Sunday, June 24, 2012

Be Thou My Vision

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him…” (Ephesians 1:17)

“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
Great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.

Great God of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.”

[--Ancient Irish lyrics translated by Mary E. Byrne, 1905, cited from The United Methodist Hymnal #451]

May this prayer be yours as you seek to discover and follow the wisdom, will, ways, and timing of God in your life! Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Top Ten Facts on Fathering

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart.” (Colossians 3:21)

If you’re reading this on June 17, 2012, it is Father’s Day in America. Here’s just a few quick facts about fathers:

1. There are 67.8 million fathers in America.

2. There are 74.7 million children under the age of 18

3. 62.2% of children live with their biological mother and father

4. 24.8 million children (33%) live apart from their biological father

5. 20.3 million children (27%) live in a home with no father

6. 2.7 million children live with their father only

7. The presence and involvement of a father is positively associated with child well-being, educational attainment, behavioral development, self-esteem and avoidance of high-risk behaviors.

8. Children growing up without a father present are more likely to suffer physical, emotional or educational neglect, engage in juvenile delinquency including violent crime, abuse drugs and alcohol, be a teenage mom, and live in poverty.

9. Fathers are the primary determinant on a child’s ongoing faith practice.

10. 70% of Americans agree that the physical absence of fathers from the home is the most significant family or social problem facing America.

[--SOURCES: (#1-6) United States Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement; (#7-8) Father Facts, 5th Edition, National Fatherhood Initiative, 2007; (#9) Fathers: Key to their Children’s Faith, S. Michael Craven, June 13, 2006; (#10) National Center for Fathering, National Fathering Survey, 2009]

As you can see, it’s more important now than ever that we seek to be good, Godly fathers to our children and those who are like children to us, and to help foster good fathering practices in others. Since God is our Father, we can always look to Him to help us be what we need to be for others. Remember that He loves you and I do, too!

For more information on Godly fathering, visit the National Center for Fathering website

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Annual Conference is Here!

“Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

This week as you read this article, over 2800 delegates representing the 1000 churches and 360,000+ United Methodists in North Georgia will have gathered at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia for the “North Georgia Annual Conference” with the theme “Seeing the World through the Waters of Baptism.” Jim Perry, Cindy Campbell, Peter Kaimathiri and I are attending as our clergy representatives from East Cobb U.M.C., and Lee Bierce, Lisa Haman, and Dean Kelley are serving as our laity delegates.  In addition, Frieda Brown, Betty Hrisak, and Jackie Short will be serving as delegates on behalf of our Atlanta-Marietta District, and Rev. Gary Whatley will be attending as a clergy delegate as he receives his new church appointment at the close of Conference.

Each year's Annual Conference makes important decisions that affect every United Methodist church in our geographic area: approval and ordination of new clergy and retirement of older ones; appointments of pastors to local churches are finalized (we celebrate that our Bishop - Michael Watson - has reassigned myself, Jim Perry, Cindy Campbell, and Peter Kaimathiri to East Cobb UMC as your pastors for this next year); adoption of the conference budget; support for and reports from conference missions and ministries; exciting worship and bible study opportunities to enrich our spiritual lives; present our “Bishop’s Offering” (to support the work of “World Methodist Evangelism” to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the world); and more!

Upon our return, we’ll be available to report on important decisions that were made, and how these might affect us as a congregation. In the meantime, you can find more information about Annual Conference (as well as “real time” updates) on our North Georgia Conference website (click on the 2012 Annual Conference box at bottom left). Also, thanks for your prayers, both for ourselves as your representatives, and for the Conference itself. Always remember, God loves you and I do too!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Glory Is In the Struggle

“Do not grow weary in doing what it right, for we will reap at the harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

When we think about trials, troubles, challenges, and struggles today, we usually think of them only in negative terms -- as things to be avoided or “fixed” as soon as possible.  However, I once ran across the following devotional that spoke of our need to learn the value of such struggles of and in life…

A friend was complaining that even though she and her husband constantly work at their relationship and seek help from a counselor, they are still plagued with problems.  ‘It feels like we’ll be working at this forever,’ she sighed.  I suggested that maybe we glorify God as much in the struggle as in the solution.  ‘Your children are learning that you don’t give up on a relationship,’ I said.  ‘You keep working at it.’

A similar thought occurred to me when I was hit by yet another battle with depression.  Though I take medication and receive counseling, my old enemy still occasionally returns.  I realized that continuing to fight is evidence of faith and trust.  The glory is in the struggle.  By trusting God through the struggle instead of despairing that I am not yet ‘cured,’ I can view each episode as an opportunity to glorify God.

We love neat resolutions and happy endings.  But it is often in clinging to God when we don’t see answers that we witness most convincingly.  A watching world will be inspired by a faith that won’t quit!”
            [BMarianne Jones in Upper Room, devotional guide, October 25, 2000]

Whatever relationship or situation you apply the above to, it=s great biblical and practical advice!  I hope to see you at church this Sunday as we provide you with tools to successfully struggle through life!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!