Too many Interuptions in your daily schedule?

posted by Rusty Guenther

Then Jesus Said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’.” Matthew 16:24 This statement from Jesus is found in all four of the Gospels that record his earthly ministry and seems straightforward. Yet if you were to ask various people what it means to “follow Jesus” you would get a multitude of answers; “love others”, “be forgiving”, “strive to Honor and Worship God”, “apply the Bible to your life”, and while all of those responses would be correct, the way we follow them can be subjective and look different to different people. The best way we can learn how to “follow Jesus” would be to look at his life and how he lived it and do likewise. There are plenty of examples of how he lived out each of the examples above to follow and apply  but there is one thing he did that many people overlook or do not take notice of that might very well be the most important aspect we need to apply when striving to “Follow Him”.  Jesus did not mind interruptions! Matter of fact a majority of His ministry and outreach to others came in moments of unplanned interruptions. Today, we think of interruptions to our busy and planned out days as being a bother, a nuisance, something we rush through to get back on track. Yet Jesus saw interruptions as an opportunity.  Think about the miracles Jesus performed; almost every one was a result of an interruption, they were not planned. Those times he healed the lame, brought sight to the blind, brought a daughter back to life, fed the 5000 on the mountainside, calmed the stormy water—each time was the result of an interruption. Someone pushed through the crowd to touch Him, some cried out to him while he was on the road, the disciples ran out of food, one time they literally dropped a lame man through the roof while he was teaching—even His very first miracle of turning water into wine came at a party he was attending with some friends and was interrupted by his mother asking for Him to step in. We don’t think of them as interruptions today , they were miracles—but to many who were with Jesus, you could tell they viewed them as interruptions by their responses.  What they viewed as interruptions, as a distraction from their schedules; we now view as vital examples of Jesus deity, of His mercy, His Grace, His Love! If we truly want to follow Jesus, maybe it is time we started viewing our daily “interruptions” as “divine appointments” and instead of rushing to move past them, become more “present” in them. “Whoever claims to live in him, must walk as Jesus did” 1st John 2:6—and sometimes that means stopping when He stopped and being engaged with those in need around us!


“I think I need a Q-tip"

posted by Rusty Guenther

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2a

I woke up this morning with an earwig. I know that sounds pretty gross, but it is not some bug that crawled into my ear while I slept, but rather a song that is stuck in my head and I can’t get it out. All of us have been plagued with these things; some catchy jingle, a song you heard in passing or maybe a song you really enjoyed at first but now it has become annoying. My earwig this week is a song from Australian artist, Gotye called “Somebody that I use to know”. In one week of television I heard this song three times; on American Idol, The Voice and performed live on Saturday Night Live. Now before you worry about my television viewing habits, I was not really watching any of these shows. They were on in the background while I was reading, but the song still came through and penetrated my mind. So here I sit, a week later, and I am still mumbling it, the tune rolling in my brain as I fumble the words, trying to remember the chorus. Maybe it was the cool way the song starts out with a guy playing the xylophone (who knew when we were just kids, all banging around on our little "drag behind us xylophone" that one day it would be featured on a hit song – kind of like the cowbell - but that is a different post). I don’t really know why these things stick in our heads, but somehow they plant themselves deep in the back of our minds in our subconscience and we can’t get them out. (I realize by now, for some of you, your curiosity has gotten the best of you and you have jumped over to youtube to hear this song but I warn you, If you make it through to the chorus, it will be stuck in your head!).

This got me thinking about all of the other things that are stuck in my head; things that I have not been able to erase or forget. I am not talking about that REO Speedwagon or Cars song from 1983; but all of the off-handed, hurtful and discouraging words that I have internalized down through the years. From the coach who shouted, “You will never be good enough” to my middle school teacher’s comments to my parents that "my attention span problems will keep me from ever being successful". Like an earwig; we all have those comments from our past stuck somewhere in our heads and some have even made their ways to our hearts. They usually come creeping out during times of self –doubt, or times when we are struggling and if we are not careful they get put on “repeat” and we start believing them.

I have found the best way to get rid of an earwig is to replace it with something else. This morning I am listening to Casting Crowns, “Who am I” to help remind myself that I should be overwhelmed by the love, grace and forgiveness of God. (go ahead and click over and listen to the words) As I meditate on the words to this song, it is hard for me to even recall that song that was stuck in my head, much less all the hateful comments from my past that plague me. The Bible is full of the promises of God to His children; and as we read, meditate and listen to these promises, those words from our past can't help but grow distant. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and as we meditate on God’s word and it’s truth for us, our lives are transformed. I want to encourage you to stop letting those “earwigs” from your past determine your future. Replace them with the promises of God and let the Holy Spirit make those truths a reality in your life.

Writing My First Church Blog.

posted by Rusty Guenther

"Better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt"

That quote that has been attributed to Mark Twain, is the first thought that came to my mind when we discussed my writing a blog for the churches new website. It is not that I don’t love sharing my opinions and thoughts – who doesn’t? It is just the idea of having to put my thoughts into a coherent structure that I struggle with. I am the poster child for ADD and it takes every ounce of trained self-discipline (and much help from the Holy Spirit) each week to be able to keep my focus on my sermons and Bible studies; and now a Blog? I wish I could tell you that each week you will be able to click on this page and gain some great wisdom and insight, or maybe some spiritual nugget, or at least a good quote to put as a facebook status to impress your friends; but I make no promises. What you will get is the jumbled up, random thoughts that I am wrestling with that day, or week – or it might just be something from left field that my ADD mind has grabbed ahold of and won’t let go until it is regurgitated. Can you say regurgitated on a church blog?

As a young minister, many years ago – but not that long ago, I tried to soak up all of the advice I could get from those who came before me. I observed, asked a lot of questions and mostly learned from the kind correction I received after messing something up. One of the things I noticed is that when I came into the ministry in the mid 80’s the perception of those serving as Pastors and Ministers was changing. For several generations, congregations placed their ministers on a pedestal, in lofty regard. There was a sort of disconnect between those serving and the people they served. I am not saying they did not minister and reach out to their congregations with passion and devotion, there was just an invisible barrier constructed. I understood this better when one of my seminary professors encouraged us to never use personal illustrations in our messages or studies. His reasoning was that this could cause the congregation to de-mystify, or humanize the Pastor, and that somehow this would devalue the message. I think it must have been a generational thing. This was one piece of advice I never subscribed to.

I firmly believe in transparency and openness and I love sharing about my mistakes, struggles, questions and concerns with the body of Christ. I struggle as a parent, as a husband, as a son, as a friend and especially as a Pastor. I say all of this to help you understand that if you check back here each week to read this blog; you are going to find the random thoughts and struggles of a fellow traveler. You will find someone trying to live a genuine and real faith in a hurting, messed up world; someone on a journey of discovery. An inner discovery about myself and a deeper discovery of the grace, mercy, forgiveness and salvation, I have been blessed with. The only promises I will make is to be open and honest and to try and not prove Twain’s quote true. Some of these blogs might be short and pithy, some may be longer than you have time to read, but I promise you that all of them will come from my heart. I hope you will join me on this journey!