Sunday, November 25, 2012

Want To Have A "Wonderful Life" This Holiday Season?

Everyone wants a “wonderful life”. We want to have a good job, successful marriage and friendships, and know that we’ll be taken care of both in our present and in our future. But what does it take to have such “wonderful” lives? We know from experience that they don’t just fall into our laps. So, what are some of the things we have to do to bring this kind of life to pass?

During our worship services December 2-24, we’ll focus our attention on a few of these things in a new sermon series called “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Plan to join us each week as we unpack biblical lessonsfrom the famous holiday movie of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart, learning how these lessons can truly help us to have a “wonderful life” this holiday season!

December 2 – It’s A Wonderful Life: ENVISION IT (Luke 21:25-36)

December 9 – – It’s A Wonderful Life: PREPARE FOR IT (Luke 3:1-6)

December 16 – 10:30am & 7:00pm, (our Music Ministry’s Christmas Musical)

December 23 – – It’s A Wonderful Life: SHARE IT (Luke 3:7-14)

December 24 (4:30pm, 8pm & 11pm) –  It’s A Wonderful Life: TREASURE IT (Luke 2:1-20)

Invite your friends, neighbors, and loved ones to come and discover the simple but life-changing power of Christmas through our Advent and Christmas worship!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three Ways To Be Thankful


“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.” (Psalms 92:1-2)

Back when I was in college, I remember hearing my pastor share a Thanksgiving sermon that was especially meaningful to me -- enough that I wrote down the main points and have kept them all these years!  As we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I share with you these same “Three Ways To Be Thankful” in the hope that they will inspire you as they did me.

During Thanksgiving, we are challenged to have…

1) Thankful Minds - learn to become aware of all the blessings given to you by God… your family, friends, health, and for people that helps us be the best we can be.  In the words of a famous hymn, “Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”  In other words, learn to acknowledge the outward blessings of God.

2) Thankful Hearts -- Philippians 4:6 says “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart.” Learn to be thankful for the inner, spiritual “gifts” of God in our lives… blessings that may not be outwardly apparent, but which one can choose to see as blessings with the right perspective.  This could include things like being “thankful” for being laid off, for an illness that causes us to see our need for (and reliance on) God even more, and even learning to be thankful for the troubles and trials of life that help us grow.  In other words, learn to acknowledge the inward blessings of God.

3) Thankful Hands -- James 1:22 says that we are to “be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”  “Hands” here represents our actions and deeds.  In other words, we are not called to keep our thankfulness of “mind” and of “heart” to ourselves.  Instead, we’re called to show thankfulness through what we do…  through our loving and caring for others, sharing their joys and sorrows, their good times and bad.

My prayer is that this Thanksgiving holiday, you’ll remember and enjoy God’s blessings in your life.  But more than that, I pray that you’ll also allow those blessings to inspire you to practice your thankfulness in the three ways above.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Acts 1:8 In Action At East Cobb UMC


“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

When Jesus first called his disciples to be witnesses throughout the world in the scripture above, he shared a process that has become a model for mission work ever:

1) We are called first to be in mission and ministry to and with our “Jerusalem” --  people all around us in our own local backyard here in Marietta and eastern Cobb County.  Here at ECUMC, our own Pastor’s Food Pantry and work with Marietta M.U.S.T. are examples of this focus.

2) We are also called to be in mission and ministry to and with our “Judea -- people a bit further away (i.e., throughout our state or geographic region), but still closer to home than “the ends of the earth.” ECUMC’s annual mission trips to Mountain T.O.P. mission project in Tennessee and other disaster relief work trips to New Orleans and other places are examples of this focus.

3) Plus, we are also called to be in mission and ministry to and with our “Samaria” -- people who are fundamentally different  than us, whether culturally, racially/ethnically, theologically, age-wise, or in some other fashion.  Our local Kenyan ministry and congregation are one example of this focus at ECUMC.

