Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where's Newman

Welcome to the initial posting for the 2012 year. This is a year of newness and anticipation. This is a year of praise and progress. This is a year of questioning and visioning. This is the year that the Lord has made. We are planning on rejoicing and celebrating in it.

So, what's up with the title? We are starting a campaign that will ask people in our congregation and community where they see Newman being the church that called it to be. I cannot tell you everything in this post, but I can give you some hints. There will be bumper stickers, wristbands, mission trips, and a lot of pictures. When you get a chance, ask someone what they think it means. Ask me, if you get a chance and let me know that you are reading this post. LOL

Well, check us out on Facebook. Visit the new website ( Whatever you do, find out "Where's Newman".

I love you. And there is nothing that you can do about it.

Make a great day,

Pastor Jesse

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day Two of Our Mission Trip

Day Two: if yesterday was more pensive than work-oriented, then today made up for it in spades. We tried the divide and conquer approach and ended up being conquered. The younger scholars went to a church building that is being converted into mission housing for future teams. From what I was told, they anticipate that it will only take 3 additional coats to totally cover the old paint that colored the walls. I was glad to hear that one thing they are struggling to cover up is a large printed “LORD” on one of the walls. As hard as they try, they cannot make that word disappear. Call me cheesy, but I think it’s cute and prophetic. We are forever piling things on top of our relationship with God. We pile our thoughts and ideas of how our lives are supposed to be unto our Lord. We throw our isms unto our Lord. We throw our religion unto our Lord. We toss all of our “stuff” over our Lord and the Lord still shines through, refuses to go away, and refuses to die out. The group has assured me that if the word is not covered by the fourth coat, they will just leave it there. I am secretly cheering for the “Lord”.

The other group tackled two yards full of trees. That group has managed to work five chain saws to the point of collapse. The chain saws quit before the people did. However, I did hear a great sigh of relief when I reluctantly announced that we needed to call it a day because the chain saws were failing us. I think the people were at their point of collapse as well.

So, at the end of the day, we took our motley crew to the mall and they shopped. They bought Crimson Tide hats. They bought shoes and socks. They bought shirts, belts and other nicks and knacks. But the one thing that I saw them taking away from the day, which they did not purchase at that mall in Tuscaloosa, was an affinity for one another and for the work they are doing together. So, tomorrow is another day and another opportunity for each of these young missionaries to be the hands, feet, and glory of the Lord. Oh yeah! And, pray that the “Lord” does not fade beneath the layers of paint that we call life.

I love you all. And, there is nothing you can do about it,


Monday, June 13, 2011

Mission Trip To Alabama

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy; and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

“If you are not prepared to be used, you are not prepared to serve.” This is what I tell members of my church all the time. It’s my way of helping them progress past the point of asking questions that are not conducive to helping others. It is my way of answering the question “What if they use the money to buy beer”. It is my way of answering the question “What if they are lying and don’t really have a need”. It is my way of answering the question “How do we make sure they really do what they say they are going to do as a result of us helping them”. Now, I don’t want you to think I am a mean pastor. I just don’t like to see my friends focus on things that are not important. I would rather they spend that time in service to others.

Day one of our mission trip to Alabama was pretty much standard for mission trips. There was a lot of trying to get organized. There was lot of trying to set rules and expectations. There was a lot of getting to know one another. And, surprisingly, there was a little work. And, as we returned from helping a family clear debris from their property, I heard a team leader complaining that “they have a pool” and “looks like they are pretty well off.” The team member then went on to suggest that we should try to find someone who “needed our help more”. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was taken aback. I could not believe that I had actually had the same thoughts myself. I was disappointed in myself. I had actually suggested in my mind that you have to be poor or needy to warrant people helping you. It was almost as if I needed to know that the people “really” needed my help in order to validate my helping. I was what I had warned others from becoming. I was so focused on what I needed from my act of service (a good feeling of being needed), that I forgot why I was supposed to be serving in the first place. I am ashamed to admit this. I am ashamed that I lost my focus. I am ashamed to admit that I was not what I expect my friends to be… willing to be used. I pray the Creator will forgive me for this, and allow me to recommit myself to the total service of others; all others. So, tomorrow I will return to complete my service to the kingdom, and rejoice in the gift that God has already given me; a better picture of me.

