Sunday, June 13, 2021

Emotional Intelligence and Communion

According to secular research, what would you say is the most significant predictor of future success in relationships, health, and quality of life?  It is believed that those with this skill can have an average IQ and outperform those with the highest IQ 70% of the time.

Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

High emotional intelligence allows us to be self-aware of our feelings to help us keep our cool when we could quickly fly off the handle. It enables us to identify conflicting selfish feelings that keep us from putting others first, even if that means we will not get our way. It helps us identify feelings that make us want to lash out at others instead of speaking a calm word to create a peaceful solution. 

Many in corporate America are working to improve their emotional intelligence. Bosses are looking for emotionally intelligent employees, and millions of dollars are spent on seminars and books because emotional intelligence can be improved.

I find it interesting that many of us who have grown up in the church have been trained in emotional intelligence since we were kids. Sunday school and youth group classes taught us to love others. We have been taught that love means to be patient, kind, not envy, not boast, not be rude or proud, to always protect, trust, hope, and persevere.  We were taught to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. So with all of this training, how are we doing?

I want to invite you all to embrace the preaching on the Sermon on the Mount by Pastor Rick. Pray about it during the week. Read about it. Talk about it with your families. Jesus’ teachings help us improve our emotional intelligence.

Communion helps us focus on the importance of the first statement in the sermon on the mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Happy are those who acknowledge their spiritual poverty. We need a savior.  When we realize how amazing it is that God enables us to be with Him through Christ, it drives us to love Him and others with is the foundation for improving our EI.

As you prepare for communion, reflect on how you are doing with your emotional intelligence. How well do you recognize your emotions and the emotions of others when you:

  1. Don’t feel like it.

  2. Don’t get your way.

  3. Those around you let you down.

  4. Others don’t meet your expectations.

As a church, let’s be leaders in our awareness of our emotions and how they impact others.  May we grow in self-discipline when it would be easier to react emotionally. Through Christ’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be transformed in how we speak to those we encounter, act when we are tired and frustrated, and in the habits we build. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Communion and the Four Fs

Good Morning.  As we prepare our hearts for communion, I would like to read:  1 cor 11:23-27

I am excited to get to do the communion thought the week after Christmas and the week before New Year’s eve.  I love communion and I love the end of the year as an opportunity to reflect on what went well and where growth can occur in the future.  Based upon our reading this morning, there are two major themes to consider at communion time.

Two major themes:

#1. Communion allows us to focus on His body and His blood.  We purposefully come together to focus on what really matters-  Our hope in Christ.  There is power in remembering His past, the present with Him, and our future in Him.   

#2. Examine ourselves as we reflect on Him. Examine where we have been in the past, where we are now, and where we might be in the future in our relationships with Christ.  This year I learned one of the most important elements of learning is proper reflection.   Do you struggle with this concept? Is it hard for you to focus and reflect? If so, here is a little tool you may find helpful borrowed from the reflection toolkit from The University of Edinburgh:

The four Fs:

  • Facts: An objective account of what happened

  • Feelings: The emotional reactions to the situation

  • Findings: The concrete learning that you can take away from the situation

  • Future: Structuring your learning such that you can use it in the future

Let’s pray:

Father thank you for Jesus- Thank you for dying on the cross for us.  Thank you for giving us your spirit now and guiding us in this present moment.  We welcome your presence.  Thank you for giving us a future here on earth and in eternity with you.  

Father, where we fall short, we pray you will help us change the way we think as individuals and as a church.  Help us be transformed.   Father open our eyes to the facts that matter most. Help us be objective. Help us be aware of our feelings and how our emotional reactions impact others and our growth in you.  Teach us to use the findings, the concrete take home messages from our experiences, to grow and to make great changes as individuals and as a church in the future.  Help us be transformed not only as individuals, but as a church.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Power of a Good Time Out!