4) But finally, we are also called to be in mission and ministry to the ends of the earth.  Recently here at ECUMC, this focus has included international mission trips to places like Honduras and Kenya, as well as our annual “Operation Christmas Child” shoebox collection for needy children around the world.

In worship today, we celebrated one of our new “Judea” and “Samaria” mission connections:  our new partnership with and support for Mr. Gary Locklear, Church and Community Worker and Home Missioner for the United Methodist Church, serving Native Americans in the western part of North Carolina.  CLICKHERE for more information about his work. 

In the meantime, I invite you to celebrate the diversity of mission work we’re engaged in at ECUMC, and to “get in” on some of it if you’re not already.  For more information about our mission ministries, contact our mission ministry team HERE.

Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Preparing For Election Day


“For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14)

This coming Tuesday is Election Day here in the United States, and as registered voters head to the polls to cast our ballot, we would do well to remember the words of wisdom from John Wesley, founder of Methodism, in what he wrote to his fellow Methodists in the 1774 British Parliamentary elections:

“I met those of our [Methodist] Society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,…

1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy;

2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against; And…

3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

            [--From John Wesley’s Journal, October 6, 1774]

In today’s politically-charged culture, Wesley’s words are certainly ones we as followers of Christ should heed.  Whoever you vote for, remember that in the end, God is still on the throne, and that His ultimate plans can be neither improved upon nor thwarted by any human leader.

So, pray for our nation, for our candidates, for the eventual elected officials, and for we who are voters. Pray that not only would our leaders be Godly in their leadership, but that we would all allow God to lead us in our daily lives, as well.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Responding to Hurricane Sandy

The people of The United Methodist Church (we) are already hard at work in responding to Hurricane Sandy. Below you'll find what we're already doing and how you can help further.

We Are Prepared:
  • 9,000 Cleaning Buckets (Flood Buckets) from United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) are now in staging areas in the northeast ready for distribution
  • UMCOR is already on the ground in the Caribbean and the northeast U.S.
  • In October alone, North Georgia Disaster Response and United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) teams have offered: Disaster Assessment Training, GEMA Volunteer Reception Training, Disaster CARE Team Training, Mission Team Leader Training, and Chainsaw Certification Training
  • Trained North Georgia Early Response Teams are on call and ready to respond when we are called
  • Trained UMVIM Teams are on call and ready to respond when we are called

We Can Give:
--If you would like to contribute to a special offering through our church, please mark your gifts with "Hurricane Sandy Relief" in the memo line and place it in the offering plate.

OR...

--Give online to UMCOR Hurricane Relief ($10 suggested donation or more) by clicking HERE.

OR...

--You can also text the word RESPONSE to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation to UMCOR Hurricane Sandy relief.

We Can Assemble UMCOR KitsThere is a great need for Cleaning Buckets (Flood Buckets) and School Kits. Instructions on assembling UMCOR kits can be found at www.umcorg.org or download the lists below:

We Can Stay Informed:

  • Download the UMCOR App: The free UMCOR app provides you with up-to-date information about UMCOR’s work. You can now see alerts, the UMCOR Hotline, blog, and other informative items on your mobile device. Download your UMCOR app today on your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
  • Follow the UMC Connections Blog: United Methodist News Service is updating the blog www.umcconnections.org each day, throughout the day.
  • Subscribe to Emergency Alerts from North Georgia Conference: North Georgia Conference will keep you alerted to requests and needs. Subscribe at www.ngumc.org/site/stayconnected.

We Can Volunteer:All response efforts for Hurricane Sandy remain to be in the emergency and rescue stage. UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) will communicate to our church and other UM churches via email, Facebook posts, and Twitter any news that we receive. Rebuilding is a long and arduous process, so when they are ready for volunteer teams, we will pass those needs along as they occur.

We Can Pray:
Please continue to keep those affected by this disaster in your prayers.  Remember that God is still on His throne, regardless of the challenges that affect our lives!