2014-09-28 Sermon at Simpson UMC “God At Work In You”

“God At Work In You”  (Philippians 2:1-13)

What are signs of God at work in you?

How do we know that God is at work, enabling us both to will and to work for good?

The past few Sundays, we have been talking about reconciliation, forgiveness and acting graciously toward one another. These are signs of God at work in you. Whenever we experience an act of reconciliation or forgiveness among God’s people, we know that God is at work among us.

How often do we feel a desire to reconcile with a family member, a friend or coworker? How frequently do we feel the urge to forgive and ask for forgiveness? In all these circumstances, how often do we feel a lack of power or energy to act?

It is not always enough to will something. Good intentions are not always carried out.

Paul sees believers as their will energized by God and then also having the power to work supplied by God. God furnishes the enablement to carry out both the desire to will what is good and the energy to do it.

God is the one working in you, both the willing and the working.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

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Taiko Lessons 1 and 2

I have had my first two lessons on Taiko drumming!  I really am having fun!!

I had hoped to share with you detailed information on Taiko drums but it is turning out to be much more complicated than I anticipated.

There seems to be a billion types of drums and since I don’t speak Japanese trying to keep the names and descriptions straight is beyond this new student.

During practice and performance there are many different sized drums in use with the many drums providing different pitches to astound the senses.  Probably the most well-known drum in any Taiko ensemble would be the ōdaiko, the largest drum on the stage.

Bachi is the term for the drum sticks used.  Right now I am using a very light weight set of bachi.  Taiko drumming is quite a work out.  The stance is a wide legged stance with a slight bend to the knees requiring good balance so you can move in and out from the drum.  (I made the mistake of wearing sandals for lesson 2 and my feet were not happy.)  The wrists, forearms, upper arms and shoulders are all used and depending on the strokes and rhythms you are undertaking the workout can be intense.  A strong core is essential.  I am grateful for the light weight bachi!

Thank you Marc Steuben for your continued patience!

Homemade Pet Food!?!

Okay I admit it my pets eat better than I do!

I have dogs and parrots and I cook from scratch for them.

Parrots get a warm home cooked breakfast and bird kibble in the afternoon.

Dogs get three warm meals a day.  Half dog kibble and half home cooked.

I started cooking for my pets because a beloved veterinarian who is now retired told me that kibble was like eating cereal, it could sustain you but wouldn’t home cooked meals be better?

He suggested feeding healthy fresh food and guess what!  He was right….

At that time, I had a dog who had serious health issues and was going to a university teaching college veterinary clinic. I stopped taking him there after changing his care and diet.  They kept sending me letters asking if I wanted to donate money in his memory.  They thought he had passed away.  What they didn’t know was that he was still alive!  I attribute this (his improved  health) to feeding a better diet, a diet that included meals cooked from scratch.

Seriously my pets eat better than me.  Their food is a better quality and more nutritious, I put their meals before mine.  (They are my children…..)  If I get busy cooking their meals I’ll be eating fast food or nothing, sigh, which is tonight, I made a batch of dog food and at 11:30 pm I haven’t fed myself!

Okay, I’ll admit it, my step kids used to ask (really) “Is that dog food or people food?”

I really love these stinkers!  (Step kids and dogs!)

Coming soon how I cook for my pets!  (And a  recipe for people that my step kids fondly named “dog vomit stew”)

 

 

 

Messages received from sermon “Grace is Not Fair” by Tezenlo Thong

Thank you for participating in the feedback for the weekly sermon “Grace is Not Fair”!  Here are some of the comments received from the congregation describing the message received from the sermon:

  • To lead a live of grace, you must let go of your ideas of justice and rules and trust God.
  • It is so easy to ask for “grace” but it is harder to give “grace”.
  • God’s grace is for all, it is not for me to judge who is worthy to receive God’s love and grace – it is up to me to be a child of God and show God’s grace to others.
  • Every day expand the grace we show others.
  • Our grace should be more like God’s.
  • Extend grace to my spouse and family and be less critical.
  • Forgiveness is to dispense grace.  Dispense grace.
  • God’s grace is amazing and touches everyone.
  • Explore your own margin of grace and enlarge your margin mindfully.
  • Let go of power and rules and let in grace.

