Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Christianity and Homosexuality?

Chick-Fil-A… Barack Obama… movies and TV shows… gay pride parades…. It seems that everywhere we turn today, we’re faced with the issue of homosexuality. As Christians, how should we deal with this controversial subject, not only biblically and theologically, but also practically? And how would Jesus teach us to treat the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people among us in our culture today?

On September 16th and 23rd, I'll be addressing these questions and more in two sermons collectively titled “Christian Perspectives On Homosexuality,” and will precede these with a sermon on September 9th outlining a way for Christians to deal with controversial issues. Regardless of where you or others find yourselves on this topic, I pray that you will invite a friend and visit us at East Cobb United Methodist Church (Marietta, GA) during these three weeks to learn more about how God would have us approach this heated subject.

In the meantime (and following the sharing of this series), you've invited to read and download materials pertinent to this subject (included PDF transcripts of the sermons after they're preached) in the "Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality RESOURCES" link to the right of this article.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

When In Our Music God Is Glorified

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth into joyous song and sing praises.…Make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.” (Psalm 98:4 & 6)

“When in our music God is glorified,
  And adoration leaves no room for pride,
 It is as though the whole creation cried, ‘Alleluia!’

 How often, making music, we have found
 A new dimension in the world of sound,
 As worship moved us to a more profound ‘Alleluia!’

 So has the church in liturgy and song,
 In faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
 Borne witness to the truth in every tongue, ‘Alleluia!’

 And did not Jesus sing a psalm that night,
 When utmost evil strove against the light?
 Then let us sing, for whom he won the fight: ‘Alleluia!’

 Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
 Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
 And may God give us faith to sing always ‘Alleluia!’”

       [–From The United Methodist Hymnal, #68, words by Fred Pratt Green, 1971]

As we celebrated Worship Arts Sunday today during our morning services, my hope and prayer is that you were not only inspired by all that you experienced, but that it also challenged you to live your life as a song of praise and thanksgiving to and for God.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How Hospitable Are YOU?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) 

New to Marietta, they got up Sunday morning to worship at East Cobb U.M.C.  They had driven by our facility and decided that we would be the first church they “tried out” as school started back.  They were a family with a three-month old infant and a four-year old Kindergartner.  Arriving 20 minutes before the scheduled start time of the service, they found a parking spot and approached the entrance.

One of our church’s Greeters welcomed them warmly, gave directions to the nursery, the worship area, and told them about our Children’s offerings for their Kindergartner.  But, an alert member passing by did even more: they noticed what was going on and asked if they could help.  The member then escorted the new family to the nursery, where their baby was placed in the loving care of our nursery workers.  They showed them where KidZone Worship was held.  Finally, the member escorted the parents to the worship area, where they were again welcomed by several other members during the greeting time.

Friends, I don’t care how hard it is to find a parking place or how much or little they enjoyed the worship, the music, or even the sermon.  They will be back... because somebody was alert, cared, and went the extra mile – even though it might have been inconvenient – to help them feel “at home” at East Cobb U.M.C. 

Do you know the name of those helpful church members?  God does!  Could we write down your name as one?  This Fall you may notice that we have a good number of guests and new worshipers that we’ve been welcoming each and every week to East Cobb UMC.  They’re here on Sunday mornings for worship, Sunday nights for study groups, Wednesday night for supper, and some throughout the week for other church activities.  So, let’s each offer our very best hospitality to welcome them in the name of the Lord!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Lesson Of The Fire Coals


"Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another." (Hebrews 10:25)

There once was a member of a certain Christian congregation who, though once very active in her church, got “out of the habit” one summer and stopped attending and participating regularly.

A lay visitation team from the church soon came to her house to let her know that she had been missed at church.  It was a chilly evening.  The team leader found her at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire in her fireplace.  Guessing the reason for the visit, the woman welcomed them, led them to a big couch near the fireplace, and waited.

The team made themselves comfortable but said nothing.  After a few minutes, the team leader took fire tongs sitting nearby, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember, and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.

Then she sat back in the couch with the rest of the team, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet fascination.  As the one ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.  Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail."  Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the team was ready to leave, the leader picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.  As the team reached the door, the host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the 'fiery sermon.' I shall be back in worship Sunday."

This summer, if you've accidentally slipped into the habit of missing worship, remember (as this woman did) that  Christians grow and "glow" with the love of Christ best when we gather together to worship, study, and pray (as the scripture above indicates).  For those of you we’ve missed seeing this summer, I hope you back in worship soon!  There’s a place for you at East Cobb!  Remember, God loves you and so do I!