Tuesday, February 28, 2012

52 Weeks of Joy - Social Media

For those of you who know me, you know I am big into technology, especially when it comes to ways to connect with others. Facebook and Twitter are two of the outlets I use on a regular basis, and I read blogs galore to learn more about so many different issues.

And today I am looking at all of the Social Media stuff as one of the great joys in my life. The reason that this is such a great joy for is that it is all about the connection, all about the relationships. And as anyone who has ever heard me or read my stuff knows, relationships are essential to me.

Example - Last week in worship I noticed two young ladies who were new to the service. So I went up and introduced myself to them and it turns out that one of them had lung cancer surgery exactly one year after I did by the same surgeon. She had found my book somewhere, found out where I was through the websites out there, and wanted to come and talk with me. So after the service we all went out to lunch and shared in a great conversation.

That relationship started because of some social media links that we had. And that is why social media is my joy for the week.

What are your feelings about social media?

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Below is a sermon from a few years ago on our lesson for this week, Mark 1:9-15.

1st Sunday in Lent 2006
Mark 1:9-15

Today, on the first Sunday of Lent, our travels take us with Jesus as he is cast out into the wilderness by the Spirit and tempted for 40 Days. I always thought how interesting it was that this time of temptation occurs directly after his baptism. For right after he comes out of the water, and the Spirit descends on him like a dove, then God speaks, saying those beautiful words – You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased. And then the Spirit, that innocent looking little dove, grabs Jesus and tosses him out into the wilderness of life. There is no potluck celebration, no gift-giving, he is just thrown out to be with Satan and the wild beasts, to be tempted with all that life has to offer.

This started me thinking about what our lives are like after we are baptized. Do we expect that once we are claimed by God that life will be a bed of roses? Do expect that once we are washed in the water and the Word that we will have an easy ride? Okay, God claimed me, now I can just sit back and everything will be fine? Or do we expect that once we were brought out of those waters, now the temptations will come, and they will come fast and furious.

One of the struggles in being human is that no matter what, we will be tempted. Some of our temptations will no doubt come from Satan, but I think more of the temptations we face in our lives come from other humans, the wild beasts of creation as they may be. These temptations may be harder for us to face, for they are temptations with flesh on them.

Back in my first parish I had a dear member who was a major thorn in my side. Bill was an ornery old coot, and from day one he wanted to make my life as difficult as possible. You see, Bill never wanted the previous pastor to leave – and it was my fault that the previous pastor left, because I was the one who followed him, even though it had been nearly a year since his departure

So from the very beginning I had an uphill battle with Bill. After worship he would stand out in the parking lot and publicly critique my sermons in comparison with my predecessor. He would drive by the parsonage on a daily basis, and then go to the coffee shop and talk about what an awful job I was doing on the lawn. To say dealing with Bill was a struggle is putting it mildly, and he quickly became one of the wild beasts in the congregation.

One day one of the parishioners in the church called me up and told me that Bill’s brother had died. The parishioner then asked if I could go over and spend some time with Bill as he grieved. My first thought, as I hung up that phone, was no way. This man had made my life awful, and I had no desire whatsoever to spend any time with him. This was my temptation, to abandon a member of the flock in a time of need.

And it as a major temptation no doubt. I thought of many excuses I could use to not go over there, so valid, yet so very made up. But in the end, I knew that I was called to minister in this situation, even if I really did not want to. So after a very strong cup of coffee, I girded myself up, and drove out to Bill’s house. He welcomed me in, and I spent time with Bill as he wept over the loss of a loved one.

I shared with him those great promises that Christ had made, that neither life nor death could separate us from the love of God. I reminded him that Christ had promised that in the end all the tombs would be emptied and we would joyfully celebrate the gift of eternal life with all God’s children, and I sat and listened to the many stories that Bill told of the life he shared with his brother.

I still remember sitting there in my kitchen, and the fight I went through to battle this temptation to abandon this wild beast, and how God gave me the strength and the words to share, words of hope, forgiveness, and life.

