Hunting the good stuff

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things.
(Isaiah 25:1 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 12 October 2014)

Isaiah sounds so joyful. He is raising his hands, maybe jumping up and down because he is so happy. He’s praising God with all he’s got. Maybe a few tears mixed in with that big fat smile on his face. Pure excitement. That is beautiful thing: “I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things.” As long as things are merry and bright that’s fine. But what if Isaiah’s mood really depended on God’s input? What if our feelings depended on other people’s actions? It may sound innocent to say: “You make me happy!” But what about: “You make me sad!”?

In reality happiness, sadness, anger, joy, frustration, fear, confidence are not things anyone can give you. They are your reactions to what life throws at you. At the very core everybody is in charge of their own emotions and we all decide which trigger we allow to push our buttons. Nobody can make me mad unless I decide to react to them in a made manner.

Again Isaiah: “I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things.” Here the prophet says: You, God, are allowed to stir up my heart, to shake my soul, to transform the way I look at myself and the world around me. I will allow your actions to have an impact on me.

Whom do you allow to push your buttons like that? The way your parents treated you does not have to determine how you will live your own life. Yet you may embrace what you learned from them and allow them to have an impact on your future. Same with God: Isaiah remembers the wonderful things he has experienced with God in the past and he decides to let that be the guide for a bright future.

Can you join Isaiah in inviting God into your life like that?
My future is determined by Your past!
My actions are consequences of Your actions!
My future is Your praise!
I am hunting the good stuff that You provide!

I hope that the church may be able to look at itself that very same way: That the glorious past of our church is not just our good old days but that they are reasons to celebrate God’s past. They don’t have to determine what our church’s future may look like. No past ever has and ever should be recreated. So let’s hunt the good stuff for God’s future!

My Germany

On October 29th from 6-7 p.m. the Rev. Daniel Haas is going to show and talk about what his Germany looked like growing up there. This will include a wide variety of topics ranging from food to religion, from landscapes to buildings, from history to culture. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this free hour-long trip to a country that has influenced Texas in many ways and is still represented by a vibrant local community.
Please RSVP on Facebook.

Installation of Rev. Daniel Haas

You are invited to the Installation of Rev. Daniel Haas, as the Pastor and Teacher of St. John’s UCC on Sunday, September 28 at 3:00 p.m. in the sanctuary.  Rev. Douglas Anders, the South Central Conference Minister will give the afternoon sermon entitled, “The Call of Jesus and Your Call”.  The offering will benefit C.U.E. Seminaries of the UCC.  Holy Communion will be observed.  A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Kroger’s Community Rewards Program

When you register your Kroger’s Card and select The Brotherhood of St. John’s  United Church of Christ as your reward partner, then each time that you use your card for purchases at Kroger’s a percentage is given back to The Brotherhood, and therefore the church.  You must have your Kroger’s card in hand along with a valid e-mail address when registering.  It only takes a few minutes and must be re-registered each August.  The account number for The Brotherhood is 84302 and there is a place for you to enter this number towards the end of your registeration.  You may go to or hold down the Control key on your keyboard while double clicking on this hyperlink and it will automatically take you to the Kroger’s registration page.

Dead or Alive!

Wanted Dead or Alive: Billy the Kid
How much are you worth dead or alive? For Billy the Kid that question was answered by the Governor of New Mexico: $500. It did not matter if bounty hunters brought him dead or alive. Well, I guess it did matter to William H. Bonney and his parents when he was in fact shot dead at age 21. Would you rather live or die? Would you prefer your kids to live or die? Those sound like crazy questions. Yet here comes the Apostle Paul:

“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
(Philippians 1:21 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 21 September 2014)

Really? Dying as a good thing? Wouldn’t every sane person chose life over death? Is Paul suicidal?
As a matter of fact, we all say those things from time and to time and they make perfect sense in the right context. When comforting the bereaved phrases like “She’s in a better place now” are perfectly true. Ultimately we have to say both:

1. God put me on this planet to live and bloom where I am planted.
2. And when I wither, I am just as much in God’s hands as I have always been.

Dead or alive you are priceless to God and the price that was paid for you goes by the name of Jesus Christ.

Scouts Yard Sale

The Cub Scouts will hold a yard sale on Saturday, September 13 from 7:00 a.m. until noon.  Please drop by and support the scouts.  Should you have anything to donate to the yard sale, please deliver items to the church on Friday, September 12.


When I sneeze one thing really gets me every time – someone responding with a big, fat, friendly “GESUNDHEIT!” In a context where I do not expect to hear my native German I am caught by surprise. Most people will say “God bless you!” anyway. After a little research I found that the ritual of blessing someone after a sneeze dates back to the plague of 590 AD. Pope Gregory I ordered that everyone receive an instant special blessing after they sneezed. A sneeze was one of the early symptoms and so the church tried to do its part in containing the epidemic. The blessing after a sneeze is – not surprisingly – a prayer for Gesundheit i.e. health.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.”
(Psalm 103:2 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 14 September 2014)
Blessing one another sounds like an easy thing to do but this word commands us to bless God. How can we do that? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? We need God’s blessing! God is Almighty! How could we tiny, imperfect creatures possibly bless the Creator of heaven and earth?

What is it we actually do when we bless one another or when we ask God to bless us?
It’s about wishing someone well: May your health get better.
It’s about hoping the best for someone: I wish you luck.
It’s about supporting someone: That’s a good cause. I’ll help you.

Can you see the picture? God really does need our blessing. We are God’s hands and feet in this world. If we are not here to spread faith, hope and love, who is? We need to help God and support God’s ministry. And we should also want God to feel well. After all can you imagine what that would look like if the creator of heaven and earth were to sneeze? Bless God!