Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sing We Now of Christmas

"The Shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen…” (Luke 2:20)

“Sing we now of Christmas, Noel sing we here
Sing our grateful praises to the maid so dear.
Sing we Noel! The King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas Sing we here, Noel!

From the Eastern kingdoms come the wise men far
Bearing ancient treasure following yonder star.
Sing we Noel! The King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas Sing we here, Noel!

From the distant mountains hear the trumpet sound
With angelic blessings on the silent town.
Sing we Noel! The King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas Sing we here, Noel!

Come let us surround him on this magic night
Gather here around him wondrous babe of light.
Sing we Noel! The King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas Sing we here, Noel!”

[--Traditional French Carol, The United Methodist Hymnal #237]

May the joy of the Christ-child born in Bethlehem be yours as you continue to celebrate Christmas this year! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mary's Dream

"Mary treasured all these words [of the Shepherds] and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

“I had a strange dream, Joseph. I'm not sure, but I think it was about a birthday for our son. The people had been preparing for it for six weeks by decorating the house and buying new clothes. They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts. It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren't for our Son. They were wrapped in beautiful paper and tied with lovely bows and stacked under trees. Yes, Joseph, a tree, right in their house -- with branches decorated and full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments. And there was a figure on the top of the tree -- an angel I think.

Everyone was laughing and happy and all excited about the gifts, and they gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son. I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him? I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding. Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone so happy, but it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus -- not to be wanted at His own birthday party. I'm glad it was only a dream, though. How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real.”
[–By Lloyd D. Lance]

As we prepare for Christmas, let’s remember the true “reason for the season” – as you make plans for your holiday family celebrations, don’t leave him out! Make plans to focus on him by attending worshiping Christ on Christmas Eve at church with your family and friends.

We’ll have three candlelight worship experiences to help you do just this: 4:30pm service especial for families with children; 8:00pm traditional service with Christmas message and Holy Communion; 11:00pm Lessons and Carols with Holy Communion. Finally, don’t forget to celebrate Jesus on Sunday December 29th and Sunday January 5th with our regular service schedule.

Worship Christ this Christmas! And always remember that God loves you and do, too!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!


“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Luke 2:13-14)

“Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise;
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail, the heavenborn Prince of Peace! 
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die,
Born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

            [--Charles Wesley, 1739, The United Methodist Hymnal #240]

Today our music and worship arts ministry reminds us to celebrate the coming of the Christ-child through music during their annual Christmas Cantata.  Whether or not you can sing personally, I pray that you will have a song in your heart this holiday season for the coming of Christ in your life as you celebrate as the angel host did 2000 years ago!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Mission Offering

"[You are to] do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life" (1 Timothy 6:18-19) 

The following is a copy of a letter from myself and our Finance Chairperson Judy Jones that our whole congregation will receive by mail this week (if not already).  I share it again in the interest of encouraging your participation...

---------------------

Dear ECUMC Family & Friends,

These are challenging yet exciting times in our personal lives, in the life of our country and in the life of our Church as well.  When we read the newspaper, watch TV or surf the internet, or even review our investment statements we are often getting bad news.  So, let us instead share some incredibly good news about how your investment in God’s work through your church enabled us to achieve its mission in 2013.  Your gifts have enabled us to…

****Reach over 350 people each week through our three principle worship services, Wednesday Night Supper, and other opportunities for fellowship and networking  GATHERING to embrace God and others

***Impact over 400 people weekly through 40+ small groups and community ministry resources, including continued significant growth of our Lighthouse Academy Daycare Center… GROWING in faith, hope and love

***Welcome 55 new members and over 175 regular guests (topping 1000 members for the first time in our history), and be in ministry to over 500 people weekly through various local church mission ministries, and to even more through special opportunities like Mountain T.O.P., annual Great Day of Service, M.U.S.T., and others  GOING into our world to serve and share Jesus

Consequently, the Christmas season is an ideal time for us to pray about ways we can share in year-end giving that will make a real difference in people’s lives:

(1) First, regarding our 2013 General Ministry Fund, we celebrate your faithfulness this year that has enabled us to stay “in the black” nearly all year long.  Thank you!!!  But even if you are up to date on your annual financial commitment, don’t forget that now is a great time to make additional gifts in order to take advantage of current tax laws.

