Sunday, November 27, 2011


“Behold, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple...” (Malachi 3:1)

For many Christians today, the idea of seasons of the Christian year is a new thing. But the church has used them for nearly 2000 years to remind us of spiritual realities that often get lost in our secular and pagan world. For example, many of you may already know that in the Christian calendar, the four weeks prior to Christmas Day are considered a season separate from Christmas.

Known as “Advent” (from the Latin adventus, which means “coming”) these four weeks celebrate and remind us of aspects of faith which are related to but definitely distinct from Christmas. Advent is one way we can remember the true “reason for the season” by being pointed to and prepared for the various “comings” of Jesus in and through time:

(1) In The Past a babe in Bethlehem. We listen to Old Testament prophets who promised a coming Messiah

(2) In the Present the one who comes and meets us in our hearts and lives today

(3) In the Future the one who will come again to make all things new and to establish His kingdom upon the earth once and for all.

During this season, we use the colors blue (representing hope) and purple (representing royalty) to remind us of the hope that Christ brings as our reigning King, and light an Advent wreath to remind us that we wait for the coming of Jesus, the “Light of the world.”

This year at East Cobb UMC, our celebration of Advent can help us understand the true meaning of Christmas, and prepare our hearts for the Christ-child. It will be a great time to invite friends and neighbors to church, as well as a good time to get back to church yourself! So don’t miss out on how God wants to bless you as we begin celebrating Advent on November 27th! I’ll see you then! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm Thankful For...

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This past year I have had much to give God thanks for. Here are just a few. I am thankful...

...for a wife and family who model the love of God by loving me just as I am.

...for parents who raised me in church to love, understand, and eventually follow the ways of God.

...for a church family who loves, supports, and prays for both my family and I daily.

...for fellow staff members who share with me in the cause and work of Christ through our church.

...for church members who pray for Jim, Cindy, Peter and I each week for our worship services.

...for Sunday School and Bible study teachers/leaders who live out their faith in the selfless way they lead and teach.

...for committee and ministry team leaders and members who give “above and beyond” to the work of our church through their committee/group.

...for the “behind-the-scenes” members of our sound and multi-media ministries in the essential work that they do.

...for the members of our praise team, adult, children’s and youth choirs for the blessing and inspiration they share through their music.

...for great volunteers who lovingly help cook, serve, and clean up for both our Wednesday Night Suppers and our Sunday Morning Café.

...for church members who are willing to make God a priority through their financial giving to His church.

...for fellow Christians who’re willing to step outside themselves by participating in a missions or evangelism experience locally or overseas.

Of course, there’s many, many more, but have you “counted your blessings” lately? When you do, I’m sure you’ll find that, like me, you have many things for which to “give thanks.” Let us all strive to live out our thankfulness this Thanksgiving holiday! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Much Does It Cost?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

The story is told of a man (the merchant in the story above) asking Jesus (the seller implied in the story) how he could obtain the pearl of great value. "How much does it cost?" he asked. Jesus supposedly answered, "It's too dear, too costly." The conversation continued... "But how much?" "Well, it's very expensive." "Do you think I could buy it?" "Oh, of course. Anybody can." "How much is it?" "It costs everything you have no more, no less so anybody can buy it."

"I'll buy it." "Well, what do you have?" "I have $10,000 in the bank." "Good. What else?" "That's all I have." "Have you nothing more?" "Well, I have $15 here in my pocket." "That's fine. What else do you have?" "That's all." "Where do you live?" "In my house." "Then give the house too." "You mean I must live in the garage?" "You have a garage, as well? Give that too. What else?" "Do you mean that I must live in my two cars, then?" "Both become mine. What else?" "I have nothing else." "Are you alone in the world?" "No, I have a wife, two children, and.... " "Your wife and your children too. What else?" "Lord, I have nothing else, I am left alone now."

"Oh, you must give yourself, too. Everything. When you receive this pearl, everything becomes mine. You can use all these things here but don't forget they are mine, as you are. When I need any of the things you are using you must give them to me because now I am the owner."
[ From The Call To Discipleship, by Juan Carlos Ortiz, pp. 42 43]

The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is a paradox: at one and the same time, it costs us nothing... and yet it costs us everything. As we share in our annual stewardship commitment, what are you prepared to sacrifice in order to receive God's kingdom? Will you be willing to grow to receive it? Remember, God love you and I do, too!