The past few months, I have come to appreciate the power of a good time out.  Unfortunately, not because I called a time out when a time out needed to be called, but I failed to call a time out when one was in order.   In both instances (one in a championship softball game and one in a social gathering), I believe a time out may have changed the outcome.  Here it is:

Have you ever been part of a team that used time outs wisely?  In other words,  whether they were winning or losing, they knew when to call a time out and the decision led to strengthening the team or shifting the momentum in their favor.  

Perhaps you were part of a winning or losing team this week. In either case, perhaps you feel the need to call a time out?

That’s exactly what Jesus did for us when he encouraged us to meet for communion any time we got together as a family of believers to remember our roots. 

At this time, let’s imagine that we are in a big huddle. Let’s listen to what Jesus and His disciples might say in a huddle.  time out!

Our father you are awesome!  You are unlike any other father and we welcome your spirit that gives us power, love, and self-discipline. Help us relax right now. If there is any tension in our bodies, help us to shut it off.   Satan- you are not welcome here.  Leave. Help us rest in this moment peacefully knowing you, the creator of known and unknown things and places, are in control. 

As we examine our thoughts, behaviors, and habitual ways of thinking, speaking, and doing, both as individuals and as a church, we pray you will help us focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure lovely, and admirable.  Help us focus on things that are excellent and praiseworthy.  

We confess where we fall short and pray you will help us change the habits that need changed and build those habits that bring you glory.  

Help us never to be lacking in zeal but to keep our spiritual fervor serving you. Help us be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Help us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, 

Help us to be slow to come to our boiling point when it comes to forgiveness and help us forgive.  Father, we know we are called to vote once every four years, but we are called to be your church every day. We know you did not come to take sides, but that you take over.  

Help us to make every effort to do what is right in the eyes of everyone and to live at peace with everyone. Help us to go and make disciples of all nations.

In Jesus Name.  Body that was broken for you.  Blood that was shed for you.  Let’s get back out there and do this…  Ready… Break...

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Judgment Vs. Mercy

Question: When it comes to relationships, would you say it is easier to focus on who is right or wrong or to extend unconditional forgiveness?  In any relationship- especially marriage, grace and mercy go a super long way.  It is guaranteed that any day and any moment I am going to need to be forgiven when I don’t deserve it.  I am so glad I have a wife who forgives and forgets.

Communion is an opportunity to celebrate forgiveness we don’t deserve!  Communion reminds us that forgiveness matters way more than deciding who is right or wrong. It is natural for us to want to discover who was wrong and then dwell on it.  However,  James 2:13 states mercy triumphs over Judgment. Our default is judgment, but it takes work to learn to extend mercy.  Matt 9:13. States, but go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. In other words- anyone can point fingers, anyone can figure out who was wrong, but undeserved forgiveness takes major self discipline!  

When we remember that we all have received forgiveness we do not deserve, when that really sets in, it changes how we treat one another.  We begin to be more forgiving and more accepting of one another.  Christ becomes more and we become less.  This is when the power of Christ is unleashed in our lives.  2 Corinthians 12: 9, My grace is sufficient for you.  My power is made perfect in weakness."   

Forgiveness is powered by love and we know in Ephesians 3:19  that love surpasses knowledge.  The goal is to grow in love more than knowledge. The goal is not to grow in proving who is right, but to grow in the ability to forgive and love others when they don’t deserve it.  

Communion reminds us of the power of forgiveness and love.  1 Corinthians 11:24-25 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Let’s pray:

Father, thank you for this moment that reminds us how much God loves us: not the feeling love, but the action love. The love that is patient.  The love that keeps no record of wrongs.  The love that always protects, always, trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   The love that never fails. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A Time of Extremes

We want to welcome our onsite and online family this morning.  As we prepare for communion, we are reminded to focus on Christ, His body that was broken for us and His blood that was shed for us.  

 We are also reminded the reason we gather is because we are part of His body.  Just as the eyes and ears serve their own function.  We, together, serve an important function.  Communion is a time to recharge through repentance and remembrance so that we can be the powerful unit together that we were called to be.  

 You see, it could be easy for our body of believers to be torn right now. 