Now I won’t lie, life with Bill after that encounter was not all rosy. He still held his critique sessions in the parking lot. He still drove by the house and inspected the lawn. But through that time in the wilderness with Bill, I was changed. Through this time of temptation, the Spirit led me into a struggle that I did not want to face, and in the process, the Sprit strengthened my faith in my calling as well as in God’s desire to love all of creation, even the wild beasts.

God strengthened my in the call that Jesus gives to each and every one of us – the call to be about mission. The call to love the unlovable, the call to journey with the outcasts, the call to go into the wilderness, and face the temptations that come our way.

And so we continue on this journey. We continue to hear God telling us that many times in our lives we will feel like we are being thrown out into the wilderness and the wild beasts will be tempting us at every turn. But we also know that we do not enter this wilderness, or face these temptations, alone. For Christ faced temptations in his life as well, and he is the one who journeys with us into the dark areas of life. He is the one who will face the wild beasts with us. And in the end, he is the one who will strengthen us through these temptations: Strengthen us in our love of God; Strengthen us in love for our neighbors; Even strengthen us in our love for the wild beasts of creation

For through Christ, all things will be made new. That means that through Christ, and even through the temptations we face with him, we will be made new again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water, Water, Water ...melon

Today is the start of Lent, a season of reflection and penitence. It is also a season that brings back a family tradition in the Jelinek household.

A little background: When we were teaching Sierra to brush her teeth we wanted to make sure that she would brush them long enough every morning, so we would sing a song to her while she brushed. And, being the pastors we are, it was a church song - Halle, Halle, Hallelujah. Below is a link of the song from another church:

Well, when lent comes the church omits the Hallelujahs from worship. For this somber season it is too joyful, and we wait to sing them until Easter Sunday.

And Sierra has decided that she should omit the Hallelujahs from her morning teeth brushing rituals as well. So what she has done is keep the tune, but changed the words. During the season of lent she sings, "Water, Water, Water ...melon."

So today she comes running down stairs and says, "Daddy, guess what I sang today while I was brushing my teeth?"

Gotta love the liturgy of teeth brushing in lent.

So what will you be doing different during lent this year?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pinkeye and the Home Office

So yesterday morning the pinkeye bug hit Scarlett. She woke up with her eye gooped shut and after a trip to convenient care we procured some eye drops and started the healing process. The thing with pinkeye is that once the medication is started she has to stay away from others for 24 hours.

That means that Dad is working from home today.

Because of the gift of technology, working from home is pretty easy. I have access to all of my computer files, I can still e-mail articles to the office and other staff, I can text info out as I need to. But there is one major temptation that comes with working at home - sometimes I just want to sit and play with my little girl.

Most of the time she plays by herself very well. She puts her animals to sleep, plays with her trains, and does puzzles. Occasionally she will snag my iPad from me and play games on it or go to nickjr on the computer for games.

But then there are the times she wants to snuggle and watch a show or dance or play hide and seek. It is hard to say no to that.

So today I will be working from home. I am sure that there will be distractions, but they are distractions that are very worthwhile. And if I have to put in a few hours after she goes to bed or go in to the office earlier tomorrow, it is worth it. For the amount of time I have to snuggle with this little one is limited and I am going to take full advantage of it.

What are some of the positive distractions you have in your life?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How Others Help Heal Us

In one of the readings for today we hear the story of Naaman and how he was healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14). In this story we see how God uses people, slaves, people of other nations, kings, and prophets, to help heal Naaman. It is the power of God working in and through people.

So today I was thinking about the many ways that God continues to help heal through those who are around us. We know of how this happens with doctors and nurses, with psychiatrists and mental health experts, with physical therapists and holistic healers, but what about how God helps to heal others through us, through our family, through our friends?

Some of my most profound healing moments have happened at the healing touch of a friend or a loved one. It might have been the shoulder rub during a time of extreme stress, the hug during a time of loss, or the gentle, comforting word when I was at my lowest point. All of this is healing, and it is a healing touch that is given to us from God through others.

So how have you been granted a healing touch in your life? And can you think of times when you have been the one giving the healing touch?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Beloved

This afternoon I led two services at nursing homes in town. During the services I focused on Mark 1 - the baptism of Jesus. The part that stuck with me, and what I centered the service on, was where God spoke from heaven and said, "This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased."