I love you. And, there is nothing you can do about it.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My No Frills Experiment

"My name is Jesse and I am a gadget geek." If there was a group for people like me, that is what I would be saying every Wednesday night at our addition meeting. I have two smart phones (I am not sure how smart that really is), three iPods, two laptops (not counting the one that is on my desk nor the one that is on the floor of my bedroom with a dead battery), more accessories than I can name, and a backpack full of wires to make it all go. I have over 20 suits, over 135 ties, and too many shirts, shoes and pants to rattle off. I have STUFF. So, it is easy to see why I chose to simplify my life during the month of February and see how it would be to live without my stuff.

That's right. I spent the month of February with one phone, five pairs of socks, pants, underwear, and t-shirts, five shirts and two pairs of shoes. I also committed to spending only 20 a week for the entire month. It was good for my soul. I broke a couple of bad habits. And, I realized that I have lived such a life of privilege that it makes it very difficult for me to really advocate for others with passion and empathy. I know that sounds like a lot of "stuff" to gain from just giving up some stuff, but it is what it is.

20 Dollars a Week
Did you know that a value meal from McDonalds (medium) cost you $6.20? I am sure that I have purchased that same meal for years, and I never cared how much it cost. I would not even listen as the voice from the box would rattle off some arbitrary number that meant nothing to me. I would simply follow the direction to drive to whichever window and fork over a bill that was large enough to cover any number that started with a one and only had two digits preceding the decimal. You can do that when you know you have more where that came from. And, even if I did not have more, I had a credit card that I could whip out and drive on. But, on that day when I needed a quick meal before bible study, and all I had was that one twenty dollar bill that had to last me until Sunday, I stopped and listened to what she had to say; $6.20. I even did something that I had not done since I was a little boy in Alabama. I counted my change, and placed all of it into my pocket. I could not afford to just carelessly toss it into the ashtray or the bottom of the drink holder. It was all I had left until the end of the week. I cared about where it was, and how it was spent.

The next week, on Monday, I refreshed my wallet and got ready to face the world with my freshly washed clothes and attitude. But there was one other thing that refused to be refreshed; my head. I had been suffering from what are classically referred to as "cluster" headaches. So, after days of hiding from the light, and not taking anything, I gave in to the process, and called the doctor for an appointment. After being in the office and receiving the treatment, I was on my way out when a new sickness fell over me. I had forgotten about this part. I had to check out. I had to fill the prescription, I had to.... pay the co-pay. Well, it turns out that I don't have a co-pay for those visits. So, I walked out with my twenty dollars firmly tucked away in my wallet, and a new reality tucked away in my spirit. Not only was a fortunate enough to have insurance, but I had very good insurance. For some people, that co-pay would have meant the end of their "money" for the entire week. It would have meant that they had no money to get the medicine that they actually needed . That doctor's visit could have been in vain; because I could have been incapable of purchasing the medication. This is where I was also reminded that there are doctors in this world who give patients enough samples to make a prescription, prescribe generic brands, waive their own co-pay, and do other things of the sort, so their patients can afford the medication they prescribe. I am thankful for them.

The final two weeks were a bust. My father died and there was no way I could have buried him with twenty dollars in my pocket.Oops, there goes another one of my realities. It must be hard for people who do not have money, to even bury their loved ones. Now, I am not obtuse. I have always known that it was hard to be poor. I have been poor for most of my life. Alas, how quickly we assimilate and forget. By the way, how much did your last fast food meal cost?

We will talk about the technology next week. Happy blogging. I am looking forward to your comments.