nothing was broken. I was just a few persons behind him and I took it as a sign from God that I should stop my slip and sliding. I still held the record though for the longest slide for the over 40 crowd!

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Thursday, July 12th 2007

6:39 AM

Today was another great day at Massanetta Springs! We really immersed ourselves in the theme for week for the Middle Schoolers, "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered". The worship services have been a nice blend of Reformed theology and worship using a lot of creative video storytelling to deliver the message. Our Junior High kids were challenged by the keynote speaker to remember that they are children of God and that no matter how the world tries to brand and market to them that their identity is first in Christ. Again, there were lots of good energizers, praise choruses, and even an old time Presbyterian favorite, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" sung at our worship/theme time.

The kids now are all worn out and asleep which is where I am headed now...


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Wednesday, July 11th 2007

6:43 AM

Massanetta Moments

Yes, we all made it safe and sound to Massannetta Springs. The last 100 miles of our trip was on US 33 through West Virginia and Virginia. It was both the most beautiful and at the same time the longest 100 miles that I have ever driven through the mountains. It truly was as the song says, "Almost Heaven". Also thank heaven that we will be going back a different way Friday afternoon that is flatter and less "rugged".

We left Bethany Presbyterian Church near Pittsburgh a little before 9 a.m. It was about 45 miles into the trip that the two minivans were separated. We eventually hooked up again with each other at the West Virginia Welcome Center on I-79. When we stopped at Wendy's in Elkins, WV it was kind of funny how hard of a time the Michiganders and West Virginians had in communicating with each other. We are definitely in "Y'all Country" now!

The Junior Highs are behaving very well and having a great time at the same time. At our "back home meeting" at the end of the day Lynddy and I "laid down the law" again about IPODS and cellphone use for the Junior Highs. The Massanetta leadership made it abundantly clear to us as adult leaders that this week of conference was also to be intentionally a retreat from our culture as well and these items were off limits.

Tonight we all shared about our "baggage" that we took with us from Jackson--concerns about family, friends, moving, the return trip, and we asked God to help us lay it aside for the time we are here. Our group is starting to build a real cohesiveness.

Tonight after back home devotions and before lights out I took our entire group down to the springs for which Massanetta Springs is named. It is an underground spring with the clearest, coldest water that bubbles up. It is first put through a filtration system before it flows into an open pool and eventually into a stream where folks can dip their feet and fill their water bottles. The kids were really fascinated by this "living water". Most likely I will take them down there again to do devotions on Jesus as the "living water".

Until Tomorrow,





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Tuesday, July 10th 2007

7:13 AM

Massanetta Junior High Trip

Monday, July 9:

We left the parking lot of Jackson's First Presbyterian Church around 11:15 a.m. There are 9 of us going to the PCUSA's denominational conference for Junior High youth all around the country. We made it to Pittsburgh with only one stop. We are spending the night at a church in Bridgeville, PA just south of Pittsburgh by about 10 miles. It is the Bethany Presbyterian Church and it s just off I-79. Jenni did a great job in choosing this place for us to stay. We got there about 5:15 p.m.

The church is an old congregation in a new building (2005). We are sleeping in the Youth Room tonight. There are showers just around the corner from us. Wouldn't be great if Jackson First could add some of these? There is a gym for which I am glad. It gives all of us an opportunity to get out our pent up energy from 6 hours in a car! I shot hoops with Jae and Trae and played a little volleyball with Stephanie.

We drove into Pittsburgh tonight to eat dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse. What a great place! We have been there before when we took groups to the Pittsburgh Project. Jae and Trae got to eat for 99 cents each because Monday night is Kid's Night and if you order from the Kid's Menu you get to have anything on it for 99 cents!

Tomorrow we leave around 9 a.m. for Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center. I am hoping that everyone will get air conditioned rooms. The drive ahead of us is about 150 miles or 3 hours and we will stop for lunch somewhere along the way.

It looks like our two 8th graders, Stephanie and Talore are already asleep....zzzzzzzzz

I am so glad that I got a GPS for Father's Day as a present from my family. It has already come in so handy. Pittsburgh is the city of bridges and it is so easy to get lost after entering downtown coming through the tunnel.

The Bethany Presbyterian Church is so NICE and hospitable to us. They are bringing us donuts in the morning for breakfast. I had a nice talk with the pastor, Rev. Dan Hrach (pronounced "Rock"). I bet that he has heard a lot of jokes about his name in his time...

Well, the batteries in my brain are r u n n i n g d o w n GOODNIGHT--pj (AKA Pastor Jim)

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