(2) As one idea for this, we are excited to continue the new ECUMC Christmas tradition of designating offerings collected at our Christmas Eve services as a Christmas Mission Offering. This year the focus of that offering will be Family Promise of Cobb County, a new ministry with which we will be partnering in 2014 to help eradicate homelessness here in our own community – the ministry is described in the attached brochure HERE.  We ask that, in the spirit of Christmas, you prayerfully consider giving “over and above” your general fund tithe or gifts to this special offering during one of our three Christmas Eve services (or before if you won't be in town).  Please mark your checks/envelopes “Christmas Mission Offering”, or donate online HERE.

Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for, attending, serving in, and giving financially to His Church this year.  We trust that God will honor your faithfulness as you continue to grow in His kingdom.  We wish you, your family, and all your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014!

 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A D V E N T

"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 ...as a babe in Bethlehem. We listen to Old Testament prophets who promised a coming Messiah

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

(3) In the Future ...as 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 December 1st! I’ll see you then! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

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 who models the love of God by loving me just as I am, warts and all!

…for a daughter who makes Trish and I proud not only because of what she does but more 
importantly because of who she is and the beautiful woman of God she’s become.

...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 myself daily.

...for all of my fellow staff members -- Jim P, Cindy, Peter, Frieda, Rob, Jim H, Leanna, Nancy, Bronwyne, Lee, Barbara, and Nicole -- who, together with me, share in the cause and work of Christ through our church.

…for church members who love me in spite of the fact that we “go over” in worship far too many Sundays due to long-winded preaching!

...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 Christ through their participation in and leadership of our church’s ministries.

...for the “behind-the-scenes” members of our sound, multi-media ministries and those who help prepare our bulletins and newsletters 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 all the volunteers and staff of our church nursery who give tirelessly of themselves to make sure our children are safe and happy.

…for the members of our Kenyan congregation who remind us of our calling to be Jesus to the whole world, even when that world is here among us!

…for the staff and teachers of Lighthouse Academy, in keeping us in touch with the needs of the community that we are tasked to serve.

...for church members who roll up their sleeves and pitch in to be part of "the answer," rather than whining about what someone else is not doing to fix "the problem."

...for all the great volunteers who lovingly help in all of our Sunday night and Wednesday evening activities.

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

…for our “be BOLD” capital campaign and new Building Committee that will advance the vision of our church into the future.

...for fellow Christians who’re willing to step outside themselves by participating in serving and/or sharing ministries both locally and/or overseas.

…most importantly, for God who gave his son for me to give me forgiveness and salvation when I didn’t deserve it, and for giving me life and hope in the midst of a hectic world!

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!

FOR WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL???

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Job Or A Ministry?

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Yesterday (Nov. 16) we commissioned our church’s leaders for 2014 during our annual “Leadership Commissioning & Orientation.”  Each of our leaders has been called by God to do the work of ministry in and through our church.  But how, exactly, can one tell if something we’re doing is just a “job”, or if it’s an actual “ministry”?  To find out, we should ask ourselves these questions…

“If you are doing it because no one else will, it’s a job. 
            If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it’s a ministry.
If you are doing it just well enough to get by, it’s a job.
            If you are doing it to the best of your ability, it’s a ministry.
If you will do it only so long as it doesn't interfere with other
           activities, it’s a job. If you are committed to staying with it,
            even when it means letting go of other things, it’s a ministry.
If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you,
            it was a job. If you stay with it even when no one seems
            to notice, it’s a ministry.
If you do it because someone else said it needs to be done, it’s
            a job. If you do it because you are convinced it needs to
            be done, it’s a ministry.
It is hard to be excited about a job.
            It is almost impossible NOT to get excited about a ministry.
People may say “Well done” when you do your job.
            The Lord will say “Well done” when you complete your ministry.
An average church is filled with people doing jobs.
            A great church is filled with people involved in ministry.”
                                  [--From the newsletter of Mt. View UMC in Kingsport, Tennessee]

I’m so glad to be part of a “great church” filled with people willing to do true ministry!  Always remember that whatever it is that we do or are called to, let’s do it as ministry with the world through God’s church. Remember that God loves you and I do, too

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Your Church Staff

NOTE: This is from our 2012 staff retreat, and so is missing several of our valuable current staff members:  Lee Busey; Rob Frank; Leanna Wilson; Barbara Stanley; and Nicole Taylor
“The gifts he gave were… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith… to maturity, …to the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
 
The first part of this week (Nov. 10-13), your church staff will be away on a retreat at Camp Glisson, our United Methodist youth camp in Dahlonega, GA.  While there, we’ll not only be inviting God to renew our passion and calling for ministry, but to become better equipped ourselves so we can help you (our members and friends) to answer and fulfill your calling for ministry, too.

In case you weren’t aware, our Staff Mission Statement accurately describes how we seek to carry that purpose out as we attempt to fulfill the words of the scripture above from Ephesians 4.  It’s our “reason for being”, if you will:  we as your church staff exist… “To glorify God together by Empowering and Encouraging East Cobb UMC members and leaders to be God’s Church in our world.” 

Let me remind us all of what these phrases mean for each and every church member and friend:

· To Glorify God means that we view our work not primarily as a “job” that has set hours and boundaries, but first and foremost as a “calling” and as a “ministry” that gives us opportunities to glorify God through what we do.  It means that we will be responsible to attend to our own spiritual walk with God, and that the ministry of “glorifying God” will at times be more important than individual tasks we may do.  It means we will work to identify our own spiritual gifts, passions and abilities, and will place a priority on cultivating and developing these.

· Together refers to “teamwork” — it means we believe our calling and ministry can best be achieved as we work together as a “team,” rather than merely as a collection of individuals who happen to work in the same organization.

· Empowering refers to equipping, training, educating and commissioning others with the
       spiritual authority to act.
   
· Encouraging refers to affirming other leaders/members in their work, helping them to
     embrace a “teachable spirit” (a willingness to grow/improve), and helping them to
     critically evaluate progress towards specific goals.

· To be God’s Church means that we believe that all of us as  church members and leaders (not just “church staff”) are “God’s Church.”  It refers to the fact that we are “God’s” church, not “our” church (hence God’s plans and visions need to take priority over our own self selfish wants)

· In the World means we are to be “God’s Church” not merely within the walls of our
     building, but within our local and world community — it refers to the fact that if we expect
    church members and leaders to do ministry “outside the walls,” then we as staff must do
    this, as well.
 
So, our prayer as your staff is that as we work to carry out our mission as God’s church, we’ll all remember these as we partner together – staff and members, guests and friends, clergy and laity -- to be the church of Jesus Christ in our community and world. Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Family Promise - Jesus With Skin On

“’And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you?’… And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:38 & 40)

Hopefully by now most of you know that -- beginning in 2014 -- our church will join 12 other area churches in hosting homeless families (parents with children) four weeks out of each year through the ministry of something called “Family Promise of Cobb County.”  While this may sound intimidating to some, it’s really a very practical and easy way that we can live out both our faith and calling as God’s people and church.

Back in 1998, I remember that this concept sounded very intimidating to many members of Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, GA, as well.  It was the “flagship” church of United Methodism in that city, and the place where I served as Pastor of Community and Congregational Care from 1996-2000.  Back then, “Family Promise” was known as “Interfaith Hospitality Network” (IHN), and when our church was first invited to be a host congregation, it was greeted initially by skepticism and doubt that we could actually do it, and some who wondered whether we even should do it.  Plus, there was the concern that our facilities would get messed up by “those people” (the homeless).

Nevertheless, our church took that “leap of faith” and became one of the host congregations in the network.  And the amazing thing was that over the next two years, we saw our entire church changed by the experience!  Walls, barriers, and stereotypes about homelessness came down, members’ hearts were softened and transformed, and the program itself provided opportunities for missions that we had not previously had.  Gradually, there grew a recognition that these homeless folks were just like us, except for their lack of having a permanent residence.  And while it’s true that “Family Promise/IHN” was not (and still is not) a “Christian” ministry, per se (there are other religious faiths who have and will be part of the program), volunteering and serving in it was one of the highlights of my ministry time in Augusta, and became one of the best and most successful ministries our church had ever done!

Sixteen years later, as we here at East Cobb UMC partner with Family Promise of Cobb County” both as a host congregation and as the site for the “Day Center” (administrative offices) for the entire network (in our former “Jr. Parsonage”), my prayer is that we’ll see God at work in the same miraculous way, not only to make a difference in the lives of homeless families, but in the way that this program will enable us to be “Jesus with skin on” to needy families in our community -- to literally fulfill Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 (above).

So, I pray that you will join me and my family not only in volunteering to cook and stay overnight with our host families when asked, but also to pray for them and for ourselves as we seek to be a “home” to those who temporarily have no other.  You’ll be hearing more about this important new ministry initiative of our church in the near future, but in the meantime, for more information read Cindy Campbell’s introduction article already posted.

Remember, God loves you and I do, too!



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Serenity Prayer - FULL VERSION

After I shared this in worship this past Sunday, several of you have asked me for it.  Many of us know something called the “Serenity Prayer,” attributed to the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). 