Special note to Tezenlo, I received many compliments on your appropriate sense of humor, keep it up!

 

Jennifer Lim at Arts & Crafts Showcase 10-19-2014, Rescued Broken Jewelry

I took my friend Jennifer Lim an huge plastic bag of broken and “I’m tired of this piece” jewelry.

I had been saving all this jewelry with no idea what I was going to do with it.  Since at least half of it was broken I couldn’t take it to the thrift store.

She does this amazing thing with bits of forgotten or discarded jewelry, she re-purposes the bits and pieces and makes entirely new pieces of jewelry!

I wish I had taken a picture of that plastic bag of broken jewelry, sigh, but here are a few examples of what she did with those castaways:

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Thank you Jennifer for being so fun and giving me back some memories!

 

 

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If you would like to see Jennifer’s creative pieces in person, bracelets, earrings and necklaces, join us at Simpson UMC on 10-19-2014.  Her prices are unbelievably reasonable.  All proceeds she donates to the Simpson UMC Chancel Choir for special music and adding musicians to help our extremely talented pianist with Christmas and Easter Cantatas.

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A light lunch will also be served until sold out.  There are many amazing artists that display each year and you will not be disappointed!

P.S.  If you would like to donate some broken jewelry Jennifer will make it into something amazing which she sells and donates all proceeds in support of the Simpson UMC Chancel Choir.  Bring your plastic bag of bits and pieces!

2014-09-21 Sermon at Simpson UMC “Grace Is Not Fair”

“Grace Is Not Fair”

Matthew 20:1-16

Today’s passage will make you want to shake your head and say, “That’s not fair.” It is because grace is not fair. God’s grace is indeed not fair. Grace means unmerited favor. It means extending favor to someone who doesn’t deserve it, who hasn’t earned it, and can never repay it.

The scandal of the parable is that God doesn’t give us what we deserve. God gives us what we need, whether we deserve it or not. The point of the parable is that God’s grace is amazing. That God’s grace is beyond our comprehension. That it encompasses everyone, welcomes everyone, forgives everyone, and loves everyone.

The second part of the parable is about us. If you observed the parable carefully, it was not the landowner who distributed the silver coins. He asked the foreman/worker to give the silver coins. The owner of the vineyard has selected you to dispense the silver coins. That’s what the parable is about. God wants you to dispense grace on God’s behalf. As God representatives, we are asked to show God’s grace to others. God calls us to enlarge the margin of grace in our lives. If our grace margin is small, we become exclusionary, judgmental and self-righteous. We become rigid, legalistic and impatient with others. But if or when our margin of grace is wide and big, we overlook each other’s mistakes. We begin to see our own weakness in other people’s failures. We don’t take things too seriously. Enlarge your margin of grace to accommodate people who don’t think or believe like you, people who are different from you. That’s the reason why we are show grace by God. Freely receive, freely give!

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor Simpson UMC

Taiko

Taiko means drum in Japanese.

In ancient Japan the drum was played to drive away evil spirits and pests harmful to crops and then in thanks for a successful crop.

Drums were used in warfare to inspire troops, and as a kind of a code to transmit orders or messages. In battle, the drummer was an important part of keeping the troops advised and enthused.

Learning Taiko has proved to be a mental and physical challenge and workout.  Your whole body becomes involved and finding the balance and coordination and concentration is an interesting test of blending all these elements together.

I have taken 2 classes now with Marc Steuben who is a member of Taiko with Toni – Toni is the leader of the parent taiko group..  I find him very encouraging, he really likes to have fun!  Although I am certain I am a klutz he is supportive and diplomatic in his corrections.

If you are interested in Taiko classes please contact him at marc@marcsteuben.com

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  The group is Taiko with Toni and regularly performs and upcoming performances will be posted here also!