Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bible Challege 03/29 - 04/04

Greetings All!

This week we finish up our readings in Exodus and move almost all the way through the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus, sometimes the laws and rituals described can seem dry and confusing as you read through them. It helps to remember that the big picture of Leviticus is working out God's covenant with Israel - the consequences of entering into a special relationship with God - special community relationships and behavior.


Leviticus can really be divided into two parts: 1) the Priestly Code (chapters 1-16 and 27) and 2) the Holiness Code (chapter 17-26). The Priestly Code is mainly instructions to the priests regarding rituals of cleanliness, sin-offerings and the observance of holidays. The Holiness Code applies more to governing the life of the people. Hopefully having a framework to help guide your reading will help Leviticus seem less dry and more relevant.

Here is the schedule:

29 (Su) - Exodus 39-40; Leviticus 1-2

30 (M) - Leviticus 3-6

31 (Tu)- Leviticus 7-10

1 (W)- Leviticus 11-14

2 (Th) - Leviticus 15-18

3 (F) - Leviticus 19-22

4 (Sa) - Leviticus 23-26

May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing, the understanding and most importantly the living out of His holy word. Amen.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fives

1. Sunday Worship - Lent is a season of introspection and self evaluation. It is a time for us to take a hard, honest look at our faith journeys and make the changes necessary to remove any barrier between us and God. As a means of help in those inspections, this Lenten season we will turn our focus to the person of Jesus Christ as we seek to understand the depth of his ministry, the focus of his teachings, and what lessons we can learn as we seek to model those ideals in our lives today. Come and join us as we look to the person and nature of the man we call Messiah as we take our journey of introspection and self awareness. For the sermon schedule, please click here. Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!





2. Spaghetti Dinner - We are once again hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the church, TONIGHT! It will consist of spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. This fundraiser will help us continue to care for our campus and fund the ministries of this congregation. Dinner will be served from 4:30 to 7 pm. The cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children. To-go orders are also available. You can purchase tickets in advance, online by clicking here, or at the door. This is sure to be a great time of fun, fellowship, and food. I hope you all can make it!





3. Easter Tableau - Our Annual Easter Tableau, our gift to this community, is right around the corner. On Thursday, April 2nd and Friday, April 3rd, we will give the people of Ocala the opportunity to witness and relive for themselves the last week of Christ's life here on Earth. In order to make this a reality, we need your help. There are sign-up sheets on the Connection Station for you to volunteer in a myriad of ways. You can volunteer for things such as portraying a character in one of the scenes, to scene set-up, costumes, make-up, sound, or lighting. We still have many places for willing hands and we need yours! Please also be in prayer for a successful 2015 Easter Tableau. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Hughes or Terri Silvola-Finch. Thank You!





4. Church Has Left the Building - We are taking another step in our outreach ministry on April 26th as we host a Church Has Left the Building Event. Instead of gathering for a worship service, we will go out and serve instead.

There are several opportunities for you to sign up as a volunteer:
  • Arnette House 
  • InterFaith 
  • Open Arms Villiage 
  • Ocala Health & Rehab 
  • Women's Domestic Violence Shelter 
  • Pack hygiene kits here in Fellowship Hall 
There are signup sheets at the Connection Station for you to pick a location, see a description of what we will do, and the name of contact person from our congregation to answer any questions you might have. I want to encourage you to be in prayer about where you might volunteer so this community can feel the love of Christ, through us, as we go and serve our neighbors.




5. Easter Sunday - Our day of rejoicing is quickly approaching and to help in our celebrations we are asking for each of you to bring a few items with you to worship that day.
  • Easter Flower Cross – We are doing the flower cross once again so we need people to bring flowers to help decorate it. 
  • Easter Sunday Bells – We are asking everyone to bring a bell on Easter Sunday morning. They can be any size, shape, or style. We are going ring these bells in celebration as we make a joyful noise together and truly celebrate Easter and our Risen Savior! 
This will be a glorious day and we are looking forward to seeing you all there!



