Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Character of A Methodist

“Is your heart as... mine [with love]?” Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” (2 Kings 10:15)

In 1742, the founder of Methodism John Wesley published a short pamphlet titled “The Character of a Methodist”.   In it, he emphasized the distinction between essential beliefs of the Christian faith and mere opinions. He believed that Christians could be united by a few essential doctrines and yet have differing opinions about a range of other less important things, such as mode of baptism or style of worship.  He wrote, “The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort.  But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”  

According to Wesley in this pamphlet, a Methodist is one who...

1) “Loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, and with all his strength” and loves their brother and sister as themselves.

2) Not only loves God but keeps his commandments - all of them.

3) Is happy in God . . . his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ“

4) “Prays without ceasing." Not that he is always in a house of prayer . . . but at all times the language of his heart is (one of prayer).

5) Is "pure in heart." He has "put on the bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”

6) Does good to all . . . not only their bodies but also their souls... and to provoke those who have peace with God to abound more in love and good works.

7) Is a Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life.

8) Has the one design of his life not to do his own will but the will of him that sent him. He has a single eye.

9) Continually presents his soul and body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. All the talents he has received he constantly employs according to the Master's will.

10) Does all that he does to the glory of God. His business and refreshments, as well as his prayers, all serve this great end.

11) Does not let the customs of this world hinder from "running the race that is set before him.' He knows that vices does not lose its nature, though it becomes ever so fashionable.

By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labor to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds and lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to distinguished at all.”

            (–From Wesley’s “Character of a Methodist,” modified from an article shared by Jamie
               Jenkins in North Georgia United Methodist Conference’s “Monday Morning in North
               Georgia”, January 12, 2009)

Obviously, then, there’s room for many under the umbrella of Methodist Christianity.  Of course, though, the goal was (and still is) not to make or become “good little United Methodists,” but instead to become the very best Christians that we can be.  For Wesley and many others, living out the above-mentioned “Character of a Methodist” is the very best way to do this!

So, after reading and meditating on them all... what kind of Methodist are you?  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Is A United Methodist?

“Are we together and of one mind in this [ministry of love]?... If so, then give me your hand.” (2 Kings 10:15, MSG)

A pastor-friend of mine once shared the following “tongue-in-cheek” definition of what it means to be a United Methodist:

“United Methodists believer fervently in prayer, but almost faint when asked to pray in public.

United Methodists like to sing, unless the song is new or has more than four verses.

United Methodists love good preaching, so long as it does not scratch where people itch or make the worship service last beyond 12Noon.

United Methodists enjoy watching the generous give and stingy squirm, so long as the generous ones are someone else.

United Methodists believe in the Bible, although they have a hard time getting around to reading and studying it very often.

United Methodists want visitors and guests to feel welcome, as long as they don’t sit in their seat.

United Methodists like sermons to be very intelligent, very comprehensive, very simple, and very short.

United Methodists will come to any meeting at church… as long as a free meal is served.

As Baptist preacher-comedian Grady Nutt once said, ‘Baptists probably sin as much as United Methodists; they just don’t enjoy it as much!’”

[-Shared by Rev. Dr. Ferrell Drummond in the bulletin of Carrollton First UMC (Carrollton, GA), July 16, 1995]

I hope you’ll join me in worship January 15-February 12 as I begin a new sermon series called “Christianity the Wesleyan Way,” exploring what it really means to be a United Methodist Christian in today’s world, and how that identity and practice can make a true different in our lives! Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In The Works #5

“Without a vision the people perish...” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

Over the last few years, I’ve occasionally shared several “In The Works” articles about various facility-related initiatives that are currently (or have been recently) in various stages of development at East Cobb UMC.

First, let’s remember a few Recently Completed Initiatives from the past year or so that I hope you’ve already been enjoying: new Education and Activities building doors; renovated Narthex restrooms; a weekly online e-newsletter; completion of our new entrances from Roswell Rd. by the Georgia D.O.T. ; public Wi-Fi access in our Fellowship Hall; and the completion of our new outdoor digital monument sign that will redefine our identity and presence from Roswell Rd. I remind you that all of these “accomplishments” were part of the original long range strategic development plan for our church.

Now let me share a brief update about just a few more things “in the works” that I hope will be of interest to you:

Redevelopment of our church website and creation of an interactive online community – our new website will be active soon, and in the meantime “The City” is our new interactive community that can allow interaction between members and groups in a way previously not possible. It also houses our redesigned and upgraded site for online giving.

Parking Lot blacktop resurfacing and restriping – this year our Trustees committee will be exploring the feasibility of either resurfacing the entire parking lot or restriping the parking areas (or both) to reflect our new traffic patterns.

* Look for our “Tech Support” ministry to explore the possibility of Enhancing Our Wi-Fi Hot Spots throughout our facility (including potential new public hot spots in the Narthex and Crossroads areas and extending the reach of the Fellowship Hall Hot Spot to the lower floors), and a possible new video announcement system for the Narthex and Crossroads (featuring continuous announcements looping on flat screen monitors).

* Our Strategic Planning Team continues its work on the pieces of our church’s Long-Term Strategic Plan that have yet to be fully defined (remember that some, mentioned above, have already been accomplished). We currently are working with an architect who is developing possible designs for extensive renovations to our Annex, Lighthouse Academy, and office areas of our main building, and our hope is to have these plans ready to be shared with the entire congregation for input sometime this Spring.

To find out more detail about any of these initiatives (or if you have input, ideas, or expertise that you’re willing to share to help accomplish them), please email or call the church office (770-971-3643), and we’ll have someone from the appropriate group respond to your specific question(s).

In the meantime, continue to pray for your church leaders as they seek God’s will and wisdom for all of us, and remember that God’s mission for us of being “A Mosaic of God’s Family: Gathering, Growing, and Going” is one that will require all of us to do our part in order for it to be accomplished. Remember that God loves you and I do, too!