A word to the wise

November 17, 2020

Growing up, I remember that older people continually urged me to enjoy my childhood and youth. Like many of you, I longed for a time when I could chart my own destiny and engage the world independently. Marrying young allowed that to happen much faster than I thought.

When you are young, it seems like everyone feels a need to offer-intentioned advice that never quite seems to fit. Those same adults that counseled patience and presence at the moment said something that I always found confusing. Time passes quickly, and because of that, life passes quickly.

Approaching sixty means coming to terms with an unavoidable fact of life. Sands in the hourglass of life pass steadily from top to bottom, and almost before we know it, the bottom is filling up as the top wanes. Time waits for no one.

Another piece of advice often offered in my youth was, "With age comes wisdom." Wisdom is a combination of knowledge, experience, and well-developed intuition. It is something we learn and earn. Often wisdom is only acquired as we navigate the convoluted, often complex problems that life throws at us.

Solomon was purported to be one of the wisest men of his day, perhaps even the wisest person of all time. He studied widely, associated with the educated elite, and took Israel's kingdom to its zenith in the process. Solomon was a prolific writer credited with authoring Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Ecclesiastes was written toward the end of his life. Recently I read this short biblical book and was somewhat taken aback by the overwhelming sense of futility Solomon displays looking back on life. Solomon was a shrewd politician, handling domestic affairs and forging political alliances with other countries by strategic marriages. He had it all by all accounts, so one has to wonder why his writing conveys a sense of being world-weary.

This man had a profound divine encounter upon the completion and dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. God offered him anything that he would ask for, and Solomon chose the wisdom to govern well. God's response was to give him wealth, possessions, and honor as well. God's only caveat was that Solomon and Israel remain faithful to worship God alone. But politically expedient marriages soon diluted the king's resolve to worship God alone. I can't help but wonder if this was the source of disillusionment in Ecclesiastes.

Solomon wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." Proverbs 9:10. The author mentions wisdom fifty times in Proverbs. As a young man and a new king, he had a profound experience with God and even sees fire come down from heaven at the Temple's dedication. Yet somewhere along the way, those marriages to foreign wives led to the worship of foreign gods.

There is a difference between knowing what is right and doing the right thing. All of us seem like we are wandering in the wilderness for the last eight months. Our everyday lives have been affected by a pandemic that continues to color so much of life. Every day another expert touts yet another set of newly compiled facts about a disease running rampant worldwide. As more and more people contract the virus statewide, the possibility of an infection escalates. One of my peers said something very sobering in a meeting a couple of weeks ago. This virus doesn't care about the holidays.

As the holidays approach, we are tired of COVID-19, and we all want our lives back. The holiday season creates a conundrum for us, and we are facing some hard choices. None of us can choose for anyone else; we all have to assess the risks and decide how best to respond.  Will we travel or stay at home? Will we wear a mask or take a chance? Limit our exposure or take the chance to move more freely? Wash our hands or blow it off? Likely your response will be a combination of good choices and mitigated risk. We need wisdom like never before. Choose wisely for the sake of your health, your family, and your community.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom James 3:13

                                                                                                                                                                     Pastor Kenny


 

Reflections

October 20, 2020
Approaching this article every week is a two-edged sword. Writing is both an opportunity to communicate as well as a responsibility to be a truth-teller. On my best days, a piece is a combination of both. Perhaps this will be one of those times.

During my weekend, I spent some time at my sister Loretta's house. Currently, her new job as a mortgage processor supervisor allows her the flexibility to work from home. Because of the pandemic, she opted for her -year-old to attend classes virtually....

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Inspection

October 12, 2020

The first four years in ministry were spent as an associate pastor. This role gave me a lot of flexibility and served to prepare me to be a pastor. Often I was surprised at the cynicism of senior staff members towards an annual reporting/meeting known as charge conference.

When we finally launched out into fulltime ministry at Berryville UMC, I began to understand for myself why they dreaded it so much. The report itself is fairly comprehensive in nature. It is designed to ensure that building...


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Back to normal-ish

October 7, 2020

Last week I wrote my newsletter article from home. Our entire family was tested last Monday, and gratefully everyone tested negative for the virus. When the results came in on Wednesday, there was a collective sigh of relief and hugs all around. Honestly, the whole episode was a severe shock to our sensibilities.

Leigh Ann Guest went above and beyond, helping us navigate the complexities of preparing to address the testing. She called with our test results, answered all of our questions, an...


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Empathy

September 29, 2020

Oxford Languages defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Up to this point, we’ve been on the outside looking in. Our faith community is more than empathetic towards those who have been adversely affected. You don’t need to watch the news to know that people who lost earnings, employment, businesses, personal liberty, and peace of mind during the last six months struggle to recover their equilibrium.

Persons who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 or...


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Are we there yet?

September 24, 2020

This nostalgic phrase in the American language came into common usage when cars became an accepted mode of transportation in this country. Its been so much a part of my life, it probably made the top-ten list of all-time worst questions to hear from anyone in the passenger seat. There are emojis, memes, gifs, and even a movie made by the same title. These four words, apparently the perpetual question, make frequent appearances in cartoons, books, and yes, even church newsletter articles.

Th...


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The mantle of leadership

September 15, 2020

Passing the mantle

Looking at the book of Exodus over the last couple of weeks, we hear about the actions of God as he delivered the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Exodus provides the story of Moses, giving an account of his life from infancy to end of life. God not only saves Moses as an infant, but his becoming an adopted member of the royal family means that Moses receives the best education Egypt could offer. Little does he know how much he will come to need every ounce of educatio...


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Labor Day

September 8, 2020

Looking out of the backdoor, I can see that the September sun is making heat distortion that makes my view of the church look a little wavy.  A slight breeze ripples through the yellowing stalks of a quickly drying field of soybeans. Soon the combines will be stirring up dust in that field, bringing in the harvest for another year.

Saturday, Penny and I went to Stuttgart via St. Charles and State Highway 153, where farmers were busily cutting corn and rice. Tractors pulling grain hoppers wer...


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Pastor Kenny Lee


Minister of the Gospel Loving God, and loving people

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