 

Bonus Five - We want to spruce up our Sanctuary a bit for Easter Sunday so we are having a work day tomorrow beginning at 9 A.M. We want to clean the windows in the front of the Sanctuary and maybe polish a pew or two. If you have the time I want to encourage you to come on out and lend a hand. Hope to see you there!





Have a great weekend and I will see you Sunday!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bible Challenge 03/22 - 03/28

Greetings All!

This week we finish up with our reading in Exodus. Chapters 13-20 deal with the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt through the wilderness to Sinai. The pictures below are from the trip Debbie and I took to Egypt in 2009 - the first two show the pyramids and Sphinx. These date back to approximately 2500-3000 BC which means they existed before Moses (1350BC) and Jesus were born.
 

Along the journey - The first picture below was taken when we stopped at the supposed well of Marah detailed in Exodus 15:22-26, followed by a picture of Elim, detailed in Exodus 15:27. Next is a picture of the hill where Moses raised his hands so the Israelites could defeat the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-16.The two pieces of stone you see on the top left part of the mountain are the remains of a church that was built over the supposed site where Moses stood.


The final chapters of this week's reading in Exodus deal with God's law and instructions on the tabernacle and priests. Finally I've included a couple of pictures taken from the top of Mount Sinai at sunrise. I hope they help you envision what's being talked about in the pages of the Word.


22 (Su) - Exodus 11-14

23 (M) - Exodus 15-18

24 (Tu)- Exodus 19-22

25 (W)- Exodus 23-26

26 (Th) - Exodus 27-30

27 (F) - Exodus 31-34

28 (Sa) - Exodus 35-38

May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing, the understanding and most importantly the living out of His holy word. Amen. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Fives

1. Sunday Worship - Lent is a season of introspection and self evaluation. It is a time for us to take a hard, honest look at our faith journeys and make the changes necessary to remove any barrier between us and God. As a means of help in those inspections, this Lenten season we will turn our focus to the person of Jesus Christ as we seek to understand the depth of his ministry, the focus of his teachings, and what lessons we can learn as we seek to model those ideals in our lives today. Come and join us as we look to the person and nature of the man we call Messiah as we take our journey of introspection and self awareness. For the sermon schedule, please click here. Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!





2. Spaghetti Dinner - We are once again hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the church, one week from today. It will consist of spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. This fundraiser will help us continue to care for our campus and fund the ministries of this congregation. The date will be Friday, February 28th from 4:30 to 7 pm. The cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children. To-go orders are also available. You can purchase tickets in advance, online by clicking here, or at the door. This is sure to be a great time of fun, fellowship, and food. I hope you all can make it!





3. Easter Tableau - Our Annual Easter Tableau, our gift to this community, is right around the corner. On Thursday, April 2nd and Friday, April 3rd, we will give the people of Ocala the opportunity to witness and relive for themselves the last week of Christ's life here on Earth. In order to make this a reality, we need your help. There are sign-up sheets on the Connection Station for you to volunteer in a myriad of ways. You can volunteer for things such as portraying a character in one of the scenes, to scene set-up, costumes, make-up, sound, or lighting. We still have many places for willing hands and we need yours! Please also be in prayer for a successful 2015 Easter Tableau. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Hughes or Terri Silvola-Finch. Thank You!





4. Church Has Left the Building - We are taking another step in our outreach ministry on April 26th as we host a Church Has Left the Building Event.  Instead of gathering for a worship service, we will go out and serve instead. There are several opportunities for you to sign up as a volunteer:
  •  Arnette House
  • InterFaith
  • Open Arms Villiage
  • Ocala Health & Rehab
  • Women's Domestic Violence Shelter
  • Pack hygiene kits here in Fellowship Hall
There are signup sheets at the Connection Station for you to pick a location, see a description of what we will do, and the name of contact person from our congregation to answer any questions you might have. I want to encourage you to be in prayer about where you might volunteer so this community can feel the love of Christ, through us, as we go and serve our neighbors.






5. Easter Sunday - Our day of rejoicing is quickly approaching and to help in our celebrations we are asking for each of you to bring a few items with you to worship that day.

Easter Flower Cross – We are doing the flower cross once again so we need people to bring flowers to help decorate it.  

Easter Sunday Bells – We are asking everyone to bring a bell on Easter Sunday morning. They can be any size, shape, or style. We are going ring these bells in celebration as we make a joyful noise together and truly celebrate Easter and our Risen Savior!

This will be a glorious day and we are looking forward to seeing you all there!


Have a great weekend and I will see you Sunday!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Midweek Moment

Early Monday morning I received the following email from our Bishop, Ken Carter. He is calling for all United Methodists to join him in prayer. During this season of Lent I have been encouraging you to use the discipline of prayer to draw yourself closer to God. I invite you to use the letter and prayer below during your prayer time as we answer this call of the Bishop and say, “Yes! We are here!”



Bishop Carter's call to prayer

The United Methodist Church 
Florida + Episcopal Area

Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. 
Florida Area Resident Bishop

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The season of Lent is historically a time in which we remember that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem and the cross (Luke 9. 51). In the past weeks we have become more aware of the sufferings and martyrdom of many of our brothers and sisters in Christ across the global church.

The persecution of Christians is a reality that has been largely ignored in our culture. This is due to our very appropriate desire for religious tolerance, on the one hand, and out muted support for religious freedom, on the other.

Much of the persecution of Christians is occurring in the Middle East and Africa, and includes the genocide in Mosul, the kidnapping of young girls in Nigeria and the beheading of Coptic Christians this year. But it is a mistake to think it is limited to specific regions or groups because sisters and brothers around world are experiencing a similar fate.

There has been a deafening silence in the face of this crisis. We can no longer remain silent; as the scriptures remind us, “the very stones cry out” (Luke 19. 40). It is time to speak clearly and to unite in prayer on behalf of those suffering and dying simply because they are followers of Jesus.

I am joining with other United Methodist Bishops in inviting United Methodists to pray on behalf of Christians facing persecution. Nothing could be more fitting as we move closer and closer to the final steps on Jesus’ journey to the cross where he died so that we might live. In our baptismal promises we say these words:

“Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evils powers of this world and repent of your sin?”

Christians have certainly persecuted each other, and persons of other faiths and no faith. We come to this act of prayer with humility. And as Jesus teaches us in the Beatitudes, we pray for those who persecute us. Yet we must certainly speak out whenever someone is persecuted, tortured or killed – whether or not they are persons of other faiths or no faith. But we feel a special sense of urgency to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the face of increasing persecution, suffering and death. Pope Francis recently called this “the ecumenism of blood”, as the faithful witness of the persecuted church unites us in the One Body of Christ.

I invite all United Methodist Churches in the Florida Conference to join me in praying during the week of March 22-28 for our sisters and brothers in Christ facing persecution.

The Peace of the Lord,
Ken Carter
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church



For Public Worship and Private Intercession

God of us all,

You love us so passionately that you sent Your Son to help us experience the fullness of divine love. And while we love you, we are not often asked to risk our lives because of our faith.

This is not true for many of our sisters and brothers in Christ. Our hearts break as we see more of them suffering and dying simply because they are living as disciples of Jesus.

We pray for their safety and sanctuary. We pray that you will give them grace in suffering. We are humbled by the witness of these martyred for their faith. We pray for their persecutors, and that acts of violence and persecution will cease.

Help us to grow in our commitment to live as Jesus' disciples. Remind us that we are the One Body of Christ: when one member suffers, all suffer. Stir us to pray unceasingly. And empower us to speak boldly.

We pray all of this in the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bible Challenge 03/15 - 03/21

Greetings All!

This week we finish up with our reading in Genesis and continue on in the book of Exodus.

It's time to move out of Egypt. God has heard the cries of his people and makes a way for them to be brought out of their exile. The first thirteen chapters of the Exodus deal with the problems of the Israelites in Egypt, the calling of Moses, and the plagues against Egypt. The calling of Moses detailed in chapters 3-4 is a fascinating event. How many times do we wish that God would just send us a sign already so we would know what to do? Here Moses receives a sign - a bush that burns and is not consumed along with a voice speaking to him. And yet even confronted with that kind of sign, Moses is still reluctant to go and offers up several excuses...he's not the right person to go to Pharoah, he wouldn't know how to answer the people's questions about God or what to do if the people didn't believe him. Even after God shows him two additional signs of who God is and how he will be with Moses (staff to snake, leprous hand cured), Moses' final excuse is that he isn't very eloquent.

What excuses do we fall back upon when God calls us? Because while we might not be equipped in exactly that moment for the work God wants us to do, he never fails to equip those who he calls AND is always faithful to go with them.

Here is the schedule:

15 (Su) - Genesis 33-36

16 (M) - Genesis 37-40

17 (Tu) - Genesis 41-44

18 (W) - Genesis 45-48

19 (Th) - Genesis 49-50; Exodus 1-2

20 (F) - Exodus 3-6

21 (Sa) - Exodus 7-10

May God add his richest blessings to the reading, the hearing and most importantly the living out of His Holy Word. Amen.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Fives

1. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will be blessed as we welcome the choir from Belleview UMC to come and join us as our combined choirs present the Easter Cantata - Guilty of Loving Me. It will be a wonderful time of musical worship as we continue our journey through Lent in anticipation of the wonderful celebration of Easter. I hope you make plans to come, bring a friend, and join us for this combined worship experience as we celebrate the love that is our God. I hope you to see you all there!





2. Lenten Study - Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. The rebel Jesus came with a renegade gospel to start a revolution. You and I are invited to be a part. In Renegade Gospel, pastor and author Mike Slaughter presents Jesus and his challenging message to inspire us during Lent, Easter, and through the year. Come and join us as we seek to understand who Jesus is and what his ministry means for us today as Disciples of Jesus Christ.

We will meet Thursdays at 10am and again during FAD Night, you can pick either session that best fits your schedule. This class will run for the next three weeks, ending on March 26th. There is a book available for $11, if you wish to purchase it. I hope to see you all there!





3. Easter Tableau - Our Annual Easter Tableau, our gift to this community, is right around the corner. On Thursday, April 2nd and Friday, April 3rd, we will give the people of Ocala the opportunity to witness and relive for themselves the last week of Christ's life here on Earth. In order to make this a reality, we need your help. There are sign-up sheets on the Connection Station for you to volunteer in a myriad of ways. You can volunteer for things such as portraying a character in one of the scenes, to scene set-up, costumes, make-up, sound, or lighting. We still have many places for willing hands and we need yours! Please also be in prayer for a successful 2015 Easter Tableau. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Hughes or Terri Silvola-Finch. Thank You!





4. Talent Show - S.O.S. (Sisters of Soul) is hosting a birthday celebration and talent show on Saturday, March 14th at 7:00pm. That's right! We're going to celebrate YOUR birthday and entertain (well.....hopefully entertain!) you all in the same evening! Sign up sheets are available at the Connection Station where you will sign for your birthday month. One person from each month needs to volunteer to bring a birthday cake to share that evening while we enjoy the talent and someone else may want to decorate their table! AND whether you read some poetry, sing, tell us a joke or do a little jig, please sign up on the sheet labeled TALENT so we can get with you to organize the evening. Questions????? Ask any member of S.O.S.





5. Spaghetti Dinner - We are once again hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the church this month. It will consist of spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. This fundraiser will help us continue to care for our campus and fund the ministries of this congregation. The date will be Friday, February 28th from 4:30 to 7 pm. The cost is $7 for adults, $4 for children. To-go orders are also available. You can purchase tickets in advance or at the door. This is sure to be a great time of fun, fellowship, and food. I hope you all can make it!




Have a great weekend and I will see you Sunday!