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The Feed Scoop

As soon as she (Mary Magdalene) had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.” (John 20:14, CEB) 

Growing up on a farm, rolling out of bed early to do morning chores was pretty routine and forgettable. But there is one morning when I was 11 or 12 years old that sticks in my memory decades latter. It was still dark when I reached into the feed barrel to scoop out some feed for the cows. Instead of the scoop handle, I grabbed a opossum. Scared the daylights out of me! Click here to listen to the full story (first part of the April 4 sermon).

In the early morning darkness, the bottom of the feed barrel was the last place I expected to see a opossum, let alone grab a hold of one! So, you better believe I was looking for it after that!

The only reason a hungry opossum was able to get into the feed barrel in the first place was that I, or one of my brothers, left the lid off the barrel the night before. I of course blamed my brothers. Regardless of who was at fault, after that I always made sure the barrel lid as tightly secure after the chores were done. I had never carried a flashlight to do morning chores before, but I did after that! For the next several days, I would shine that flashlight every where I went in the early morning darkness. And I always made sure to look into the feed barrel first, before reaching in to grab the scoop.

After my close encounter with the furry feed scoop handle, I expected a opossum to be lurking at every turn. I was not going to be caught off guard by it or any other varmint again! It's the same way with Easter. If you really believe that Jesus Christ is risen, do you expect the living Jesus to show up in some way in your life?

Receiving the gift of Easter means expecting Jesus at every turn!

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve

Headed West

It was still dark on a cold January morning when I backed the car out of the driveway a little before 6:00 am. A little later I eased onto I-44 headed west towards Tulsa, Oklahoma a two hour drive away. Once there I had a full day and evening of classes before climbing back into my car for the two hour drive east, hopefully arriving home before midnight.

Lots of questions rolled through my mind. What would graduate school be like? What would being back in the classroom after 20+ years be like? Could I keep up with all the lectures, reading, paper writing and projects. Could I keep up with my obligations of family, a day job, and being a rookie weekend pastor of a small congregation? I'd done the math, crunched the time numbers, but it didn't really make sense.

It was my first day of seminary and I was really nervous! But I was also excited!

A few years earlier I had begun to sense God nudging me to do something different with my life. That “something” eventually became a call into formal ministry in the United Methodist Church. After lots of prayer and conversation with my wife, I decided I should say “yes” to this call. And that decision set in motion a process that had brought me to this January morning headed west to Tulsa.

But was this really the right thing to do?

I tuned the radio to the local Christian radio station. Somewhere in the midst of the music and stark beauty of the eastern Oklahoma landscape becoming visible in the sunrise, I got a very powerful sense of the presence of God. In those holy moments few, if any, of my questions were answered. In spite of that, I was confident I was headed in the right direction!

It may or may not be a life changing call into formal ministry in the church, but God calls each of us to obedience with a purpose. It’s in the midst of that obedience that we find confidence in God’s presence and help! Click here to listen to more (March 28 sermon).

May you and I always be able to say, “Where you lead me today, God, I will follow.”

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

Power of the Past

History was my favorite subject in school! I know that's not the case for everyone. So, I asked my “history loving” elementary teacher son, “How do you make history exciting and relevant for your grade school students?” He chuckled and said, “You have to get creative. It also helps to get them thinking about how what’s happened in the past connects with what’s happening now.” 

He gave the example of the history of communication. You start by digging into how people used to send messages to each other 50, 100, or even 2000 years ago. Way back then you might have to rely on someone delivering a letter on foot, or if you really wanted express delivery, on horseback. Later came message carrying by ship, then train (and here’s where things really start accelerating), then came the telegraph, telephones, computers, email, cell phones, and instant messaging. 

"But you don't stop there," he said. "You have your students think about the ways communication may well evolve in the future. If that’s how fast and different communication has evolved in the past, just imagine what might happen in the years ahead! And it’s then that students of all ages begin to see how sometimes it takes the past to better understand the present and future." 

Sometimes, something old can help us better see the new!

That's true when in comes to our past with God. In fact, God's past repeats itself in new ways! So, I want you to look back to the power of the cross and resurrection of Christ, through the lens of where you are today. Through the lens of where you are, what you're doing, and where you're going... look back to the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ! It's how you'll recognize the new thing God is doing in your life. Click here to listen to more (March 21 sermon). 

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve


Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, enjoy the richest of feasts.” (Isaiah 55:2b, CEB)

It's said that smells can be powerful memory triggers to places and events that have emotional connections for us. I believe it!

