I am a goal oriented person. I like to make lists of things that I want to accomplish. For a long time I had a list of 100 things that I want to do before I die. But here is the thing about goals. Unless you are diligent about them and unless you have a plan as to how you are going to accomplish them – goals without a plan are just dreams. A few years ago I adopted a word system to help guide me throughout the year. I read a few blogs of people who were doing this and I jumped on the bandwagon. Here are the words that I used in the past 2011 – Acceleration, Mindfulness, and Learning 2012 – Simplify, Share and Balance 2013- Transform, Practice, and Completion 2014 – Create, Compete, Complete Then in 2015 I realized that my ADD was getting the best of me and I narrowed the list of three to a list of one. I used one word that would guide decisions and help me accomplish my goals for the year. In 2015 my word was Transform. In 2016 my word was Health. In 2017 my word was Inspire and in 2018 my word was prepare. By doing this I was able to accomplish many things in my life including start a podcast, lose over 50 pounds, participate in a mastermind, become a foster parent, build a website, attend conferences that have inspired me, take huge leaps in my financial management and so much more. In 2019 […]
One of the habits I have adopted the last few years is to look back at my year and reflect upon a few questions: What went well? What did not go well? and What changes will I make this year? This year I want to take my reflection to the next level and deepen my reflection. I am using an outline from Michael Hyatt. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? If I was to write a movie of my life this past year it would be a drama. So many wonderful yet challenging things happened this year. In January my wife and I finished our classes to become foster parents. We finished our class on a Wednesday by Friday we had our first two foster kids in our home. Over the course of the next six months we fostered 10 children. As new kids came into our house we were driving around for parent visits, doctor visits, after school programs and whatever else came up during their stay with us. I was one of the most difficult yet gratifying expereinces of my life, and there was plenty of drama. What were a few major themes that kept recurring? The first theme of the year was saying good-bye. Throughout the year we said good-bye to kids who stayed with us through foster care. We said good-bye to a congregation and community that we dearly loved as I changed Pastoral […]
As a parish pastor I have a lot going on every single day of the week. In order to keep my life and my ministry in order I need help. That’s why I rely on digital tools to stay on top of appointments, meetings and to do lists. I was able to take my digital tools to a whole new level in 2006 when I got my first smartphone (the Palm Treo 650). It had an astounding 24mb memory and a .3 megapixel camera. I was in heaven. I never felt more productive and I knew this was the wave to the future. The best part for me was the integration of my phone and my calendar, no longer did I have to carry two devices (a phone and Palm Pilot) around; everything was integrated into one device. Eventually this lead to the iPhone (I got my first in 2008) as I transitioned out of seminary and I took on my first position as a pastor and I have remained an Apple Fanboy ever since. Over the years I have tested many, many, many apps. There have been some that I have used almost everyday since I downloaded them and others that I have deleted after only a few days of testing. I would like to share with you 10 apps that I currently use that have enabled me to succeed in ministry and to stay (somewhat) organized. Fantastical – This is my calendar app. This is integrated into my […]
A sermon by Pastor Joe McGarry
A Sermon by Pastor Joe McGarry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1tgh3rmH7A&t=377s
A Sermon by Pastor Joe McGarry
I am excited to announce my new call to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Kensington, CT. Below is the letter I sent to the people of Faith Lutheran Church Gardner, MA. My last Sunday at Faith will be on June 24th. I am thankful and grateful for the support I have received from the people of Faith and I am looking forward to new adventures in Kensington.
We recently read John 3: 16 in worship. When you think about John 3: 16 what comes to your mind? Maybe you think of the guy in the rainbow-colored wig sitting between the uprights holding the sign painted with the world’s most famous verse. But when I think of John 3:16, I think of six year-old Benjamin, protesting his bedtime, and I’m reminded of God’s unexpected, surprising grace. Sometimes I say the phrase “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son to die…..” too often because it loses it’s significance. God did not send Jesus to simply deliver a message, God sent Jesus to die, to die on a cross, to die on a cross for us. This is why, as Martin Luther once said, this verse is “the gospel in a nutshell.” God never asked for our permission to send Jesus to the cross. In fact, God does not ask us to do anything for our salvation. If you are ever told that you need to do something to earn Gods love you can know that person is lying to you – you do not have to profess Jesus as your personal savior, you do not have to attend a bunch of classes you don’t have to do anything because Gods love is a free gift and it lasts forever.
