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Sanctuary Service: 8:45 & 10 A.M.
Open Door Service: 11:15 A.M.
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Just a Thought or Two: Fired With Grace

Worship with us this Sunday

8:45 AM & 10 AM | Classic Worship
in the Sanctuary at First Methodist

11:15 AM | Contemporary Worship
The Open Door at Buskirk-Chumley Theater



When storms come, you learn something about the trees in the forest. Sharon and I love to walk the trails in Brown County State Park. Along the trail you can see trees that have fallen during storms. On the outside the trees look strong but if you look closely the inside tells you the trees were actually hollow. There was very little “there” on the inside even though they stood tall under blue skies.

When storms come, you learn something about how a building has been constructed. Some buildings endure when others collapse. I remember hearing a report from south Florida about a contractor who put his homes together so carefully that they had unusual strength. They looked like other homes but they were built to withstand high winds.

Like most Indiana University basketball fans, I have been watching the end of the Tom Crean era at IU. (Wait: if you are not a sports person, please keep reading because this short devotional isn’t really about sports!)


The debris of bitterness

You might call them “life storms.” A promotion or grant goes to someone when we seemed to deserve it. A biopsy comes back positive and now our world is turned-upside down. The person we love turns out to love us but “not in that way.” A position we have held, a role we have given our heart to, is taken away from us and we are told the business or organization is “going a different direction.” You might call them “life storms.”

They often leave behind the debris of bitterness. You’ve seen the reaction in others. You may have gone through a season in your life when the storm left behind the debris of bitterness in you. You may have lashed out at others or withdrawn from the world or decided it would never be safe again to trust.

But that isn’t what we have seen from Tom Crean.


The Duke shirt

The only time Coach Crean and I actually had a few minutes to talk, face-to-face with no one else around; I was sitting in Moe’s on a weeknight eating supper by myself and outlining the sermon. I had come from the Y, and after wearing IU gear all week I was wearing a DUKE t-shirt and shorts. There were only one or two other customers when Coach Crean walked in, ordered take-out for the family, and stood waiting for things to be ready. I debated whether to approach him wearing my DUKE t-shirt but decided to take the risk.

I introduced myself. I told Coach Crean that I had tremendous respect for him, and that I had a feeling he may have thought he was stepping into a mud-puddle when it was actually a 20-foot deep sinkhole. “I imagine you in one of those old Laurel & Hardy films where they would step into the puddle and disappear. All you would see would be their hat floating there on the surface.” So we talked about what he had walked into when he arrived at IU, and it hadn’t been pretty.

I wanted him to know he was doing a good job, and I respected him. Then, I apologized for the DUKE t-shirt. “All week I’ve been wearing IU stuff,” I explained, “and I am a huge IU fan. But I’m also a Duke grad.”

Coach Crean was gracious. He said, “The t-shirt is okay. You don’t have to apologize.” (Two of our three sons are IU grads, and they told me Coach lied: the DUKE t-shirt was NOT okay!)


Grace and faith come through the broken places

This devotional isn’t about whether the decision taken by the IU athletic program is right, but it is about the man Tom Crean is on the inside. Indianapolis reporter, Bob Kravitz, interviewed Coach Crean this week and the grace shown by the former Hoosier coach is amazing.

“Time and again,” Kravitz writes, “I gave (Coach Crean) chances to take issues with Glass and his decision; time and again, he spoke warmly about Glass and his family, spoke glowingly about the school and the community and insisted he truly wants to see IU win lots of basketball games.”

Clearly, Tom Crean is hurt by the decision, Kravitz observes. Coach Crean said, “I told my family, ‘We’re not going to let this define us, as a coach, as a family, define what we did as a program. We did not fail. I’m doing everything in my power to not lose sight of that.”

Later, Tom said this: “Faith is such a big thing for me. I said to a friend of mine the other day, you have to be the spiritual leader of your home. That doesn’t mean pullout a Bible every day or take them to church every Sunday — that’s part of it, sure — but leading your own family. So is he disappointed? Absolutely. Disappointment happens. Discouragement is a choice. I heard a pastor in Atlanta say that once, and it’s always stayed with me.”

Coach Crean is grateful for the outpouring of love and support.


Fired with grace

A friend of mine, Rick, was a gifted potter. He would fire his creations, and the fire didn’t destroy them but made them beautiful.

Storms reveal something about what is on the inside. Faith, grace, strength, and love often shine through our broken places. The world learns something about us when they see how we react to the storms that come through.

Paul, who went through times of terrible hardship (include beatings, imprisonment, and shipwreck), wrote in Romans 5:4: “We know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

In his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians (4:8), Paul said this: “We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.” The reason, as he would later say, was because he had confidence that, “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus.”


Thanks, Coach.

Thanks for rebuilding Indiana basketball. Thanks for graduating your players. Thanks for caring. And thanks for letting us see your faith, love, courage, and grace through you when the storm hit!

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Remember, this year our Lenten/Easter offering will go to the Korean UMC Parsonage Project. Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000 by Easter Sunday, April 16th.

Join me in praying about our Lenten/Easter Offering.

Join me in saving money so when Easter Sunday arrives, we can exceed our $20,000 goal.

Join me helping the beautiful work of the Korean UMC on East 3rd to continue and thrive!

To read more about the project, see last week’s Just a Thought.


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Mark your calendars for our Easter Eggstravaganza on Saturday, April 8th. Be sure to reserve a spot for your family here: fumcb.org/eggs2017

And remember to invite your friends & family to join you in worship for Holy Week and Easter Services at First Methodist and The Open Door. See the schedule listed below or online at fumcb.org/easter

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See you this Sunday as we look at the mystery, mess, and miracle that God often brings when God shows up in our lives. The story is about a man born blind, and what happens when the Galilean shows up in John 9:1-12. The sermon title? “I Don’t Know.”

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark


First Methodist