Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Midweek Moment

The past two days I have been at a Florida Conference Residency seminar. This is a required part of my progression through ordination. This particular seminar was focused on theology. We talked about the definition of theology, situations that can help shape our theology, and how we can develop our theology, among other things.

One question, among many, that kept swirling around in my mind is, how often do we as believers examine out theology. Theology means talking about God. I read about God, a lot. I think about God, a lot. However, reading about God and thinking about God are very different from speaking about God.

Have you ever thought about how you would answer someone who asked you about your faith? What would your answer be to the question, "who is God?", or "where is God during all of these earthquakes?" These are very real questions. Questions that are causing very real people to struggle. It is important that we as believers know how to speak articulately about our faith so that when we asked, and eventually you will be asked, you will be able to answer.

I encourage you to think about how well you can articulate you faith. This week I had the opportunity to spend some time around a table, in small groups, talking about my faith. We all talked about what we believe, why we believe, how we understand God to work in certain situations. We even spent some time walking through our Communion liturgy, line by line, asking each other what it means to “lift our hearts up to the Lord.” It was amazing and humbling to be a part of those conversations.

I tell you all of that to tell you this; do not be fearful of your theology. Embrace your theology! Talk about your faith with your friends, with your family. Talk about your faith frequently and with passion. If need help getting started, talk with me. Remember, the only way for us to know how to live, is know what we believe.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bible Challenge 02/26 - 03/03

Greetings All!

This week we will finish up the remainder of the pastoral letters at the end of the New Testament and begin reading through Revelation.

Here is some background about our reading for this week.

II Peter - The authorship of this letter is largely in question and was probably not the Apostle Peter - because it quotes a later letter extensively (Jude). But the main purpose of this letter is to identify Jesus with God and to correct a growing heresy since Jesus had not yet returned.

I John, II John and III John - These letters are attributed to the disciple John who also wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation. The first two letters were probably written in Ephesus between 95-110 AD to counter the heresies that Jesus did not come in the flesh but only as a spirit. The first letter is a general one and lifts up how Christians are to discern true teachers: by their ethics, their proclamation of Jesus and by their love. The second letter is a private one written to "an elect lady" and much speculation exists as to who this person is. The final letter is another private one addressed to Gaius to commend a party of Christians who had gone on a mission to preach the Gospel, to encourage him and to warn him of a group of other believers who are not cooperating.

Jude - This book is often attributed to one of Jesus' brothers. This 25 verse letter was composed as an encyclical letter - not directed at any one church but rather intended to be circulated and read in all churches. Addressed to Christians in general it warns about the doctrine of certain errant teachers. Many examples of evildoers and warnings about their fates are given in some of the most strongly worded language in the New Testament. The letter concludes with a doxology (short hymn of praise), one of the highest in quality in the Bible.

Revelation - Also attributed to John the disciple and probably written during John's exile at Patmos, this book is the piece of apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, a genre that relies heavily on visions and symbolism (like Daniel in the Old Testament).

Here is the schedule:

26, Sunday: I Peter 4 - II Peter 2

27, Monday: II Peter 3 - I John 3

28, Tuesday: I John 4-5; II John; III John

29, Wednesday: Jude - Revelation 3

01, Thursday: Revelation 4-7

02, Friday: Revelation 8-11

03, Saturday: Revelation 12-15

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

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Fives

Wordle: Lent Preaching Series1. Preaching Series - We are beginning a new preaching series this week, The Drama. Our focus each week will be upon some of the people who interacted with Jesus in the final hours before his death – some government and religious officials, some disciples, and some general followers. We began this series at our Ash Wednesday service as we spent some time reflecting upon our role in this drama, for we are not without a part to play. This week the drama will unfold as we look to Pontius Pilate. Bring a friend and come join us, as we all learn together!




2. Bible Study - We are continuing our Bible Study entitled, Delving Deeper: A Journey Through Phillipians. This is a study written by local author and pastor, Charissa Jaeger-Sanders. We are using journaling, sketching, and doodling as a means of connecting with this piece of Scripture as we go verse-by-verse. I encourage you to come and join us in this study that will stretch you, educate you, and enlighten you. All the details and the form to register can be found by clicking here. It is never to late to join and we would love to have you! Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!




3. Day on Campus - Mark your calendars for March 17, when the Florida Children's Home will open their gates for their annual Day on Campus. It's been an annual highlight for the last 27 years. The day begins at 8:30 am with a Welcome Tent with warm coffee and breakfast treats, then tours of the campus throughout the day, a special program at 10:30 am with music and dancing provided by the children, lunch in the Big Tent, and an Alumni gathering place for reminiscing. This is wonderful opportunity for you to see the Children's Home and the wonderful ministry they provide. If you would like to go please contact the Church Office to RSVP by noon on March 9th. I hope you can all go, you will be glad you did.




4. Boy Scout Chicken Dinner - Tomorrow, Saturday, February 25th, from noon until 6 P.M. the members of our Boy Scout Troop are selling chicken dinners in our parking lot. The dinner includes a 1/2 chicken, 2 sides, and a roll for $7. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on that day. The money raised will help send these young men to Boy Scout summer camp. I hope to see you there!




5. Biographies - We are in the midst of completing a book about the family members here at Druid Hills UMC. So often we know of each other, but do not know that much about each other. This book will help all of us get to know each other a bit better. We are asking that each person of the congregation fill out a biography form and return it to the office by March 2nd. This book will not be complete without you!




Have a great weekend and see you Sunday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Midweek Moment

Did you eat a doughnut yesterday? Did you get your fill of pancakes last night? Some of you may have been able to answer those questions. Others of you may be wondering if I am off my rocker. You see, the eating of a doughnut or a celebration with pancakes are both time honored traditions marking the day before Lent. In other words, the day before today.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day in a forty day journey we refer to as Lent.

Our denominational website posted this brief explanation about Lent:

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others. Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”

This is a very important time in the life of a church and in the growth of a believer. I encourage you to take this time seriously. I invite you to ponder what it is that God means to you. Examine where you are in your relationship with God and see what you can do to strengthen it. Look for ways where you can make yourself more attentive to the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit.

Some of this can be accomplished by dedicated prayer time. Maybe this year you can try fasting with prayer. Be creative in your methods, be purposeful in your pursuit, and you will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lent is an important time for all believers. I pray that this Lent speaks to you in new ways, deeper ways, and that you feel the presence of our Triune God like never before.

Have a great week and see you Sunday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Life Lessons from the Prophets – Haggai: Haggai 1:1-15 & II Corinthians 6:16-18

Introduction
Today we are going to conclude our preaching series on the prophets. Those stories contained in the Old Testament about people who walked by faith and not by sight. Two weeks ago, we began with Isaiah as we looked to his example of submitting to God as we focused on remembering that God must do a work in us before he can work through us. Last week, we turned to the example of the prophet Elijah as we talked about how important it is to continue following God, even when those around you don’t and how much of an impact we can have on others for God through our constant relationship with God. Well today we are going to conclude this series as we turn to Haggai to see what we can learn from this bold prophet that spoke out for people to consider how they were conducting themselves.


Image is More Than Skin Deep
I’ve got 2 gifts here this morning. (Hold up the pretty bag and the plain box) If you got a chance to pick, which one would you want to open? How many times have you been envious of someone who seems to have their life all together? We watch television and look at movie stars and their lives seem so glamorous with the money and the toys and the clothes that they have. And sometimes you run into people like this at work, or school, or even church. People who just seem to everything. But on the inside many of these people are a mess. They put on a brave fa├žade for the whole world, but the reality is, on the inside they have hurt and pain and problems and doubts just like everyone else. What is on the outside is not always as important as what is on the inside. You can dress up the outside of a person all you want, but it’s what’s going on inside a person as far as their relationship with God that’s important.

That’s why the prophet Haggai called the people to consider their ways. And if you think about it, that’s what all of the prophets were doing. Speaking God’s truth to the people, calling them to consider what they were doing in light of what God wanted them to do. And these things are recorded for us in Scripture so that we might learn from their example and not make the same mistakes.

Consider Your Ways (Haggai 1:1-15)
To understand the significance of Haggai’s words, you have to understand what had been happening to the Israelites. The twelve tribes of Israel had split into two kingdoms, 10 northern tribes making up Israel and the 2 southern tribes making up Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel had been wiped out by the Assyrians and later the southern kingdom of Judah was defeated by the Babylonians and all but the poorest citizens were taken into captivity. Some of the most famous captives were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. On top of all this, the city of Jerusalem had been completely destroyed, including Solomon’s glorious temple.

After almost 70 years in captivity, the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians. The Persian king Cyrus decided to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. He even returned many of the sacred vessels for the temple and provided all the provisions and protection for the 5 month trip of over 1,000 miles back to Jerusalem. The first group to go back arrived and began immediately on the temple. They finished the foundation but were intimidated by the Samaritans and people from the other surrounding nations. So after 6 years of work, they just stopped. More than ten years went by and the temple still lay in ruins while the people went on with their own lives, building their own homes.

And then God calls up the prophet Haggai to call the people back to their God-given responsibility. Haggai comes on the scene about 161 years after Isaiah and he ministered for only five months, yet his message to the people was very important.

In our Old Testament lesson we find the prophet Haggai questioning the people’s response that the time had not yet come for them to build God’s house. Why do they live in houses while God’s house remains a ruin? If you keep reading, it seems that things had not been going very well for the Israelites, at least not as well as they had hoped for upon their return. They’ve planted much, but harvested little; eat but never have enough; drink but never have their fill; put on clothes, but are not warmed; earn wages, only to see them slip away like they had put their money in a purse with holes in it.

And God’s message through Haggai is this: the reason for the crop shortage and other problems is because the temple of the Lord lies unfinished. Their material blessings will return when they begin working on the temple again. The governor of Judah and the high priest take these words to heart and begin trying to mobilize the people.

God then gives another message to Haggai for the people. The Lord wanted them to know that he was glad to walk with them, for them to know the joy and provision of his presence, “I am with you”, and the people were comforted by this. The people responded as the governor of Judah and the high priest led them in rebuilding. Within three weeks after Haggai’s messages, the Israelites had started rebuilding the temple.

Pleased with their response and progress, Haggai assures the people that in the seasons ahead God will bless them with abundant harvests. Furthermore, there is coming a day when nations will bring their treasures to Israel, and the new temple will be more glorious than Solomon’s, and peace will reign in Jerusalem. Although the book of Haggai does not report the completion of the temple, the book of Ezra tells us it took 3.5 years.

Haggai led the people to consider their ways before the Lord. That was a call for an intense internal searching of where they were as a people and why they were there. Haggai asked the people to make the connection between their condition and their disobedience. For us today, Haggai’s ministry and message can instruct us as we consider our ways and seek to follow God.

The Temple – A Symbol of God's Presence
The temple was the focal point of the Israelites’ relationship to God, but it was still in ruins. Instead of rebuilding the temple, the people put their energies into making their own homes. But the harder the people worked for themselves, the less they had, because they ignored their spiritual lives.

To many outsiders, it may have looked as though everything was fine after the return from captivity. Even though the Israelites hadn’t rebuilt the temple, they had built an altar for sacrifices and had rebuilt their homes and re-established businesses. Life was beginning to go back to normal. On the outside, things didn’t look too bad, but on the inside something was lacking.

So why was God so concerned about them rebuilding the temple? Because, the temple was a outward symbol of God’s presence in their hearts and lives, and the fact that they had let the temple languish in ruins said something about what was going on inside their hearts.

The plan for the temple, like the tabernacle before it, was God’s idea. It was to have a house among His people where He could dwell in their midst. When you go back and look through the Old Testament at the plan for the tabernacle, you find that it was to be the exact center of the Israelite camps with three tribes camping north of it, three east of it, three south of it and three west of it. And when God called the people to break camp and move, the tabernacle was the first thing to be broken down and lead the way, and when they got to where they were supposed to stop, the tabernacle was the first thing that was to be set up.

God wanted a house among His people – somewhere to dwell in their midst. He wanted to be at the center of their lives, and not out on the fringes.

Existing Versus Living
So often we fall into the same trap as the Israelites. We fail to remember that there is a difference between just existing and really living. It is possible for someone to live in the finest house, with the most exquisite food and drink, travel in the most luxurious way possible and still not live the kind of abundant life God that desires for each and every one of us. There are all kinds of ways to exist, rich, poor and everywhere in between. God knows we can exist in our paneled houses or lives, but we can’t really live to our fullest potential apart from him dwelling in our midst.

Our second Scripture lesson today from II Corinthians, reinforces the idea that God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants to live among us and walk among us. He wants to be our God, and have us be His people. He wants a relationship with us, like that of a father to His children. This was the way God meant life to be.
The point of the temple and the tabernacle was to provide a place for God to dwell among His people and to remind them of the place that He wanted to occupy in their lives. But II Corinthians also makes it clear that nowadays the temple of the Lord, the place where God’s presence dwells is in us, We as believers are the temples of the Lord and God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit. We will only experience the abundance of his life as we live by faith, obey Him, trust Him and surrender ourselves daily to His will.

When we put God front and center in our lives, He is faithful to be present with us and provide for our deepest needs. When He ends up anywhere else in the grand scheme of things, we can work as hard as we possibly can on our own, but our efforts will likely end up empty. It’s impossible to live the abundant life God has in store for us, when we ignore our relationship to Him and His presence in our lives.

Conclusion
Haggai called the people to consider their ways and we should too. When you and I look around we can only see the outside. It’s easy to dress ourselves up and look good, to look normal; but God sees what’s on the inside. He sees within our hearts.

Earlier, I showed you two packages and asked you to pick one. If you had picked the pretty wrapped up gift bag, what would you have gotten? A Ziploc baggie full of dirt and rocks. But if you had picked the plain box, you would have gotten this pretty little statue of a child resting in the palm of God’s hand.

We can make our outside as pretty and as put together as we want. But we cannot get distracted with our own plans, with building our own “houses”, to the exclusion of God and His will for our lives.

All God has ever wanted was to reveal Himself and His glory to a responsive creation, who in turn, would love Him with all their heart, mind and soul and strength and reflect Him to others throughout the world. God still longs for us to know Him and honor Him as Lord in our life.

So today, I ask you, what place does God hold in your life? If God has no place, then come here today and fix that. If God's place within you lay in ruins, then come here today and fix that. If God's place within you is being built but you need strength and encouragement to continue, then come here today and ask for it.

God wants to dwell with us. He wants us to walk with him, not ahead of him trying to control our own lives; not behind him rebelling against him and his ways, but with him; cooperating and enjoying the fellowship of the journey. May we all consider our ways and find God’s presence dwelling in our hearts.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bible Challenge 02/19 - 02/25

Greetings All!

This week we will finish up the Pauline letters and also make our way through James and begin I Peter.

Titus - Titus is mentioned in Galatians as one of Paul's traveling companions to Jerusalem. He was then dispatched to Corinth and later went to Crete as the bishop there. This letter mainly deals with the requirements for bishops and elders in the church.

Philemon - Philemon was a wealthy Christian and leader (possibly bishop) of the church in Colosse. This is the shortest of all Paul's letters and deals mainly with the topic of forgiveness.

Hebrews - The author of this letter is not known or identified although many associate it with Paul or suppose it to be written in his style by one of his followers. The book provides a unique look at Jesus as both exalted Son of God and high priest of the people. Most believe the title to be a reference to its original audience: Jewish Christians of the second century who are apparently being tempted to avoid sever persecution by "shrinking back" in their faith. It is a letter written with hope and perseverance in mind.

James - Most believe the author of this letter to be James the brother of Jesus. Many people wrestle with this letter because it appear to contradict Paul's stance on justification by faith alone. James emphasizes works, but not in the sense of justifying oneself before God; rather in the sense that works are evidence of a person's inward faith.

I Peter - Attributed by its title to the Apostle Peter, this letter and its counterpart II Peter are some of the latest writings to be included in the New Testament. The first letter is the only one scholars really attribute to Peter; probably written while Peter was the bishop of the church in Rome. In this letter addressed to believers dispersed through five different provinces in Asia Minor (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia) is a word of encouragement to those undergoing religious persecution.

May you be enriched by this week's readings. Here is the schedule:

19, Sunday: II Timothy 2 - Titus 1

20, Monday: Titus 2-3; Philemon; Hebrews 1

21, Tuesday: Hebrews 2-5

22, Wednesday: Hebrews 6-9

23, Thursday: Hebrews 10-13

24, Friday: James 1-4

25, Saturday: James 5 - I Peter 3

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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fives

1. Preaching Series - Stories. We all have them. We have all heard them. We all learn from them. This Sunday we will conclude our preaching series, Life Lessons from the Prophets, as we have looked to the stories of these prophets who walked by faith and not by sight. This week we will look to Haggai to see what we can learn from this bold prophet that spoke out for people to consider how they were conducting themselves. Bring a friend and come join us, as we all learn together!











2. Bible Study - We are continuing our Bible Study entitled, Delving Deeper: A Journey Through Phillipians. This is a study written by local author and pastor, Charissa Jaeger-Sanders. We are using journaling, sketching, and doodling as a means of connecting with this piece of Scripture as we go verse-by-verse. I encourage you to come and join us in this study that will stretch you, educate you, and enlighten you. All the details and the form to register can be found by clicking here. It is never to late to join and we would love to have you! Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!






3. Ash Wednesday - February 22nd is Ash Wednesday. This year you will have several opportunities to mark this time of remembrance. On that day, from 7 A. M. - 8 A. M. and from 12 P. M. - 1 P. M., the Sanctuary will be open for you to come and silently pray. Pastor Daryl will also be there to offer you an imposition of ashes on your forehead. There will also be a formal service at 6 P. M. in the Sanctuary that evening. Please mark your calendars to take advantage of this opportunity.







4. Boy Scout Chicken Dinner - Next Saturday, February 25th, from noon until 6 P.M. our Boy Scout Troop will be selling chicken dinners in our parking lot. The dinner includes a 1/2 chicken, 2 sides, and a roll for $7. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on that day.  The money raised will help send these young men to Boy Scout summer camp. I hope to see you there!







5. Biographies - We are in the midst of completing a book about the family members here at Druid Hills UMC. So often we know of each other, but do not know that much about each other. This book will help all of us get to know each other a bit better. We are asking that each person of the congregation fill out a biography form and return it to the office by February 26th. This book will not be complete without you!




Have a great weekend and see you Sunday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midweek Moment

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. All week long the boys have been making valentines to take to the kids in their class and boxes to hold all the ones they would get from their classmates. Wesley even had a valentine's day party with his class. And sure enough when they both came home yesterday, they were LOADED up with the sweet stuff. Candy hearts, lollipops, pop rocks, and even those pixie sticks. Remember those, those are just flavored sugar in a paper tube. Last night was a lot of fun in the Allen household.


But I did a bit of research into the origins of Valentine's Day. Do you know how it all got started?

In the third century, the Roman Empire was ruled by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. He was nicknamed Claudius the Cruel because of his harsh leadership and his tendency for getting into wars and abusing his people. In fact, he was getting into so many wars during the third century that he was having a difficult time recruiting enough soldiers.

Claudius believed that recruitment for the army was down because Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families behind, so he canceled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Thousands of couples saw their hopes of matrimony dashed by the single act of a tyrant. And no one seemed interested in standing up to the emperor.

But a simple Christian priest named Valentine did come forward and stood up for love. He began to secretly marry soldiers before they went off to war, despite the emperor’s orders. In 269 AD Emperor Claudius found out about the secret ceremonies. He had Valentine thrown into prison and deemed that he would be put to death.1

And he did. This one man put himself in danger, and was eventually executed, standing up for love. But he was not the first! God was. God stood up for love, coming to earth in human form, as Jesus, to meet us, humanity, where we were. To speak to us in a way that we could understand. To help us realize that we are beloved by an eternal God. For me Zephaniah 3:17 expressed this idea well, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." I have that piece of Scripture hanging by my desk in the office.

I love the fact that God so adores us that just the thought of us causes him to break out into song. You see, God's love is so overwhelming that he had to find a way to reach us, to draw us closer to him, to pave the way so that we could always be with him. That bridge was created, that debt was paid, by his son, our savior, Jesus Christ.

So this year when you think about Valentine's Day, think about your eternal Valentine. Think about the one that breaks into song at the very thought of you. Think about the one that made you, that loves you, and will never leave you. After all, he is thinking about you!

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!




________________________
1. All Pro Dad. The Real Story Behind Valentine's Day. http://www.markmerrill.com/2011/02/14/the-real-story-behind-valentines-day/, 02/15/12.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life Lessons From the Prophets: Elijah - I Kings 18:16-29 and I Kings 18:30-46

Introduction
Today we are going to continue our preaching focusing on the prophets. Those stories contained in the Old Testament about people who walked by faith and not by sight. Last week we began with Isaiah as we looked to his example of submitting to God. Today our focus is on the prophet Elijah and his example to us of how to continue following God, even when those around you don’t.

You're Cheering for Who?!?
I read a story recently about a fellow attending a major league baseball game who caused quite a bit of a stir in the stands. No matter which team made a hit or a run, he cheered. Finally, curiosity got the better of someone sitting behind him. Leaning forward, the second man asked, “Why are you rooting for both teams? Don’t you understand this game?” And the first man told him, “I live too far away to get to a ballgame like this more than once every couple of years, so I pull for both teams. That way, no matter who wins, I go home happy.” You don’t have to be much of a sports fan to know that if you have any sense of loyalty to the home team, you will not root for both sides.

Elijah's Background
Our Scripture lesson today speaks to us of a time in the history of God’s people when there was an attempt to root for both sides at once, when they tried to not only worship God but also several other false gods at the same time. This is about 135 years before Isaiah’s ministry in Israel. During this time, the twelve tribes of Israel have split into two kingdoms. The northern ten tribes seceded and formed the nation of Israel and the two southern tribes form the nation of Judah. The southern kingdom of Judah at this time is enjoying spiritual revival. But the northern kingdom of Israel has fallen away from God. They are led by a man named Ahab, who according to Scripture, did more evil than all the kings before him. You see Ahab let his wife Jezebel talk him into building a temple for the false god Baal, and led the people into worshipping idols. The people of God began to worship not just God, but false gods like Baal and Asherah at the same time.

This is the situation that God calls the prophet Elijah into. He’s called to speak God’s truth to King Ahab and the northern kingdom of Israel. Now Elijah is one of those prophets that we don’t know very much about prior to his ministry. But no matter what his background is, Elijah’s name seems to fit his ministry. His name means, “The Lord is My God.”

The Showdown with Baal
Because of Ahab’s sin, God instructed Elijah to proclaim a drought. He did and the drought came. For three and a half years the people of Israel lingered in a horrible drought. Scripture tells us that the prophet Elijah survived because of the kindness of widows and because at times God sent ravens to bring food to him. Then one day God instructed Elijah to go up and meet Ahab and proclaim God’s judgment. Elijah asked Ahab to assemble all of prophets of the false gods Baal and Asherah, which was about 850 men in total, and meet him on Mount Carmel. And then Elijah assembled the people of Israel and asked how long would they waver between God and Baal. When they did not respond, Elijah laid down a challenge for the false prophets. They would each sacrifice a young bull upon an altar and they would each call on their god. Whichever god answered with fire, would be the one true God.

And so the false prophets of Baal and Asherah sacrificed a bull upon an altar. All morning long they called on the name of Baal and danced around the altar, but there was no response. When noontime came, Elijah began taunting them. “Maybe he’s busy, or thinking or traveling, or sleeping… shout louder!” And so the false prophets shouted louder and they got so desperate that they began cutting themselves with their swords and spears to show Baal how serious they were. But Baal still did not respond.

Then Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord and put the bull on it. He dug a trench around the altar and instructed the people to empty four large jars of water upon the offering and the wood on the altar. They repeated this two more times, until the water had even filled up the trench around the altar. Then Elijah stepped forward and prayed to God. “Let it be known that you are God in Israel and I am your servant, having done everything at your command. Answer me so these people will know you are God and turn their hearts back again.”

And what happened? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sent down fire from heaven which burned up the sacrifice, and not only the sacrifice, but also the wet wood, the altar, the soil, and even the water in the trench around the altar. And when the people saw this, they fell on the ground and cried out, “The Lord is God!” Elijah then predicted to King Ahab that the drought would end and that there would be a great rainstorm, and there was.

Life Lessons
There’s a lot we can learn from Elijah. Elijah was faithful to follow God, even when the nation of Israel didn’t. And in the end, his life had a great impact on the people. They saw God through him and turned their hearts back to the Lord. Yielded lives have great impact because God can minister through us towards others.

A. Following God means doing His Work, not our own (to do my duty to God and my country)
Elijah’s ministry was received, not achieved. He didn’t try to make a ministry happen on his own. He met with God and then responded to his leading. An achieved ministry, one that is initiated by humanity instead of by God, is of no consequence in eternity and is also much more difficult to maintain. When we cease to do his work, the work gets burdensome because we are trying to perform tasks without the grace that only God can give.

To have a received ministry, we must hear from God before we act. The often repeated refrain of Elijah’s life was “the word of the Lord came to Him.” Elijah was not thinking up ideas and asking God to bless them. He was walking in a relationship with God, following Him and simply obeying what the Lord told him to do. What this makes clear is that the Word must come before the work. We need a regular diet of God’s word if we want to see Him minister through us to others.

And scouting gives each of you that word. In your oaths you pledge to do your duty to God and your country. That means that you look for that received ministry. You look for that way to help other people at all times. The lessons you are learning here in scouting are lessons that I can tell you will follow you for a lifetime. These are more than just requirements for badges. They are more than Silver awards, Gold awards and Eagles Scout ranks. They are what make you morally straight and convince you to make the world a better place. Look for ways, expect ways that your scout training can help you realize the received ministries God has in plan for you.

B. Following God means making God the focus (obedient and respect authority)
When we follow what God is asking us to do, one of the things we must realize, is that just because it is God-initiated, doesn’t mean it will be easy. There will be high places where we see God move and work in miraculous ways, that is where it is easy. But there will also be low places and sad times, that is where it will be hard.

When things go well, when life is good, when we can readily see what God is doing, it is easy to follow, it is easy to trust. But what can we do to sustain us through those hard times when things are not going well, when things can and are discouraging? Trust in God and lean on each other. Walk by faith and not by sight. The Scouting oaths call their members to be obedient and respect authority. The lessons your are learning now about depending on each other, trusting each other, and working together are vital. We as believers need to be obedient to God and respect God's authority, at all times, even when we have doubts. One of the ways God acts to encourage us and support us is through us. Believer and scout alike are called to lean on each other, trust each other, see God in one another.

C. Following God requires faith (brave and courageous and strong)
To follow God also requires faith. For Elijah to stand atop Mount Carmel and put his faith and his life on the line required incredible faith in God. After all he was not only asking God to burn the sacrifice, he was asking God to burn a water soaked sacrifice, water soaked wood, and a water soaked altar. Now for those of you that have gone camping, how well does wet wood burn? But here God burned every bit of it up. To be a believer takes bravery and courage. We are called to be counter cultural, to be in this world but not of this world, and to live by values that this world does not always reflect. We are called to love all people, by being friendly courteous and helpful, to put others above our selves, to help other people at all times, and make sure we honor God in all we do.

I think the Girl Scout Law says it best, I will do my best to be a sister to every Girl Scout. When we band together in a common cause, with a focused goal, and move in the same direction, yielding our lives to God, anything and everything is possible.

Conclusion
I know it’s hard to be faithful to follow God when those around us do not. Elijah was able to do it as he led the people of Israel. But he didn’t do it on his own and we don’t have to either. Elijah was a Spirit filled man and the same Holy Spirit who lived in him lives in every believer today.

As we strive to follow God while those around us don’t, we need to remember these three things: 1) Following God means doing his work and not our own; 2) Following God means focusing on him and not ourselves; and 3) Following God requires faith.

When we are faithful and surrendered to him, when we yield our lives to God, God can use us in mighty ways to influence others. The lessons you learn in scouts, the values we find in Scripture, when used together can help all of us find received ministries from God. You all have a purpose, you all have incredible value. Be bold for your beliefs, rely on God and on each other, and may the life and words of the prophet Elijah inspire us all once again.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bible Challenge 02/12 - 02/18

Greetings All!

This week we enter into five other epistles (or letters) of the Apostle Paul to the churches: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians, and his letter to Timothy. For me it's so interesting to read Paul's letters, realizing his heart for the churches that he has planted. Hopefully the historical information below will give you fresh eyes as you read these letters and think about the issues they were addressing.

Ephesians - Here Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus (now Selcuk, Turkey) while he is imprisoned in Rome (about 62AD) to address the unity of the church between its many Jewish and Gentile believers. Ephesus was the second largest city in the Roman empire in Paul's day and home to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world (temple of Artemis). Paul started the church in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 18 and eventually he would send his young protege Timothy to serve as their pastor. One of my favorite passages is Paul's admonition in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God.

Philippians - Philippians has a different tone than many of Paul's letters - it is written about 62AD to the church in Philippi (now Filippoi, Greece) which was one of the first church's that Paul ever started. From the tone of his letter, Philippi is often called Paul's "sweetheart" church. We also find here one of the most powerful and oft quoted pieces of Scripture: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).

Colossians - Colossians is directed to the church at Colosse (now Honaz, Turkey) and was probably written during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome. Apparently, the church had been incorporating pagan elements into their practice including the worship of elemental spirits and Paul's letter declares Christ's supremacy over the entire created universe and reminds the believers to live godly lives.

I and II Thessalonians - The last two books this week are directed at the church of Thessalonica (which still exists today in Greece) and are written probably only months apart around 52AD. Paul only stayed with this church for a few weeks after beginning it and seems to be writing the first letter to encourage them in their faith and remind them of some important doctrines of the faith. Apparently there was some misunderstanding regarding the return of Christ and the second shorter letter appears to deal solely with correcting that understanding.


I Timothy - Paul found Timothy during one of his visits to Lystra where Timothy is mentioned as a disciple. From the Scriptures it seems his mother and grandmother were Jews who had become believers; the only thing mentioned about his father was that he was Greek. Timothy becomes Paul's traveling companion going to Phyrgia, Galatia, Mysia, Troad, Philippi, Veria and Corinth. Eventually around 65AD, Paul installs Timothy as the bishop of the church at Ephesus, a post he would hold for at least the next fifteen years. Timothy was eventually stoned to death when he took a stand against a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies and songs. This first letter from Paul to Timothy seems to deal mainly with forms of worship, organization of the church, the responsibilities of the bishops and deacons, and keeping faithful amid surrounding errors. There is a second letter and we will get to that next week.

Here is the schedule:

12, Sunday: Ephesians 1-4

13, Monday: Ephesians 5 - Philippians 2

14, Tuesday: Philippians 3 - Colossians 2

15, Wednesday: Colossians 3 - 1 Thessalonians 2

16, Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 3 - 2 Thessalonians 1

17, Friday: 2 Thessalonians 2 - 1 Timothy 2

18, Saturday: 1 Timothy 3-6

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

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Fives

1. Preaching Series - Stories. We all have them. We have all heard them. We all learn from them. This Sunday we will continue our preaching series, Life Lessons from the Prophets, as we look to the stories of these prophets who walked by faith and not by sight. This week we will look to Elijah to see how to continue to follow God, even when those around us do not. Bring a friend and come join us, as we all learn together!












2. Bible Study - We are continuing our Bible Study entitled, Delving Deeper: A Journey Through Phillipians. This is a study written by local author and pastor, Charissa Jaeger-Sanders. We are using journaling, sketching, and doodling as a means of connecting with this piece of Scripture as we go verse-by-verse. I encourage you to come and join us in this study that will stretch you, educate you, and enlighten you. All the details and the form to register can be found by clicking here. It is never to late to join and we would love to have you! Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!






3. DeNease Hicks - Tomorrow, February 11th, at 11 A.M. we will all gather in the Sanctuary to celebrate the life of DeNease Hicks. There will be reception following the service in Fellowship Hall. As you are available, I encourage you to come and support this family as we celebrate and remember this dear woman who influenced so many.







4. Scout Sunday - This Sunday, February 12th, we will celebrate and honor those young people that are involved in the Scouting Troops we sponsor here at Druid Hills UMC. In this service we will get to hear their oaths, be lead by their service, and have the opportunity to express to them, and their leaders, how much we value them and how proud we are of them. Come and join us as we pay tribute to the dedication and loyalty of these fine young people. I hope to see you there!








5. Ash Wednesday - February 22nd is Ash Wednesday. This year you will have several opportunities to mark this time of remembrance. On that day, from 7 A. M. - 8 A. M. and from 12 P. M. - 1 P. M., the Sanctuary will be open for you to come and silently pray. Pastor Daryl will also be there to offer you an imposition of ashes on your forehead. There will also be a formal service at 6 P. M. in the Sanctuary that evening. Please mark your calendars to take advantage of this opportunity.




Have a great weekend and see you Sunday!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Midweek Moment

I love how God works! All of last week, as I was preparing the message on Isaiah, there was one theme that was very strong for me; “Here I Am!” Over and over again, that idea of us presenting ourselves completely and humbly before God was so very strong. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that was what God wanted us as a congregation to hear on Sunday.

Trying to be forward thinking, I kept saying to myself, “Here I Am!” is great. It is important. It is absolutely what we should be striving for. But how? How can we at Druid Hills United Methodist, get from where we are to where God is calling us to be? What tools can we use, what prayers can we say?

As of Monday morning, this path was no clearer to me. However, God was at work. Last November I had signed up for a seminar in Gainesville, entitled Mission Centered Ministry. I did not know much about how this topic was going to be approached, but I did know the presenter and he is a very gifted teacher. And that is why I signed up for it. Little did I realize that this path I was searching for was about to be revealed.

I spent that entire day in Gainesville, listening about how to discern the nature of a congregation (purpose driven vs. preference driven), ideas to get our nature more closely aligned with where God calls us to be, ways to shift our thinking from obstacles to opportunities, how to develop a vision for mission, and methods we can employ to increase our ability for evangelism.

I was sitting there in the auditorium at Trinity UMC writing as fast as I could, in awe over how quickly and how completely my question was being answered. When I planned to speak about these prophets of the Old Testament, none of this was on my radar. But as I was working through Isaiah this “Here I Am!” premise was so overwhelming. And then God did not leave it alone. God finished what was started. Like I said, the planning of this seminar was a year or more in the making, my planning of this sermon series was done six months ago. But, God knew that I would ask this question and God knew this seminar would answer that question. This revelation was in the works before I even knew I had a question! I love it!

Our God is awesome! Our God inspires awe and when we give in, when we humbly say here I am, God will absolutely leave us trembling in awe. My hands were literally shaking as I was trying to take notes. My heart was beating fast and my mind racing. As I sit here and type this I am still trying to process it all. But the one thing I do know, is I am so glad we serve the God we do. God desires to be a part of each of our lives. God desires to work within each of us to transform us and recreate us. God delights to hear us say, Here I am, use me! God wants to be a daily part of your life!

This week I encourage you to look for ways to be used by God. Look for ways to submit to God's will like never before. Look for ways to have God's will become your will. But always and everywhere, in everything you do, expect God. God is there, God is willing, God is waiting. Let him in, let him do a good work within you, and then he can do a good work through you!

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Life Lessons from the Prophets: Isaiah - Isaiah 6:1-8 and 61:1-3

Introduction
Today we are going to begin a new series, focusing on the prophets. These stories contained in the Old Testament about people who walked by faith and not by sight. The faithful followers that trusted God beyond comfort and beyond reason. To go against the grain is tough, but over the next few weeks we will look at three people who did, Isaiah, Elijah, and Haggi. Today we are going to begin with Isaiah as we look to his example of submitting to God; specifically how we submit, what has to happen for us to submit, and what our response should be to this submission.

An Inward Look
John Newton was the captain of a ship carrying captured men and women from Africa to become slaves in America during the mid-eighteenth century. He gave little thought to the enormous suffering experienced by his human cargo as they were torn from home and families and herded below decks of his ship. He gave little thought to the magnitude of the sin against God and humanity in which he was a willing participant. Until one day. As he watched his captive passengers share their meager food supplies and comfort one another, and as he heard them sing songs of their homeland, Newton's very soul was in distress. Overcome by guilt, Newton suddenly saw himself with new eyes. He realized that it was he and not his human cargo that was in bondage. It was he, not those in chains below deck, who could not free himself from the chains of slavery. He knew that he was doomed. Only by God's grace in Jesus Christ could he find forgiveness.

Of course, Newton did not "find" Christ. It was Christ who found him. It was the crucified and risen Christ who broke his chains of bondage to sin. It was the Spirit of Christ who brought Newton to his knees. It was the Spirit of Christ who led him to stop carrying human cargo and to speak out against the sin of human slavery. And it was the spirit of Christ who led Newton to respond by writing the words to a hymn that touches all of us, "Amazing Grace." Newton's words resound in our hearts: "I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see." John Newton, touched by the spirit of God, began to see himself and the world around him with new eyes.

Isaiah's Inward Look
The prophet Isaiah had a similar experience 2,700 years ago during a worship service in the temple in Jerusalem. He was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, about 60 years after the prophet Elisha’s ministry in the northern kingdom of Israel. During Isaiah’s ministry the Assyrian Empire was conquering everything in its path. The southern nation of Judah had watched in horror as the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. And Judah was politically unstable because their king, King Uzziah, had just died.

The nation of Judah had reached a turning point. Would the people submit to God’s purposes for their lives and trust in Him for their future, or would they continue to try to go it alone and make shady deals with foreign enemies to keep themselves out of captivity? In the midst of this turmoil and crisis, the prophet Isaiah went to the temple to worship the Lord. What happened in the temple that day was the most significant event in Isaiah’s life and his ministry. No other people involved, no big showdown on a mountain, not a miraculous healing. Rather Isaiah is most remembered for an encounter that he has with God and what he learns from it.

I Saw the Lord (Isaiah 6)
Our Scripture lesson from Isaiah 6 tells us that in the year that King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah worshipped in the temple and had a vision of the Lord God himself sitting on a throne. So great and mighty was God that just the train, the hem, of his robe completely filled the temple. Angels were all around, ministering to him and they even covered their faces and their feet in his presence. And the angels said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

In seeing this, Isaiah calls out: “Woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet I have seen the King the Lord of hosts!” Surrounded by God’s glory and holiness, Isaiah begins to realize he is unworthy of this great honor of seeing God. And then one of the angels takes a hot coal from an altar and touches it to Isaiah’s lips and cleanses him of his sin. And then the Lord called out, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me!”

This encounter with God in a vision is significant for Isaiah. He had spent the first part of his ministry concentrating heavily on the sins of other people, those who were without a doubt “blatantly” unrighteous. But all these obvious sins and moral failures keep Isaiah from recognizing that the sins in his life are just as horrible before God.

One of the obvious sinners that Isaiah sat in judgment of was his cousin, King Uzziah. For many years Uzziah had been a godly king, but like so many other kings before him, he forgot about God. He became so proud of all the mighty military successes and thought he was self-sufficient. In fact, he got so proud that he went into the temple and tried to burn incense on the altar of the Lord, instead of the priests. He paid dearly for it too.

Isaiah probably responded to Uzziah’s failures as we might, “I would never do that.” It’s easy to think of ourselves as righteous when we compare ourselves to others around us. But Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord changes his perspective. Think about what happened to him, the angel touched the coal and applied it to his lips, he was a prophet and his mouth was the tool of his trade. Even today we still use fire and heat to sterilize and clean things. Isaiah realizes in the very presence and glory of God that he is a sinner and God cleanses Isaiah’s mouth for his ministry.

The Result
So what was the result of this encounter? First, Isaiah’s sin was both taken away and forgiven. And second, Isaiah came to understand himself in a new way, as God saw him. And when God asks the question of who will go for him, Isaiah responds with his whole being - “Here I am, send me!”

Isaiah went on to minister for about another 40 years in Judah. Sometimes the people listened, but many times they did not. But Isaiah could be satisfied knowing that he had submitted to God’s purposes and done what God asked. According to the world’s standards of success, Isaiah’s ministry was a failure. But God measures our effectiveness by how our work aligns with His purposes. By this measure Isaiah was very effective for he fulfilled the purpose of God for his life. And today, thousands of years later, we are still touched by his life and his message.

Work in Us, Before Working Through Us
So how does any of this make a difference for us? Why do we need to look at Isaiah’s life and this particular event? I want to share with you one key lesson from Isaiah’s life: We must let God work in us, before God can work through us. Let me say that again because it bears repeating, We must let God work in us, before God can work through us.

God cannot use what has not been cleansed and purified. It was only after his encounter in the vision that Isaiah becomes truly usable for the Lord’s purposes and is given a new ministry similar to that prophesied about the Messiah who would come later. Our second Scripture lesson is a brief summary of the kind of things God asked Isaiah to do; preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for captives, and comfort those who mourn.

God has a plan for humanity. He created us to reflect his image and reign over his creation, but sin changed all of that. Genesis tells us that man was created in the image of God, but when Adam had children, they were “in his own likeness, according to his image.” They bore the fallen image of their father and so do we. The most amazing thing about our God though is that he’s gracious and merciful enough to meet us where we are. No matter how sinful we are, we don’t have to clean ourselves up in order to approach God or to come to faith or attend church. But once God meets us where we are, he wants to do a work in us. He never leaves us as he found us.

In order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled through men and women, there must be a recreation. That’s the whole point of the Christian life, the whole point of being part of a church. Once a person turns to Christ, the Lord wants to transform that person into the image of His son. He desires to change them so they can become agents of his love to those who don’t know. But before God can use us in the lives of others, he must change us. He must work in our hearts before he can work through us. Often we pray, “Lord use me,” yet we fail to recognize that the more important prayer is “Lord, make me useable.” Before Isaiah could say “Here am I send me” (6:8) he had to confess “Woe is me” (6:5).

Isaiah wasn’t the only one who struggled with this. John Wesley, the man we credit as the founder of the Methodist church had a similar issue. As a priest in the Anglican church, who had grown up as the son of a priest, John Wesley had great head knowledge of God. He was very methodical about his religion (that’s why we’re called Methodists; he had a whole list of things people should be doing). And then one night he went to a place called Aldersgate and heard the word of God preached and later he wrote in his journal that “his heart was strangely warmed.” He experienced God in a different way at Aldersgate and was never the same afterwards. He finally got it; that God needed to be able to work inside John Wesley’s heart before he could do a work through Wesley. And so John Wesley submitted himself to God’s purposes and here we are today.

I’ve seen the same kind of transformation happening in this congregation. I’ve seen people beginning to submit themselves to God’s purposes for their life, coming to understand that they need to continually be working on their own spiritual relationship to God, growing, being nurtured and fed through prayer and Bible study and Sunday school and relationships with other Christians. It is so wonderfully encouraging to watch and a blessing to be part of. But we cannot become complacent. We have to follow the example of these few, and all of us need to constantly submit and resubmit ourselves to God. Never be content that we are right, that we are doing everything correctly. Constantly and consistently, submit yourselves for examination before God. Always and everywhere conduct yourselves with an air of humility and sense of servanthood. We all need to continue in that spirit of asking God to work in us and make us usable so that we might serve Him more fully.

Conclusion
So how do we respond to all that? Maybe you are sitting there realizing for the first time, that you are a sinner in need of God’s grace. The first step towards becoming an acceptable servant of God is to believe on His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin. You can do that today, right now in this place. There are no special words that must be repeated, just simply pray and confess your sin before God, accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and ask God to continue to work in you.

Or maybe you took care of that a long time ago. You became a Christian and have been in church for the last ten or twenty or forty years or more. But ask yourself, is your knowledge of God in your heart as well as your head? Do you allow God to work in your life? Will you submit to his purposes? If you need help reaffirming your submission or rededicating yourself to God's will, you can do that today, right here.

The Christian life is about transformation into the image of Christ. So ask yourself, what does God need to cleanse in you in order to be able to work through you?

God is still calling out: “Whom shall I send?” The question is, how will we respond?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bible Challenge 02/05 - 02/11

Greetings All!

This week we finish up our journey through I Corinthians, and read entirely through II Corinthians as well as Galatians.

In between I and II Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth another time (a painful visit) and wrote at least one other letter that is now lost. It would seem that the situation in Corinth was still complicated and Paul felt attacked. He defends himself with some of his important teachings - forgiving others, God's new agreement that comes from the Spirit of the living God, the importance of being a person of Christ and giving generously to God's people in Jerusalem, and finally ends with his own experience of how God changed his life.

The book of Galatians is thought to be Paul's earliest letter, corresponding with the events of Acts 11:30. Here he addresses a group of churches in a Roman province known as Galatia, what is now part of modern-day Turkey. This letter mainly addresses the question of whether the Mosaic law is binding on Gentiles.

Here is our schedule:

05, Sunday: I Corinthians 8-11

06, Monday: I Corinthians 12-15

07, Tuesday: I Corinthians 16 - II Corinthians 3

08, Wednesday: II Corinthians 4-7

09, Thursday: II Corinthians 8-11

10, Friday: II Corinthians 12 - Galatians 2

11, Saturday: Galatians 3-6

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

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Fives

1. Preaching Series - Stories. We all have them. We have all heard them. We all learn from them. This Sunday we will begin a new preaching series, Life Lessons from the Prophets. Over the next three weeks we are going to look at the stories of some of our greatest prophets in the Old Testament; Isaiah, Elijah, and Haggai. The stories of these prophets are about people who walked by faith and not by sight. These faithful followers trusted God beyond comfort and beyond mere reason. The lessons that we can learn from them were not only timely for the people they encountered, but timeless for us all these years later. Bring a friend and come join us, as we all learn together!







2. Bible Study - We have began a new study entitled, Delving Deeper: A Journey Through Phillipians. This is a study written by local author and pastor, Charissa Jaeger-Sanders. We are using journaling, sketching, and doodling as a means of connecting with this piece of Scripture as we go verse-by-verse. I encourage you to come and join us in this study that will stretch you, educate you, and enlighten you. All the details and the form to register can be found by clicking here. It is never to late to join and we would love to have you! Invite a friend and I hope to see you all there!






3. Gift Cards - For any of the ladies that are planning to go to Red Lobster with the MODELs this month, here is a way for you to help the church while having a great time with your friends. Consider buying a gift card through our program to pay for your meal. If you buy the $25 gift card, 9% will go to the church, and the card does not expire, so you can use the remaining balance anytime. If you would like to do this, please order the card by Monday, 2/6, so it will arrive in time. If you have any questions you can visit our church website and click on the Gift Card tab or contact the church office.





4. February Newsletters - The February Newsletter is available in the narthex, so please be sure to pick your copy up. There is a correction to one article; the Easter Tableau will be April 5th and 6th. You can also go over to our church website, and view it there as well.







5.Children's Home - In the bulletin this week is an insert asking people to consider volunteering during the Children's Home annual Open House. There are many tasks to do, many days to choose from, and many hands that are needed. Please prayerfully consider any way in which you might be able to reach out and offer your assistance. Also, as we get more details we will begin to plan a trip for us to go this Open House as a church, so we can become more familiar with the wonderful ministry that happens in this place. Thanks!




Have a great weekend and see you Sunday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Midweek Moment

I love the ages of Parker and Wesley right now. They are both very inquisitive, they both ask a ton of questions, and I frequently am amazed as I get the chance to see the world through their eyes. Those things that maybe I have taken for granted, or those things that have lost their awe, can be transformed for me, made new again for me, just because of their perspective.

This past weekend, Debbie and I took Parker and Wesley to Clergy Kids Camp. This is a weekend, held at the Warren Willis United Methodist Youth Camp in Leesburg, that is geared and designed for the children of pastors. The bonds that are created, the love that is shown, and the affirmation that is given to these children and youth, is truly something to behold.

Anyway, this past Friday we arrived just after dark and I immediately got into “task list” mode. I told the boys that we needed to check in, then after we found out where our room was, we would come right back to the car and unload. I was getting everyone out of the car, organized, and moving forward. Wesley jumped out of the van, very excited just to be at Clergy Kids Camp, and while I was finding jackets and moving very deliberately, I hear this very animated...WOW!

I instantly knew it was Wesley that let out that exclamation. My first thought was he was remarking about the main lodge, Barnett Lodge, that is under major renovations. But when I looked over, he was not looking at the lodge. He was looking up. He then cried out, “Daddy, Daddy, look at all those stars God made!” I fixed my gaze upward, and he was right. The sky was absolutely packed with millions of brilliant stars. It was gorgeous!

Left to my own inclinations, I would have filed our family into registration, unloaded the car, taken our stuff to our room, and never looked up. But having Wesley around, gave me the chance experience awe that evening. I was reminded of the creation God made. Wesley did not just remark at the stars and how many there were or how pretty they were. No. He instantly put together the fact that God made these. He was almost giving God an 'atta boy”. You could tell in his voice that he was proud of God and the good work God did with those stars. I love the way a four year old mind works!

I encourage you to never let your child-like awe disappear. Never let your ability to be amazed like a child fade away. This life can cloud our perception, taint our outlook, and rob us of its joy. Therefore, take time to be in awe this week. Take time to look at this world as God's creation. Look at the trees, feel the warmth of the sun, and the cool of the breeze, and remember God. Remember his love for you and whatever you do, never lose your awe!

Have a great week and see you Sunday!