Three years ago when I moved to Gardner I knew I wanted to get involved with the community. Moving here from a small town in New York I was aware of the importance of not only getting to know the people in my congregation but also the movers and shakers in the community. One day I received a letter from the Gardner Rotary club inviting me to have a conversation about becoming a Rotarian. I thought it would be nice to have a conversation and learn more about the Rotary Club and have a better understanding as to what they do in the community and for the community. I sat down with Joe Guercio and Dawn Casavant and they talked about all the of the service projects the Rotary does and the connection Rotary has all around the world. I was impressed. The purpose of a local Rotary club is to connect people who then work together to solve community problems, provide humanitarian aid, and promote goodwill and peace. Rotary clubs exist all around the world, and Rotary International has over 1.2 million members. Their motto is “Service Above Self.” Rotarians are committed to creating inroads with people so that opportunities to serve will arise from those connections. The Rotarian philosophy is that mutual service is the best way to create thriving businesses and societies. A Rotary club is committed to ethical practices in business and holds high ideals for personal behavior. Rotary clubs ask four questions—the Four-way Test—to be […]
Martin Luther changed the world with an idea. The question that every religion asks and seeks to answer is how to we get to God. Many of us have a relationship with God, but how do we truly know if we have a place in heaven? In almost every case the answer is like a ladder. Every good work that we do, every time we go to church, every time we say a prayer we are one rung closer to heaven. If we are faithful enough, if we pray enough and read our bible then we will secure our place it heaven. Martin Luther became a monk and he prayed, fasted, studied, and learned that he needed to do to be a faithful Christian. The problem was that no matter how high Luther climbed on that ladder he could never discover God. We still have ladders today. You may hear some preachers say that you have to go to church, you have to give your life over to God, or you have to give so much money into the offering plate in order for God to love you. But that’s not true. If you think about it we too often put people higher up to ladder than we find ourselves. Where do you think Mother Teresa is on the ladder? What about Dali Lama, Desmond Tutu or Pope Francis? We may look at our neighbor who is faithful in going to church and praying and then we look at our […]
[callout]This article was first published in The Gardner News on January 21, 2017[/callout] Yesterday, we watched as Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States of America. We listened and watched as President Barack Obama served his final day in the White House. I started thinking about the great things President Obama did in office and how it has impacted my faith. “This is your victory,” President Obama said in his 2008 victory speech. “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep,” he said. “We may not get there in one year or even two terms. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.” Many of those who voted for President Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, were seeking change. President Obama’s message of hope, his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, his decency, his integrity, his fine character, his grace under pressure and his good temperament are traits that he lived by every day. No president has been perfect. Every president makes mistakes, some more than others. History will ultimately be the judge of Obama’s presidency. But, despite the challenges, he leaves office with many accomplishments. He was a truly and amazing president. One of the lessons I learned the last four years was to never give up. President Obama saved the country from disaster. He saved the auto industry. Unemployment fell almost seven percent, and the stock market has nearly tripled. He extended health insurance to 20 […]
Before becoming a pastor I worked at a Christian camp in New Hampshire. I hosted retreats for different churches throughout New England. Our most attended winter weekends was called Christmas Traditions. Throughout the weekend we would recreate different family holiday traditions. One of my jobs during the weekend was to dress as Santa and bring in a bag of toys for all the kids. One by one the kids would come up to me, I looked in their eyes and I asked each of them by name if they had been good all year. They gave me an enthusiastic yes and then I handed them a toy. I knew that one of the families in attendance told their kids the “truth” about Santa. They explained to their children the tradition behind Santa and Christmas. The kids knew that other children would think Santa is real and it was their job to keep the spirit of Santa alive. When it Erik’s time for a present I watched as he approached me with curiosity that only a four year old at Christmas can have. “Santa?” he said. “Yes, it is me Erik. Have you been a good boy all year?” He responded with a breathless ‘Yes’ as he reached for my beard. I took his hands into mine and I handed him his gift and said “Thank you for helping me by being such a good boy all year. I made this especially for you.” He took the present and had a […]
We teach them to our children as the magic words: “Please” and “Thank you.” We prompt our kids to be polite: “Thank you, Mrs. Greene, for having me over.” Most of us automatically say “thank you” many times a day. You probably say it when you get change at the store. You respond with a “thank you” when someone says, “bless you” after you sneeze. I’ve have even been known to say “thank you” on those very rare occasions, that a police officer has handed me a speeding ticket! The Bible says to give thanks with a grateful heart. Ideally, Giving thanks and having a grateful heart go hand in hand. We feel grateful, and then we find a way to show our gratitude by giving thanks. This past week I have been thankful. I spent the past week with my family in Florida on vacation. It has been awhile since I have spent significant time with my family. We find ourselves separated by distance and busy lives. So it is wonderful to have fun, play, rest and relax with my family. I have also had an opportunity to spend time thinking about what it means to be grateful and how I can give thanks for the people that I love dearly. I think that God has hardwired the universe around the idea of thankful hearts because it put us in the right attitude towards God and each other. But it is not always easy, sometimes it is hard for […]
This past week my family and I stayed at one of our favorite places in the world, Camp Calumet. We spend a week’s vacation at Calumet every year. At the start of the camp session we have a community campfire and we sing songs, watch skits and enjoy the beauty of nature all around us. At the end of the campfire we sing this song: “Down Beside the moonlit waters of Lake Ossipee Lies our beautiful Camp Calumet dear to you and me Swell the chorus speed it onward till the echo rings Let our camp go down in history Calumet we sing.” You may have a place like Calumet, a place you can go to experience the beauty of God’s creation, a place to connect with friends and to remind you of the simple things in life. We arrived at camp after spending two hours fighting traffic, connected to our phones, listening to the news, and tired from the stress of life. But that fades away as we looked upon the beautiful lake, gave our friends a hug and settled into our lodge. We then put away our phones to open a book, we turned off the news and listened to the sounds of our children playing together and we relaxed on the beach as we talked with the people we love most in our lives. I reflected over my time at camp and realized that I have been coming here for thirty years! During that time I […]