Today’s Haiku for Terry, Gary and Roxy

Our church has an area where you light a candle for your concern or celebration. The rest of the congregation doesn’t know what your candle is for, but they pray with you to honor your request.

This is a simple haiku for a fellow blogger, his partner and their companion that came to me at candle lighting today.

  • live in the moment
  • a gallantly fought journey
  • destination near

A daily reminder from my companions that living in the moment is truly important.

Henry 3 months

2015/3/8 Sermon “The Ten Commandments for Today” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

The Ten Commandments for Today

(Exodus 20:1-17)

For so long, the Ten Commandments have been a source of controversy in the United States. The controversy mostly relates to public display of the Ten Commandments in public schools, court houses and other government property. To post or not to post has created wide divisions in several communities. Proponents of posting the commandments are often deeply religious people who accuse the opponents of being “anti-God” or “anti-Christian.” Is the relevance of the Ten Commandment limit to this controversy? Beyond this controversy, unfortunately, many people do not see their relevance today. It’s hard to imagine how much money or time has been wasted just on this issue – to post or not to post publicly. The commandments were not given for this purpose. That’s for sure.

The Ten Commandments are not as straightforward or simple as we think. For example, how to we interpret the oft quoted commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” What does it really mean by this? There are more times in the Old Testament when God is said to have commanded to kill than not to kill. For example, in Deuteronomy 20:17, it is said that God commanded Israelites to completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Could this be from the same God who said, “Thou shall not kill”? Could the two commandments be from two different gods? Or did God change God’s mind and decided to allow mass murder or genocide?

It all comes down to how we see the Bible. If we see the Bible as inerrant or infallible, we are likely to take the words of the Bible at face value. At the end what matters is not what we believe but how we act and how we treat each other in the name of God.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church

2015/3/1 Messages received from Sermon “A New Name, A New Journey” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

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A New Name, A New Journey

 Messages received and meaning and history of names:

  • God changes names to give new vision and purpose, a new meaning to life.
  • We each have 2 names, our second name is “Christian”
  • Each of us lives up to 2 names, our given name and “Christian”
  • Tezenlo, beloved or please love him, my parents’ prayer for their first child
  • Nancy, full of grace
  • Chen, true happiness given to me by my grandfather, his wishes for his granddaughter
  • Teruko, shine or bright
  • Charlotte, named after my father Charley
  • Alisha, truth, named after my grandmother
  • Hondo, African for warrior
  • Molly, a happy Irish name for a little girl who is always smiling
  • Dante, from the Godfather movie and from the father of the Italian language
  • Soye, Little Jesus, from my parents
  • Eun Jung, right
  • Carla, wood cutter, given to me by my parents because they thought it sounded Japanese like Kara
  • Noel, I was born the day after Christmas
  • Paula, Latin for small (I was born prematurely) and named after my father’s best friend and well respected community leader who passed away shortly before I was born

2015/3/1 Sermon “A New Name, A New Journey” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

A New Name, A New Journey

(Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Mark 8:34-38)

What’s in a name? My name is given by parents, and it means “to be loved” or “beloved.” As their first child, my name carries my parents’ expectations, hope, prayers and wishes. Likewise, when my wife and I gave our children their names, we prayed and named them. The names we gave carry our hopes and wishes for their lives. So, names have meanings and significance.

The Bible is replete with examples of changed names. We see this fact in the reading from Genesis 17. Abram was changed to “Abraham,” which means “father of multitudes.” Sarai was changed to “Sarah,” which means “princess.” Also, Jacob becomes “Israel” (Genesis 35:10).

In the New Testament, we read in the gospels that Simon becomes “Peter, the rock.” Another familiar example is the changing of Saul to “Paul.” Saul who once persecuted the church is now changed into Paul – small or humble.

When we become Christians, we aren’t given new names as it used to be in olden days. But we are all given the name “Christian.” It comes from the Greek word Christianos, meaning followers of Christ. The word appeared only one time in the Bible – Acts 11:26.

You are given a new name – Christian. That is now your identity. That is who you are now. When God changes your name, your vision is also changed, and you gain a new perspective. You become a new person. Your priorities become difference. Your interest and desire become different. Your values become different. You have a new task or mission. And you are on a new journey for God.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church

Fumbly Bumbly Angels of Simpson

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Simpson’s own Angels and Friends presented The Fumbly Bumbly Angels, a delightful play written by Dennis Hartin.

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The Angels and Friends were captivating and as part of the play the congregation sang with them many of our favorite Christmas hymns.

 

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The story starts with the Fumbly Bumbly Angels being chosen to share in the bearing of good tidings about an event that will save all the people on earth and witness God’s greatest gift to the world.

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On their journey they meet shepherds and even Kings bearing gifts.

They meet the innkeeper who allowed Mary and Joseph to stay in his stable when they could find no lodging.

They meet the baby Jesus, the son of God, sent to earth to take away the sins of the world.

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They are witnesses to an event that will never be forgotten and is celebrated by the world every year.

For a job well done the angels earn a place in the Heavenly Choir leading the congregation in the finale song Joy to the World.