When hit with the aroma of fresh-baked bread, immediately in my mind's eye I'm walking through the back door of the farmhouse I grew up in. Coming in from a long summer day of playing outside with my brothers or after finishing my chores on a cold winter evening, the smell of my mom's homemade bread in the air let me I know all would be well. Mmmm... I can taste now!

As good as a slice of freshly buttered, steamy “right out of the oven” slice of my mom's bread tasted, it was much more than that really! The smell, sight, and taste of that bread confirmed that I was invited to come in, loved and cared for deeply, and always welcomed home no matter what. And when I think of some of the mischief my brothers and I could get into, that's pretty amazing really!

It's the same way with God!

God invites us back to the rich banquet of life in God’s presence and grace. It doesn't matter who you are or aren't. It doesn't matter where you've been or not been. It doesn't matter what you've done or not done... the invitation is always there to seek God, call on God, abandon our ways, and return to God (Isaiah 55:6-7). God's invitation still stands! Click here to listen to more (March 14 sermon). 

My prayer is that you will make yourself fully available to God's invitation and say “yes!”

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

Unopened Box

It was a medium sized box that was taped shut. It had never been opened. It had not one, not two, but three moving company labels on it. So, that box was first packed three moves earlier, over 15 years ago. I picked it up, wasn't very heavy. Gave it a shake, didn't rattle. I had no idea what was in it.

There it was, in my hands, taunting me. What was inside? How important could it be? Why hadn't it been opened? Should I open it now? I decided not to, and put it back on the shelf where it came from. Sometimes it's just easier leaving things unopened and hidden in the past. “Out of sight out of mind” as they say.

But when in comes to the disgrace or shame of our past, “out of sight out of mind” doesn't always work. Some things we seek to keep unopened in our lives... things like past hurts, past doubts, past disappointments, past loss, past guilt and sin... these things tend find their way out the box in defining moments and controlling ways. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish...” (John 3:16, NIV). Shall not perish... under the weight of past shame and guilt. Shall not perish... in the pain of past hurts. Shall not perish... in the grip of past temptations or additions. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have what? Eternal Life! In the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God rolls away the disgrace of our past forever into our future!  Click here to listen to more (March 7 sermon).

My prayer for you is that you can let go of the disgrace of your past and open the box of God's grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ!

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve


Someone shared with me that a few years ago their mother had passed away after suffering a major stroke. The family was all there at her mother's hospital bedside as she moved from this life to the next. After spending some time praying, the family left the hospital together. Once outside they were stunned to see the most beautiful sunset many of them had ever witnessed before. My friend went on to say how she knew that sunset was God's way of letting them know that her mother was safely in heaven!

We are a people with a past; a past with God and with others. And in your past there may have been moments of revelation, times when you've come face-to-face with the reality that God is God. Maybe it was a “stop you in your tracks” sunset. Maybe it was a time of worship so deep that it felt like you were singing for an audience of God and God alone.  Maybe it was moment of profound peace in a chaotic time of life. Maybe it was... well, you fill in the blank. 

Whatever it was, it’s important to remember those past moments of revelation. Then allow those past revelation moments to help you know that God is God. Finally, let those revelation moments birth or rekindle your trust in God and God's promises. 

That’s really important to do. Why? Because when you experience challenging times of life in the future, you'll be able to rest assured that God is God, a promise maker to trust! Click here to listen to more (February 28 sermon). 

Your partner in the journey,

Pastor Steve

Finding Your Roots

A few years ago, I discovered the PBS television series “Finding Your Roots.” Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts the show that helps influential people explore their ancestry through genealogical research and genetic testing. Surprising, sometimes even disturbing, facts about a family’s past are discovered. At times this experience produces almost spiritual moments for the people involved as who they are, what they think, and how they feel comes to make more sense. It’s like long lost pieces of a puzzle suddenly falling into place.  

We may not ever be asked to appear on “Finding Your Roots,” but we all are a people with a past. Maybe you, or someone else has explored your family’s history. If so, I’m guessing you may have happened on something that made you wonder a bit as well. Our history often helps define who we are and who we may become. And that’s true for your past with God. 

No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, you have a past with God. Sometimes courageous… sometimes not; sometimes obedient… sometimes not; sometimes close… sometimes not; sometimes trusting… sometimes not.  But all the time you are learning what it means to be in relationship with God. 

We are all a people with a past. It’s a past rooted in memory, shaped by the journey, and by God’s deliverance and care… and therein rests the joy!  And there is no greater joy than God’s ultimate deliverance in Jesus Christ!  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16, NIV).

Click here to listen to more (February 21 sermon). 

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve