Sunday, February 21, 2010

Remember Your Profession - Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 and Romans 10:8b-13

Today we begin the season of Lent. Actually the first day of Lent was Wednesday and we here at Druid Hills observed that with our Ash Wednesday service as we came together and talked about how God allows for us to make U-Turns and then participated in the imposition of ashes as we placed ashes in the sign of a cross on our foreheads and reminded ourselves to repent and believe in the Gospel. Today we are going to spend some time trying to see how our belief in the risen Savior is more than just a profession of words.

When I was in seminary I heard a quote from a professor, Dr. Rick Gray, and he was being asked, what is the one thing that would break your heart more than anything else? He paused for a moment and replied,”The one thing that would absolutely shatter my heart is for me to be a stumbling block to someone else coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ” (paraphrase). The one thing that would break the heart of this man more than anything else was to know that he had acted in a way that prevented someone else from coming to understand the love of Christ. Not losing a loved one, not losing his income, but knowing that he had an adverse affect on the salvation of another human being.

Our actions and our words can be of tremendous help or of tremendous destruction. One little word can pave the path for a new believer or turn them away forever. There is a Christian rock group called D.C. Talk and one of their songs is called, “What If I Stumble”. There is a man that speaks before the song starts and he says, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

Words are a wonderful gift from God. They are free, they do not cost us anything to use. They are words out there for all types of people, big words and small words, complicated words and simple words. There are words of different lengths and even words that are fun to say, like lollipop. But words also carry great power. Great responsibility.

Words Can Save Our Lives
I am sure that most of here have heard the term professing Christian. What exactly does that mean? That is an important question especially here during Lent as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the risen Savior. Our second scripture lesson was written for just that very reason.

The book of Romans is a big letter about the hope of salvation written by the apostle Paul. It is a book of great hope for us all and in the portion we read this morning, Paul is speaking to those people in Rome that are already Christians. He is not trying to win people to Christ, he is not trying to make some elegant case for a belief in Christianity. He is simply reminding them of some of the basics of their faith. You see faith in Christ is not complicated. It is not some ridiculously long set of rules and regulations that we have to follow. It begins, as Paul tells us, when we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. It begins when we believe in our heart that God raised Christ from the dead. With those two professions we are done. We are saved.

This is the whole point of Lent, to take time to remember that profession of belief in the risen Savior. During Lent we are to deny ourselves some pleasure. How many of you have been asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?” The purpose of giving something up is that you give up something that occupies a significant portion of your time or thoughts. Something that when not there will allow you more time to be with God. It is to be an opportunity to deny yourself in order to help yourself be closer with God.

Our lesson from Psalm 91 talks about the importance of that closeness. That when we are close and we make God our refuge and our fortress, God will be faithful to rescue us, protect us, deliver us, and be with us no matter the situation. Our words, our professions cannot only take us away from God, but also bring us incredibly closer to God.

Christ did so much for us and all he asks for in return is for our belief in Him. For us to use our words to profess that faith in Him. Earlier this morning we talked about the idea that words can cause us to stumble, to cause others to stumble. Each of you this morning were given a piece of paper as you walked in this morning. What I would like for you to do is to write a stumbling block of yours on that piece of paper. If you have a time keeping your temper with others, if you have a bad habit you would like to kick, whatever it is that you feel is keeping you from a closer relationship with Christ, write it down. Do not sign it. And in just a moment I am going to ask you to come and place it in this bowl as you feel lead…and we are going to burn them. We are going to take that first step together to say to God, “I want to be closer to you, I want you to take this stumbling block away from me, and I call upon your Name to be with me in my trouble, deliver me from my temptation, and walk with me as I grow closer to you. God has told us that if we profess in Christ, trust in him, he will deliver us. Allow Him to do that for you today!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bible Challenge 2/21 - 2/27

Shalom Ya'll! Here is the schedule for our reading plan this week. We are beginning the wonderful book of Hebrews and moving through James, 1 and 2 Peter, and beginning 1 John. I hope you enjoy it!

2/21, Sunday - Hebrews 1-4

2/22, Monday - Hebrews 5-8

2/23, Tuesday - Hebrews 9-12

2/24, Wednesday - Hebrews 13 - James 3

2/25, Thursday - James 4 - 1 Peter 2

2/26, Friday - 1 Peter 3 - 2 Peter 1

2/27, Saturday - 2 Peter 2 - 1 John 2

Be Blessed!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fives

Greeting everyone! Here are a few things that are happening this week that I wanted to bring to your attention.

1. Invitations – We have received three invitations from our Sister UMC churches:
• Ocala West: 2/22 @ 3pm – Multicultural Worship Experience, fellowship and refreshments to follow. If you are interested let us know so we can tell Ocala West.
• First UMC: 2/21 and 22 @ 7pm – Journeys with the Messiah, a collection of compelling and thought provoking photographs that place 1st century Jesus and his parables in modern day settings. The photographer will speak at both sessions.
• Zion UMC: 2/21 @ 3pm – Marion Civic Chorale concert as part of Zion's Black History Celebration. Admission is free.

More information about each of these is available in the church office.

2. Easter Tableau – This outreach event is quickly approaching and planning is getting underway. If you are interested in being a part of the leadership team and helping to head up one of the areas of the Tableau or have questions about what would be required of you on this team, please contact either Eunice Reid or Peggy Sue Munday as soon as possible to let them know.

3. Scout Sunday – will be next Sunday. We are going to have participation by the Brownies, Cubs, Girl, and Boy Scout troops that we sponsor. Please come out and show your support as they all help lead us in our worship experience. We are inviting them and their families to the lunch afterward so we are asking everyone to consider bringing a dish so we can make sure we have enough food. We are expecting as many as 40-50 extra people.

4. UM Children's Home – On Saturday, March 20th there is a UM Children's Home Day on their campus. It would be great to get a contingent of us to go down. If interested or if you have any questions, contact the church office by noon, March 4th.

5. Tomorrow our Boy Scout troop is selling chicken dinners at the church from 11am-5pm. Please come on out, pick up a great meal, and support our troop as they work to raise money to help with their trips and projects.

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We Need Your Help!

What if Druid Hills UMC earned a donation every time you searched the Internet? Or how about if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our church? Well, now it can!

There are two ways you can help!

First, is by using is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. Use it just as you would any search engine, get quality search results from Yahoo, and watch the donations add up!

Second, is by shopping with is a new online shopping mall which donates up to 30 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause! Hundreds of great stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, ebay, Macy's and Barnes & Noble have teamed up with GoodShop and every time you place an order, you'll be supporting your favorite cause.

And if you download the GoodSearch toolbar, our church will earn money every time you shop and search online - even if you forget to go to GoodShop or GoodSearch first! Add the Druid Hills UMC toolbar by clicking here.

Ash Wednesday

Wanted to thank everyone for coming out to our Ash Wednesday service. We had 30 people attend. I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Need a U-Turn? - Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

I do a lot of driving. I do a lot of driving to places that I have never been before. And since my family and I have only been in Ocala for a little over seven months and since most roads in Ocala have four different names, I frequently require the help of maps. And in today's age we have this wonderful little device called a GPS that will pinpoint your location via satellite and tell you the best way to get where you are going...usually.

Sometimes, either because I missed a turn or because common sense tells me I cannot drive through a lake, I do not always follow the advice of my GPS. When that happens I can always count of the sweet voice of my satellite guide, “Please make a legal U-turn”. She will even give me several chances to make that legal U-turn. That is the nice thing about driving, if you make a navigational mistake you can make a U-turn. It is also the nice thing about serving the God we do because, He too allows for us to make U-turns.

A Call to Repent
The setting of our Scripture lesson this evening tells us that the people of Judah have turned away from God through complacency and self indulgence. Their priorities had shifted from worshiping God to worshiping themselves. Sin had become paramount in their lives and we can understand sin as that which separates us from God, ourselves, and those around us, we can see how the people of Judah were not in a very good situation. God was not happy with the people of Judah and was planning an invasion of locusts on the people as punishment.

The action of our story opens with the prophet Joel pleading with the people to change their ways, adjust their priorities, and save themselves. However, it is important for us to understand that Joel is only the messenger and these words, this pleading, is directly from God. Listen to what God says through Joel, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing” (Joel 2:12-13).

Joel focuses on God's attributes of being "slow to anger," "rich in kindness," and "relenting in punishment." But those attributes are not enough. The people must show some outward sign they are changing, they must pray, they must repent. They must go through a process of returning to God, shifting their priorities back to God, of making that U-Turn away from their mistakes and strive to earnestly get back on the right track.

Today we are beginning the season of Lent, a special period in the Christian year where we examine where we are spiritually. Are we as close to God as we should be, want to be, need to be? Does our actions and the life we lead truly and properly reflect Christ as our Lord and Savior?

As we go through Lent and remember the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, let us remember why those acts were necessary. Let us remember that these were all incredible acts of love and compassion on the part of our Triune God and that they were done so that we could be forever reconciled to our Creator. God allows for U-turns, is eager for us to make U-turns, and will always take us back with open arms, a loving heart, and a complete acceptance like we have never known. God is waiting...all you have to do is turn around!

Ash Wednesday

Just a reminder to all that we are having an Ash Wednesday service tonight at 6pm in the sanctuary. Everyone is invited to come out and join together as begin the season of Lent. See you there!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are You a Peter? - 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 and Luke 9:28-36

Today is Transfiguration Sunday and this is an important day. It is not just the day that we get to read about the transfiguration or the miracle that happens to Christ, rather than at his hands for others, but it is time for us begin preparing ourselves for Lent. Today is about helping us to re-focus on the teachings and preachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I've Got It!
I have a bad habit. I know, I know...the image of perfection you had of me has just been shattered. But I have a bad habit. I am a fixer. Several years ago Debbie came home from church with a vision. She wanted to figure out a way to start a new ministry at our church that would include the entire family. An evening that would have something for everyone. Then she told me that she had met some resistance from her worship committee. Those words no sooner left her mouth before I started in on what she needed to do to get this ministry off the ground. I began to tell her how to re-present this idea to the committee, what to say, the angle to focus on, and the benefits of starting a program like this.

I then launched in to what this program should look like. I told her who she should contact to run parts of it, I began to outline an itinerary, how many volunteers we would need...I even told her the best day of the week and the time frame to have it in. I was so proud of myself. In 15 minutes I had been the perfect husband and solved all her immediate problems. Everything was grand!

Jesus is Transfigured
you see, I was acting just like Peter from our second Scripture lesson this morning. As our story opens we find Jesus leading James, John, and Peter up a mountain for a time of prayer. Scripture does not list the name of the mountain, but scholars using other historical sources believe it to be Mount Tabor, located in Lower Galilee, about 11 miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Now Scripture tells that while Jesus was praying his face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning (Luke 9:29). We are also told that Moses and Elijah appear in glorious splendor and begin talking with Jesus. Peter, James, and John had become sleepy and when they become fully awake realize what is happening. But as they awake Moses and Elijah are getting ready to take their leave from Jesus and Peter's immediate reaction is to do something. He tells Christ that he will put up three shelters, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. We know this is a reaction and not a well thought our plan because Scripture tells us that Peter did not know what he was saying.

But as he was explaining all this to Christ, they are all engulfed in a cloud and God speaks to them saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." (Luke 9:35). After God speaks, Jesus is then found to be alone.

Are you a Peter?
So my question for you this week is are you a Peter? Now please do not misunderstand me, Peter was a great champion of the early church and there are many wonderful things we can learn from him, but he was human. So I ask again, with great respect, are you a Peter? When you experience something is your first response a reaction based on your gut instinct, on your own intellect, on your own rationale? If so, congratulations you are a member of the human race! However, this passage shows us another way, a better way. As Peter's mind is racing about what he should be doing when he finds himself in the presence of not only Christ, but Moses and Elijah as well, God interrupts him and says wait...slow down...I have a better way. Right here in front of you is my Son, my Son whom I have chosen. Listen to Him.

Folks, that should be our first reaction when we are trying to make sense of something. Our first reaction should be to go to God and listen to God. We have talked several times about how important it is to have quiet, uninterrupted, alone time with God. Not to just pray but to listen. By all means talk to God, pour your heart out, cry, laugh, express yourself. But then listen. Close your mouth, quiet your spirit, and listen. God told Peter, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." Christ is still here today, right now, right here. He has something to say, to you, to me, to all of us. Psalm 46:10 says it the best, “Be still and know that I am God”.

Jesus came to us for a reason. He died for us for a reason. And it was not to leave us alone, but to walk with us, talk with us, guide us, but most importantly love us. We just need to constantly trust Him, obey Him, and turn to him.

After I had told Debbie how to fix all her problems, I looked over to her so I could take in her appreciation and I immediately knew I had missed something. She had this look on her face that told me that something had flown over my head and was on its way to Key West. She smiled at me and she said, “Is it my turn to speak now?” Sheepishly I said, “of course, I'm sorry.”

She told me she had already fixed the problem, In fact her solution was much better than mine. She said all I wanted to do was share with you what I experienced today. Well I am here today to tell you that I am now, by the grace and work of Christ, a redeemed fixer. I have learned, most of the time, to listen before I speak, ask if she needs help or an ear, and to not think of myself as the uber Bob Villa.

Christ came into this world to seek and to save, he has a plan that is far superior to anything we could ever conjure up. And he is very eager to share it with us. In fact He tells us repeatedly in Scripture, that if we put all of our trust and faith in Him, he will provide the way. Will you trust him this Lenten season? Will you renew your efforts to be a loyal and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ? Christ loves you, Christ died specifically for you, and wants nothing more than welcome you into his everlasting love. Please let him!

Bible Challenge 2/14 - 2/20

Greetings All!

I hope you are enjoying your time in the Word. As we get to the end of the New Testament you will see the books going by quicker. This week we complete Philippians, get through Colossians, go through both 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. So here is the schedule for this week:

2/14, Sunday - Philippians 3 - Colossians 2

2/15, Monday - Colossians 3 - 1 Thessalonians 2

2/16, Tuesday - 1 Thessalonians 3 - 2 Thessalonians 1

2/17, Wednesday - 2 Thessalonians 2 - 1 Timothy 2

2/18, Thursday - 1 Timothy 3-6

2/19, Friday - 2 Timothy 1-4

2/20, Saturday - Titus 1 - Philemon 1

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bible Challenge 2/7 - 2/13

Greetings one and all!

I hope you are all having a great week! Here is the schedule for our reading plan as we move through 1 Corinthians all the way into Corinthians. It is my hope you are blessed by these readings.

2/7, Sunday - 1 Corinthians 16 - 2 Corinthians 3

2/8, Monday - 2 Corinthians 4-7

2/9, Tuesday - 2 Corinthians 8-11

2/10, Wednesday - 2 Corinthians 12 - Galatians 2

2/11, Thursday - Galatians 3-6

2/12, Friday - Ephesians 1-4

2/13, Saturday - Ephesians 5 - Philippians 2

Have a great week!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fives

Here are a few things that caught my attention that I wanted to share with you this week.

1. This upcoming week Debbie and I will be on vacation. Carolyn Thomas, a certified candidate for ministry, from St. Paul's UMC will be here to bring us the message. Please come and support her as she worships with us.

2. I am beginning a new Bible Study on February 25th, Christianity and World Religions: Wrestling with Questions People Ask. In this study we will take a look at the five major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and examine what each practice truly believes. The cost for the workbook is $11 and scholarships are available. If you do not want a workbook and just want to come to class that is absolutely fine as well. You will see a sign up sheet in your bulletin this week. I hope to see ALL of you there!!

3. The Easter Tableau outreach event is quickly approaching and planning is getting underway. If you are interested in being a part of the leadership team and helping to head up one of the areas of the Tableau or have questions about what would be required of you on this team, please contact either Eunice or Peggy Sue as soon as possible to let them know.

4. Don't forget to check us out on Facebook and on the blog. There many ways to stay in touch now a day and our church is utilizing them. We have a group page on Facebook and this blog kept by me. Both of these are wonderful ways to stay in touch with one another during the week. Things happen all the time so be sure to check these places out to keep up to date.

5. This month we are having an Ash Wednesday service, on February 17th at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall. I hope you will make plans to attend as we begin the season of Lent together.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Haiti Update

For those of you that are curious we as a church, through individuals and groups, have raised $875 for the people of Haiti! That is a tremendously incredible gesture and we can all be very proud of our church!

There is still a long journey ahead for these people and their country, so please keep them in your prayers.