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Well done Simpson Angels and Friends!

 

 

 

 

Wish for Peace, Joy and Blessings Received Today

My friend Pat sent me the following message today.  This came after I drove through a cold snowstorm to get to work this morning.  What an inspirational message when I just wanted to be cold, wet and cranky!

I sincerely hope that with each passing day, you will feel more empowered and feel a greater sense of peace from within.  A wise pastor once told me to have faith.  That when in a winter’s phase of life, to remember that spring follows with new growth, new signs of life.  It is by this journey that we are given the opportunity for personal growth.

God’s abundant blessings to you.   Wishing you peace and joy, Pat

2014-11-16 Sermon “Investing in God; Risking for God” Pastor Tezenlo Thong, Simpson UMC

 

“Investing in God; Risking for God”

Matthew 25:14-30

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 Last Sunday’s parable talks about oil. This Sunday’s parable is about investment. That sounds very modern. I means very capitalistic. Was Jesus talking about capitalism? Could he have known the subprime mortgage crisis? Did he foresee the coming income disparity between the rich and the poor? Jesus couldn’t possibly be talking about investment in the modern sense of capitalism.

Some scholars suggest that the English word talent came from this parable. The word talent in English means a marked innate ability to do something. It means an ability of superior quality. America’s Got Talent or American Idol probably comes to mind. If talent here meant an extraordinary ability, most of us could easily find an excuse for not investing, for most of us are not gifted in this sense. In Greek, talent simply means scale or balance referring to a measurement of weight. It is not a reference to abilities.

God has endowed us. The “master” has given each of the servants a trust. The talents were given as a trust. The talent or wealth belonged to the master, not the servants. It was given to invest and bear fruit. Someone said, “Jesus saves; we invest.” Do we invest our life, time and resources for God? Do we work with the resources that God has given us?

The last servant was fearful of risk-taking. He was afraid of losing the money. Investment always involves risks. Love involves risk. Generosity has the risk of deception and betrayal. Hospitality invites risks and involves vulnerability. Still, we are called for prudent risk-taking. Otherwise, we could gradually slip into irrelevance and slow demise.

 

2014-11-9 Messages received from Sermon Simpson UMC “Awaiting the Fullness of the Kingdom of God” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Sermon “Awaiting the Fullness of the Kingdom of God” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Messages received:

  • As we journey through life we must have hope, help others to have hope and make a difference.
  • Consider whether our actions are guided by belief.
  • As we wait for the end of any journey, big or small, it is our responsibility to wait actively and not be idle but continue our service to God.
  • We can serve God by recognizing and serving those in need.
  • Keep hope and patience.
  • Don’t be lulled into inactivity, don’t let life’s journeys be unfulfilled.
  • To give is to receive, to replenish those in need is to replenish oneself.

 

 

Emily and Jake (formerly Mary and Jack)

A mostly true story but the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Updated!  The characters in this story have given me permission to use their real names.  Thank you Emily and Jake.

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This is the second time we had been to this building.  The last time was last week, exactly one week ago.

Emily was driving as usual and she was nervous for some reason.  She kept glancing over at me and smiling at me, making me suspicious, I suspected that she was trying to put me at ease.

I ignored her odd behavior, I was intent on having a good time tonight just like I did last week.

As we entered the building my anticipation intensified, and Emily’s anxiety intensified.

We were the last to arrive, and as we entered the group I saw that the other couples gave us a wide berth, it suddenly felt like we were an island separated from the others.  Wow maybe I wasn’t going to have a good time tonight!

As our leader entered the group, he was clearly puzzled and possibly exasperated as he almost shouted “Who is that crying like a baby?”

Half of the faces turned and looked at us as the other half turned away as if in punishment.

I looked at Emily adoringly, she had rescued me and I didn’t really want to let her down but I am a being who lives in the moment and at this moment I guess it was I that was crying like a baby.  Well not really crying I was just whining with anticipation of having a good time. The human half of the couples were staring at us, the other dogs were looking away in some kind of doggy embarrassment.

After only week, we were all already a pack – I think our pack is called puppy training class.  The others wanted us to succeed and supported us but didn’t know what to do and that’s why we had a leader who is called instructor or teacher.

Emily adopted me as an older puppy, I’m some kind of a lab mix and a real handful.  It’s possible and probable that I was unadoptable and she saved my life.

I adore Emily and just want to make her happy. I’m not sure how to do that yet but Emily is learning how to communicate with me and we’re going to make it work.

Wish us luck on our journey!

 

 

Yoga in the Sanctuary

 

Our Yoga group practices in the small sanctuary of Simpson UMC.

The stained glass windows and shoji screens make for a serene setting for our practice.

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We start our practice with a trio of “Oms”.  The Oms are to bring our focus to the group, send all worries to the top of the doorway (where they can be retrieved upon leaving or left to dissipate on their own) and remind us that for the next hour and a half we are there to support each other and to practice self-care.

We have supported each other on some trying journeys and we continue to grow as a caring and loving group.  Thank you fellow Yogis!

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