Dear Younger Me:

Dear Younger Me:

"It is not at all how you imagined it would be. You won't sit behind your desk for hours at a time contemplating sermon applications and you won't be a local fixture at a coffee shop as you catch up on latest church growth trends. You haven't written one book. When your phone rings, it won't be someone who wants to discuss point #2 or illistration #3. You won't be loved by everyone; no matter how hard you try. You won't sleep easy. The majority of your time will revolve around the daily struggles in other’s lives, not around the goals of your own. You will spend much time mending fences, confronting evil, building teams, encouraging those in need of encouragement, and your calendar will ding for meetings and lots of them. Some will think you are too cautious. Others too aggressive. Every decision you make will be crucial and bear much consequence. And no matter how your day is going, you must be ready to love, lead, and not get overwhelmed by the size of the storm you are facing. You will choose to err on the side of grace, and you will learn the value of saying 'I'm sorry.' You will want to do more when sometimes the answer is doing less. Some days you will fail. Some days you will never even make it to the door of your office. You will find your greatest joy in others. Dear younger me. It is not what you thought it would be. It.....is......so....much...greater!!! God didn't call you to be a preacher. He called you to be a pastor and a father and a husband and a neighbor and a friend. Dear younger me. Buckle up butter cup. You are in for the ride if your life and you wont believe the amazing family that you inherit along the way.

Enjoy every day." -Older Me

Floss

I had my six-month dental cleaning appointment this morning and am quite sure that my dental hygienist drank at least six cups of coffee before I arrived.  She was hyper and chatty!!!!  While I was reclined “comfortably” in the chair as she scraped away six months of yuck from teeth, she was updating me on all the things in her life.

She got new flooring but is not happy with it.  The cold front has left, but there is a new one coming through.  She is planning a trip to the beach with her friend.  Her daughter is doing fine and thinks it might be time to get a dog. 

In the midst of all the updates, she paused.  “You really need to floss”, she stated.  My first instinct was to deny the lack of flossing accusation, but instead, I just nodded my head in approval.  She suddenly switched from her life updates to describing a new study that has linked the bacteria in between our teeth to heart disease.  Not only was she concerned with my teeth, but she was also concerned with my heart.  

She made a statement that has stuck with me all day.  “It turns out that the mouth is connected to the heart.”  I had heard this statement in church before, but never at the dentist office. I kept repeating that sentence in my mind and God nudged me with a small, simple thought….

While I reclined “comfortably” in the chair, she wasn’t just saying “words.”  She was sharing her heart.  The things that were important to her.  Her daughter. Her home. A much-needed vacation.  Her life!!

We hear (or read) a lot of words all day long.  Today, I was challenged by God to actually listen to them. Listen to the people speaking around me.  And especially the people speaking to me.  Maybe, just maybe God will use our listening ear to minister to someone who has something to say that really needs to be heard.

“It turns out that the mouth is connected to the heart.”

Written by Pastor Mark Bedwell

"SWEET POTATO"

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and one thing that is on my mind is sweet potatoes. I have always loved sweet potatoes. Sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole, sweet potato French fries, even sweet potato ravioli.

Last week, I wandered into the kitchen and noticed that there were some sweet potatoes on the counter about to find their way into a wonderful casserole dish.  I opened up a drawer…..withdrew a fork….inched myself over to the bowl of sweet potatoes that were awaiting their smashing, mixing and delicious additions and I inserted my fork into the bowl. There was steam rising from the bare potatoes…but I was willing to take a chance.  I pulled out a tiny bite.  It was quite hot…but I ate it any way and found myself making the “hot hot hot” noise as I let the potatoes dance around my mouth attempting to cool them off.  I went for another taste.  This time I blew on the potatoes long enough to get them to at least a bearable temperature for tasting.  I began to chew and taste….and to be quite honest…

I was a little bit underwhelmed.  I took another taste and it wasn’t much better.  They were bland and simply…..so so.

I had tasted plain sweet potatoes before, and never really given it much thought…but on this day….I kept tasting and kept thinking to myself….I am just not that  in love with sweet potatoes.   It wasn’t that they tasted bad….it was just that BY THEMSELVES they didn’t have much taste to me….at all.   I reflected on the dishes I liked that had sweet potatoes in them…..the pie, the casserole, the ravioli and such.  What I came to realize is that my addiction wasn’t to the sweet potatoes…rather it was to all of the amazing things that surrounded them. The nuts, the marshmallows, the brown sugar, the heavy cream, the butter……those were the things that I truly craved.  Those were the things that got my taste buds dancing..and the main thing….the sweet potato……it was simply along for the ride.

 

I fear we often make the same mistake in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We claim that we have always loved Him but we live in such a way that seems that He might be simply along for the ride. We can easily spout off five, six, or even seven weekly or monthly routines that either center around Him or are somehow attached to His name……but when all is stripped away and it is purely us and Him….have we become a little underwhelmed…..a little bored with simply…..Christ alone?  Have we gotten distracted by all the brown sugar, marshmallows, butter, and crème and have we simply lost focus of the pure love and relationship that is supposed to be the center of our life….the center of our world?  Is He enough or might we at times find ourselves a little underwhelmed?

 

May we truly examine our hearts and truly question our pure love and addiction for Christ alone.  May we ask God to stir our spirit and feed us with the truth in such a way that we will be overwhelmed with His love and with His presence. May we realize that there are some actual good things that are distracters….not just sin.  May we evaluate and may we make needed changes in our life that elevate who He is and that eliminate or at least de-value things that have gotten wedged between the purity of our walk with Him.  May we study Him, may we know Him, may we seek Him and may we find that we re-discover our love for Him as the true center of our life….the center of our world.  May we cherish that truth and may we spend the rest of our life searching and growing to the place that the answer is “yes, yes, yes”…..to the question ……Is Christ alone enough?  May we taste and see that the Lord is good.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell