“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Friday, January 30, 2009
“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike
Yesterday's (Jan. 29) Weekly Pastor's Bible Study Summary:
James is a "know it all." Just listen to the first verse of chapter 4: "Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are are at war within you?"
Thursday, January 29, 2009
When the Word of the Lord Comes Jonah 3:1-5, 10
... and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. Jonah 3:5
In the name of God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
God goes to Jonah, tells him to preach repentance to the people of Ninevah and Jonah does not want to do it. Jonah runs away from God because he knows that if the people listen to him preach and then repent that God will forgive them. Jonah does not want these wicked people to be forgiven so he avoids offering them the opportunity. While using this story of Jonah to realize that there is a little bit of Jonah in each of us – we really don’t like it when people who have done terrible things are forgiven – the story is also about God’s reconciliation with the people. God wants to forgive us. This is one of the greatest stories of grace in scripture.
Lord, for those times when I refuse to recognize that I am excusing myself from obedience to you, when I rationalize my selfish actions, when I think it is kinder to let persons alone than it is to help them see your way, I am sorry.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I wanted to thank you for your prayers, my results were okay and I'am now sure of graduation in June. May you please tell my churches that I love so much, their prayers were heard by God and I'am now about to finish my studies here at Africa University, so that I can go and serve God. It was a difficult time being a student here, learning in a new country, with a new language, but God is good, yes, he is good all the time.
I thank you for your support, may God bless you and assist you in your ministry.
Love in Jesus-Christ
Monday, January 26, 2009
Wilmington has a population of approximately 12,000 people. Over 7,000 employees are losing their jobs. The hit to Wilmington and the surrouning area is huge. 20% of the region's businesses are dependent on the presence of DHL.
Clinton County is facing a 2 million dollar gap in a 14.5 million dollar budget due to the loss of this company.
How can the church be there for people who have lost their jobs, their dreams, and the many friendships they had through their place of employment? Any suggestions/ideas?
If you haven't already seen it, watch the 60 Minutes segement below.
Watch CBS Videos Online
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Sermon - "Love for a Lifetime - Intimacy"
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Sermon - "Love for a Lifetime - The Sweetest Place on Earth"
This past Thursday, my weekly bible study focused on the 2nd chapter of the Epistle of James. Here are some of the highlights:
- James instructs the Christian community to be inclusive and welcoming to all people, especially people of all socio/economic levels (vv. 1-7) I shared with the group that one of the most inclusive/eclectic churches in the country is Glide Memorial United Methodist in California. It has one of the most diverse population mixes of any church. I would call it a "James" type of church!
- In verse 8, James refers to "the royal law" which is Leviticus 19:18 and which Jesus emphasizes in his ministry. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show no partiality.
- This is the chapter that has the whole "faith vs. works" discussion (vv. 14 to 26.) This is probably what is most known about this epistle. Some have argued that this shows that James (who emphasizes works) has a very different theological perspective than the Apostle Paul (who emphasizes faith.) In reality, when the Apostle Paul uses the word, "faith," he means a lively faith in which faith and works are combined. When James uses the word, "faith," it is like us asking someone today, "to what faith do you belong or what is your religious denomination?" So James is saying that to be a Christian isn't just about ascribing to the particular faith of Christianity (faith,) it's about having a lively faith, where faith is active and includes good works. Long story short, James and Paul would agree that true faith always includes good works.
Friday, January 16, 2009
- Reviewing planning needs for ministry in 2009 including our hosting of the April 23-25 Wesleyan Institute which will be held at Faith Community.
- Looking carefully at our Lenten focus (February 25 through April 11) "The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations," a United Methodist resource designed to help churches faithfully live out our core values of Radical Hospitality, Passioniate Worship, Faith Forming Relationships, Risk Taking Mission, & Extravagant Generosity.
- Heard a presentation on key elements of effective church leadership, borrowing a page from FDR and his focus back in 1933 on making the first 100 days of his presidency focused and strategic to help the country.
- Personally, I have been able to read several chapters from the book, "Disappointment with God" by Phillip Yancey which I will be using as a resource for one of the sermons in the "Though I Walk Through the Valley" sermon series in April/May.
This is our 2nd annual clergy retreat at this location and we have really enjoyed it. Retreats have a way of building community, trust, collegiality, and a renewed faith. Which reminds me...We learned so much about each other by playing the simple game, "Apples to Apples" last night! Yes, memories are being made. Thanks be to God!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
- Scholars aren't sure if the letter was written by James, the brother of Jesus or by another author who used the named James (a common practice in the ancient world.) The reason for thinking it wasn't written by James, the brother of Jesus - the Greek used is very sophisticated. The reason for thinking it was written by James, the brother of Jesus is because of tradition and because of James' focus on caring for the poor and lowly, a theme that Mary, the mother of James and Jesus emphasized in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55.)
- The letter begins in typical letter writing fashion but the rest of the letter doesn't come across as a letter. Instead, if feels more like wisdom literature compiled together in no particular order.
- We discussed how James says we aren't to be double-minded (James 1:8) and to have faith. This is often hard to do. How can we know with full assurance that we are doing what God wants us to do? Part of the answer, according to James is to know the Word inside and outside and simply do what it says.
- Even though we are to live out our faith through action, James reminds us that God is the one who enables us to do what is right when he writes, "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." - James 1:17 We'll discuss the whole faith vs. works debate next week, but here it would seem that James would agree with Paul that faith is critically important. Everything we do that is good is only because of God's graciousness.
Next week, we'll focus on chapter 2.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Sermon - "High Def Christianity - A 24/7 Revolution"