• ReadTraces of Grace
    Oct. 14, 2021

    Thoughts from Pastor Scott

    First Methodist family,


    Yesterday afternoon we pulled out the carving kit, rounded up the boys, grabbed the pumpkins we had bought, and got down to business carving pumpkins. Now, we're not big Halloween people; we don't put up elaborate decorations or go to haunted houses or haunted hayrides, but we usually go trick or treating and we often carve pumpkins. Since the weather was so nice yesterday, we went outside to minimize the clean up.


    As the boys were busy working on their pumpkins, I was reminded of a book that Meg read to the boys one year called, "The Pumpkin Patch Parable." In this story, the author talks about how our tradition of carving pumpkins is like God's work in us. You may want to pick up a copy for yourself, but either way, here's the main idea:


    Just like we do with pumpkins, God comes and finds us. He buys us, picks us up, brushes the dirt off the outside, and brings us home. But He's not done with us yet. After bringing us home, he gets in there and scoops out all the yuck, He puts an image (His image) on us, and then puts a light inside to shine through us.


    It's a cute story, but it is a powerful truth. I don't think we stop and think about the work of God in our lives often enough. You have been chosen and redeemed by God. God has washed, purified, and forgiven you. God has sanctified (made holy) and is sanctifying your heart. And God wants to shine His light through the masterpiece He has created you to be. 


    Working with my boys yesterday, it was interesting to watch how each one of them responded to the "pumpkin guts" inside. One of them tried so hard to stay clean and uncontaminated, another dove right in and was squishing it around in his fingers, a third was determined to do it by himself but realized he couldn't get his pumpkin clean enough on his own. It's the same for us. Some of us don't want to deal with or acknowledge the yuck that's still inside us, others want to embrace it and say it's part of the human experience, still others of us try to clean ourselves up all on our own. But the reality is that God wants to come remove the sin and self, clean up our hearts, and remake us in His image so the light can shine out. And, only God can do it.


    Will you ask Him if there are any seeds or strings or "guts" still in your heart and, if so, will you ask Him to remove them? Then, let's ask where the darkness is that God wants to illuminate through the light He has put in us and shine there.


    Grace & Peace,

    -Pastor Scott

    1. ReadTraces of Grace
      Oct. 14, 2021

      Thoughts from Pastor Scott

      First Methodist family,


      Well, I had my MRI and I had my follow up visit with the Orthopedist. The good news is there is nothing structurally wrong with my knee! The bad news is there's no clear indication as to why I am experiencing pain where I am and there's no clear path forward. But that's like so much of life, isn't it? We know something isn't quite right, but we're not sure why and it feels like we're not getting the answers we are looking for. 


      It can be quite frustrating when we're talking about doctors, but how do we think about it when it's not a doctor who isn't giving us the answers we're looking for, but God. There have been times in my life, as I'm sure there have been in yours, when the way forward wasn't clear. We know we can't just stay where we are, but we don't know what we should do instead. 


      In times like this we need to seek the God who is the answer, rather than treating Him like the God who gives answers. We can get so caught up in trying to find the answer from God that we stop seeking God himself. So in those times when you feel like you're not getting the answer, lean into the things that draw you closer to God; read Scripture, pray, spend time in solitude, create something, worship, whatever draws you into His presence. And when you don't know what to do next, do the things you've already been told to do; serve others, love people, share your faith. 


      It's easy to get frustrated when we don't get the answers we're looking for, but I've found that when that happens it's often because I've gotten my priorities out of whack. Let's seek God's face, abide in His presence, obey what He has already told us to do, and trust that He will lead us forward in His time.


      Grace & Peace,

      -Pastor Scott

      1. ReadTraces of Grace
        Oct. 7, 2021

        Thoughts from Pastor Scott

        Dear First Methodist family,


        Yesterday afternoon I had an MRI done on my knee. Don't worry, it's just a running injury that has been lingering since last fall, nothing life-threatening. Anyway, this process, and the MRI, have gotten me thinking about diagnostics. For much of the last year I tried to self-diagnose what was wrong with my knee. I tried different self-prescribed treatments based on Dr. Google. But ultimately, I haven't been able to diagnose what is happening in my own knee and I haven't been able to fix it. 


        I think in our congregational life and even in our spiritual lives, we often try to do the same thing. We know something is not quite right, we walk with just a hint of a limp, but we have no idea how to diagnose what the problem is or how to treat it. A lot of times that happens because we're either too close to the situation that we can't see the issue, or we've slowly gotten used to that little bit of pain, or we've learned to compensate for the weakness (at least from our own perspective). But when we tell someone about the issue, or someone new joins our congregation, they see things with a wider perspective or greater clarity. This is a big part of why living in community with others is so important; we can help one another to see.


        As a newcomer to First Methodist I probably see some things differently than you. There may be some things that, as a church, we've just gotten used to, but aren't quite right. I'm not pretending to have all the answers, or that I am an expert in anything, but I want you to know that as I push and prod on some things, as I implement some changes, it's because I want to see our church whole and healthy. If you see an area of my life where I am limping, I hope that you too will come and talk to me so that I can be whole and healthy as well. We're better together and we were made for more


        Grace & Peace,

        -Pastor Scott