 We are in a time of extremes where it is  very uncomfortable to be in the middle.  For instance, some think this whole Covid thing has been blown out of proportion to a great degree and  are huggers!   While others believe that we should continue to be locked in our homes and make no contact at all. Others are somewhere in the messy middle and it’s hard because you know we have to get back into living, but you aren’t so sure it has to be done right now. 

 We watch and listen to lessons being learned from the tragedy with George Floyd. Some believe we should defund the police and take over city blocks while others don’t understand why there is so much opposition and protest. Others are somewhere in the messy middle and it’s hard because you are trying to understand why not being racist isn’t enough.  

 Christ calls our church to be leaders in these times and gives us his Holy Spirit to do things that we could never imagine doing.  He gives us the power to love others no matter where we (or they) are.

 And so I want to have you all close your eyes as we prepare to meditate on Christ’s body and our role here today. For it is during this time of remembrance, where we will find power in unity through love to help our body become stronger than ever.

 Let’s pray: Father, thank you for bringing us here today. Thank you Jesus for your examples of love through miracles.  If you can turn water into wine, we know you can rejuvenate our spirits.


If you can feed 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, we know you can give us double doses of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.  


If you can allow the blind man to see, we know you can open our eyes to the injustice that exists in our world and help us engage our brothers and sisters in a loving manner.  


Father, you wept when you saw Lazarus in his grave. But then you did the impossible and brought him back to life.  We pray for that same power to restore our spirits in our lives.  


In Jesus name amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Communion 2020: Guided Imagery

How are you doing?  What’s up?  I love and hate those questions.   There is a lot up, but we don’t have time to go over it all!  Imagine we are all sitting at a big table. We are here as a church family and there is a gigantic round table and we are about to eat together.  We are going to talk.  Jesus sits down with us.    Pause.  Take a deep sigh breath.   I am going to give you a few moments to imagine sharing with Jesus your thoughts.  Things you are happy about and things you are worried and upset about.  I am going to wait about 20-30 seconds.  Cue to take a deep breath and then read another verse.    Pause.  Take a deep sigh breath.

For those who don’t feel they know the truth: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   John 14:6 NIV   “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   John 8:31-32

Pause.  Take a deep sigh breath

For those who feel down, depressed, sad, and overwhelmed:  “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:9-10 NIV

Pause Deep breath.  

For those who are confused.  Eph 3:19 and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power to grasp how wide and long high and deep is the love of Christ and to know His love that surpasses knowledge.  

Pause Deep breath.  

For those who keep messing up.  I can’t break the habit.  Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Pause Deep breath

A reminder why we are here in this moment:  “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”  1 Corinthians 11:23-29 NIV

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Don't be like "little Andy"

As we prepare for communion- A time to remember Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, I want to encourage you all not to be like "little Andy."  

Before I go into detail, I am going to give you four words to remember and repeat back after my short communion thought:  Protects.  Trusts.  Hopes.  Perseveres.

Do you remember receiving gifts as a kid?  Do you remember how excited you were?  Did you ever open one present and then without pausing to think about what you had just received hurry and open the next present?  That is how "little Andy" sometimes handled his gift opening.  Sometimes the temptation to see what was next overcame my ability to focus on the gift I had just received.

As communion time is here we are encouraged to examine our hearts.  We are charged to take the bread which represents his body that was broken for us and the juice which represents his blood that was shed for us with a focus on Christ.  I remember some Sundays growing up when my Dad would not take communion.  His focus was off.  Whether it be a problem at home or at work, he would not take communion unless his focus was strong enough to be on Christ.

If you are like me, you struggle with focus at times.   What were the four words you were asked to remember?

I am going to pray and teach you how these four words help me focus during communion.  Feel free to use the same exercise at this time to help you not be like "little Andy." 

Dear Jesus, thank you for protecting us through your death, burial, and resurrection.  Thank you for predicting your death, dying, and coming back to life which allows us to trust that you are who you said you are and that you will do what you said you would do.  Thank you for the hope of heaven.   Thank you Holy Spirit for giving us the power to be relentless in perseverance.  Amen