It stuck with me because this is the same thing that God says to us - this is my child, my son, my daughter ... this is my beloved, and with you I am well pleased.

And he is pleased with us not because of what we have done or not done in our lives, but rather he is pleased with us because of who we are - his children. This love of his is so great that he will always be our God, and even when we make mistakes, when we falter and fail, he still loves us. He loves us because we are his and always will be.

So listen again as God calls to you - you are my child, you are my beloved, and with you God is well pleased.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

52 Weeks of Joy - The Frog Tongue

Yesterday Scarlett and I had a Daddy/Daughter day. Jen was out shopping and Sierra was at school so the two of us took of for the day.

Our first stop was, surprise, surprise, Starbucks. Yup, with a day filled with Scarlett, I needed my coffee. So we had our drinks and snacks (she had apple juice), we then took off to the mall for a little play time.

And that is where the joy of the frog tongue comes into play. In this play area (as you can see above in an older picture) there is a frog tongue that spans a 10 foot area. It is a great toy to play on, and it burns energy like crazy.

So as I was watching Scarlett run and play I had one of those moments of pure joy. Seeing her laugh and smile, watching her jump and squeal with delight. It was one of those times when everything seems right in the world

Now I will admit, not all of life is like that, there are the struggles and times of darkness. And I guess that is why I treasure these moments of pure joy even more.

When was your last moment of pure joy?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mark 1 - Healing

Below is an excerpt from a sermon a few years back on the Gospel lesson for today: Mark 1:29-39.

Healing is something all of us need at one time or another in our lives. We need healing from infirmities, healing from broken hearts, healing from grief and loss, just to be made whole once again.

Throughout this Epiphany we have encountered a number of healing stories in the lectionary. They are stories of Jesus casting out demons and strengthening the afflicted. Today, we continue on that journey of healing with Jesus, and this time it gets personal, at least for one of the disciples.

In the first healing story in this lesson we see that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick and in bed. When Jesus is invited over to Simon’s the first thing he does is go in and care for this woman. He takes her hand, takes her fever, lifts her up, and makes her whole once again. One interesting point in this story, the mother-in-law never says a word. There is no confession of faith, no showing of belief, only receiving the gift of healing.

The healing stories in the lessons for today spoke to me because of where I walk with people in their lives, and because of where my life has been before and will be again at some point. You see, we are all broken, and we need Christ to come to us. We need Christ to heal, forgive, and love us. We need Christ to make us whole.

And it is throughout Scripture, throughout our lives, we see that God does exactly that. Yes, God comes to us in valleys of life, in times of sorrow, despair, and need. And he embraces us with loving arms. No, God doesn’t require us to climb mountain to find him, but instead comes to us in muck and mire of life. And it is there there, in those deep valleys, that we have those God moments, those healing touches we so desperately need.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Today I have been thinking about healing, especially the healing touch of God in our lives.

As humans, we all know that there are times when we need healing in our lives. It may be minor healing - such as bumps and bruises. It may be major health issues healing. It may be emotional or spiritual healing. It may be healing from bitterness, be judgmental, or jealousy. There are many areas and parts of our lives that need healing.

So what do you need healing from today?

Take a few minutes and ask God for his healing touch in your life. Offer up to him all that is hurting you, all of your pain, your sorrow, your illness, whatever it may be. And as you offer it to him, allow him to take this pain from you and shower you with his gift of a healing touch in your life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

52 Weeks of Joy - Love

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
                                                            Psalm 136:1

As I read through this psalm not too long ago, my eyes were drawn to the word “love.” Love is a powerful emotion, and it has enhanced my life in mind-boggling ways. Thinking about love pulls me to my family – my wife Jennifer and our girls, Sierra and Scarlett. These three give me life. They shower me with love and hugs and kisses every day. It is near impossible to have a bad day when a little girl climbs on my lap, kisses me on the cheek, and asks to have a book read to her. Yes, love is powerful and I experience it in this gift of family.

So today I am celebrating the joy of love and family. I am thankful for the blessings they have given me, for the support and nurture that I need. I am thankful for the difficult days that I have with them, because in the struggles the bonds of love grow stronger and the celebration are all that more joyful. I am truly blessed with this family, and thankful for them.