Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

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Covenant Caller Vol. 9, no. 3

March 1, 2017

In Jeopardy style, the answer is, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” And the question is, “Why doesn’t fasting make a lasting difference in most people’s spiritual life?”

During the 40 days of Lent, it is a tradition to give up something for the season. Sometimes it is a food item we enjoy, but blame for our weight problem, so we claim to give up chocolate, or pie, or cake as a spiritual discipline, when we really want to lose weight. At times we try to use Lent to work on breaking a bad habit by pledging to give up something like swearing, cigarettes, or road rage for the season, in the hope it will last beyond the few weeks of Lent. But the reality is it doesn’t really work! Usually we are back to our familiar behaviors well before the Lenten season is complete. Why? Because our spiritual life, like nature, abhors a vacuum!

Trying to stop bad behavior is not easy; it creates open spaces or a vacuum. Something else will inevitably fill the space. If we are not intentional about what we substitute, we are likely to find ourselves substituting one bad habit for another. If you know you are not spending enough time building your relationship with God, instead of creating an elaborate plan to eliminate things to make space, just take time, a few moments, to pray. Make life easy on yourself. If you want to read the Bible a bit more, just put a Bible next to your favorite chair or on the night stand where it can be conveniently picked up. Then read a passage or two as you are getting comfortable. Nature will take its course. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, it also abhors overcrowding; something will give way and time will be found!

For most of us, the reality is we should be spending more time doing the things of God. If you really want a chance for successful change, rather than trying to change your whole lifestyle, just make simple changes, and make those changes one at a time. Soon you will find yourself falling into new patterns of living, finding time and forming new habits that will be more pleasing to God.

This Lenten season, instead of just giving up something, add a good habit. Make it something simple you have wanted to do. In the process, you’ll likely find yourself naturally eliminating the unproductive time wasters. Make sure you take it one day at a time. Don’t be discouraged if you miss a day or two. Instead, be encouraged that you have taken another step on your journey of faith, knowing each step is bringing you closer to God.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jim

Previous Callers

May 1, 2017

A few weeks ago, as the first service was ending and people were saying their hellos and goodbyes at the door to Wesley Hall, I was handed a prayer card.  The card had obviously been filled out by a young child.  Under the “Joys and Thanksgivings” section the child had written, “I love you God.”  Well, actually it read, “I love you Gob,” but I assumed the “d” was written backwards as children sometimes do.  There we also names written under the “Concerns” section and the child included their name along with the name of a sibling.

At the second service, two children listened to the words of our opening hymn and took them seriously.  The hymn was Lord of the Dance and the children danced.  In that same service I began the children’s moment by asking, “How do we send a message to Jesus?”  Without hesitation the answer came, “Pray.”  Well, I guess I didn’t need to teach that message to the kids!


April 1, 2017

I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.

- Excerpts from The Apostles’ Creed

Wow, what a statement! The last line of The Apostles’ Creed is a powerful statement of faith. Faith, mind you, just faith. There is no absolute proof that such a statement is true. We do not have faithful individuals from the ancient past who have returned to earth today to witness the truth of life everlasting. All we have is the collected writings of the early church leaders, testimony from believers, and maybe our own unexplainable spiritual or mystic encounters.


March 1, 2017

In Jeopardy style, the answer is, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” And the question is, “Why doesn’t fasting make a lasting difference in most people’s spiritual life?”

During the 40 days of Lent, it is a tradition to give up something for the season. Sometimes it is a food item we enjoy, but blame for our weight problem, so we claim to give up chocolate, or pie, or cake as a spiritual discipline, when we really want to lose weight. At times we try to use Lent to work on breaking a bad habit by pledging to give up something like swearing, cigarettes, or road rage for the season, in the hope it will last beyond the few weeks of Lent. But the reality is it doesn’t really work! Usually we are back to our familiar behaviors well before the Lenten season is complete. Why? Because our spiritual life, like nature, abhors a vacuum!


February 1, 2017

February can be a cold and snowy month. Despite its being the shortest month of the year, more snow falls and accumulates in February than any other month! Unless you are going skiing or snowboarding, that’s a dreary thought. But February is also supposed to be a warm month, the month we celebrate the warmth of love, the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day, or more formally Saint Valentine’s Day, has evolved over the years from a traditional feast day celebrating the life of the martyred St. Valentine to a day of romance, roses, and chocolate. But, it wasn’t always that way.

Saint Valentine may have been as many as three different people active in the life of the early church. While all expressed love, none was particularly known for romantic love or in Greek “eros” love. Instead, they were known for serving the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the outcast.