Among other places, it’s been adopted and used extensively in “Alcoholics Anonymous” and other twelve-step programs.  However, most of us don’t realize that the original, fuller version of this prayer is even richer.  Here it is again, in case you missed it Sunday…

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,  enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.”                     (-Reinhold Niebuhr, 1943)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saint Bernard, Snow Rescuer

…All of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to love on.” (Mark 12:44)

The Saint Bernard dog is almost an icon for us, representing rescue from snowy danger.  But how did a dog come to bear the title “saint?”  The story goes that in seventh-century France there was a terrible blizzard that buried most of the countryside. People could scarcely get out of their homes, but thankful for warmth and food.  Bernard was just an ordinary man of modest station in life, but full of faith in and love for God.

Though he had hated to miss worship services on Sunday, it occurred to him that that meant he and everyone else had also missed the chance to give his weekly offering.  “I know my church’s funds were already low,” he thought to himself, “especially since just days before we sent off the last of our mission support.”  Just then, Bernard thought he heard God whisper to him, “What if the snow had meant you didn't get paid.  Would you just shrug your shoulders and say ‘Oh well, that’s too bad’?”

So, with that thought fresh in his mind, Bernard put on his coat and trudged off to the church.  “Others may or may not, but I’m going to do the right thing….”  The priest met him gladly at the door.  “Father John,” Bernard said, “I was worried about your well-being and the church.  So, here’s my offering,” and handed the priest his weekly tithe.  The priest couldn't believe it and shouted out “Bernard, you’re a saint if I ever saw one!”

Okay, that may not be the real story behind the name, but it makes for a good pastor’s article!  Nevertheless the challenge is the same: worship is not a performance and our tithes and offerings are not an admission cost.  Instead, they are a way to honor our gracious God.  Even if we can’t be present in worship every week, let’s not fail to heed His word to set aside our first fruits and bring them to this storehouse (the church) so that they can make a difference in our communities and our world! 


So, BE A SAINT… join me in returning your completed “U.P.” financial response cards as soon as possible to help ECUMC plan ministries for God’s kingdom in 2014.  Remember, God  loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Charles Schultz Philosophy

Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.”  (Matthew 20:26-27)

Many of you will remember the popular cartoonist Charles Schultz, author of the famous “Peanuts” comic strip where we find American legends like Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, and Woodstock.  Schultz had a creative ability weave his passionate Christian faith into his characters and their endeavors.  The following is an article attributed to him that makes a significant point about the realities of “greatness” as described in the scriptures:

“1.  Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2.  Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3.  Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4.  Name ten people who have won a Nobel Prize.
5.  Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for Best Actor/Actress
6.  Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?  The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday.  These are no second-rate achievers.  They are the best in their fields.  But the applause dies.  Awards tarnish.  Achievements are forgotten.  Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.   So, with that in mind, here’s another quiz.  See how you do on this one:

1.  List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2.  Name three friends who helped you through a difficult time.
3.  Name five people who taught you something worthwhile.
4.  Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated.
5.  Think of five people with whom you enjoy spending time.
6.  Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier?  The lesson:  the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.  They are the ones that care.”


As we serve one another and others in love, we are demonstrating that we truly care for them.  And that is true “greatness” in the kingdom of God! Remember, God  loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

U.P. -- UNLEASHING POTENTIAL

Give, and it will be given to you. You will have more than enough. It can be pushed down and shaken together and it will still run over as it is given to you. The way you give to others is the way you will receive in return.”  (Luke 6:38 NLV)


Many people have great potential that is never realized -- goals we never achieve, aspirations we never reach, visions we never see accomplished -- all because our potential never gets unleashed.  We never take the time or intentionality to cultivate and give attention to the things we need to do to turn promise in fulfillment, possibility into completion, potential into reality, and so we never achieve or reach all that we can be.

And yet, God gives us various tools to help us do this -- “means of grace” we call them in the Wesleyan Christian tradition, that can assist us in reaching our full calling.  Our weekly themes even align precisely with our own mission/purpose as a church here at East Cobb UMC:
            ● Gathering UP – the power of Christian community
            Growing UP – the power of understanding & practicing
                        generosity
            Going UP – the power of serving and sharing Christ
                        with others
            Giving UP – the power of surrender of both ourselves &
                        our possessions to God

I pray that you will join me and your fellow sisters and brothers in Christ as we explore just a few of these throughout the month of October in our journey to “Unleash” the “Potential” (U.P.) that’s within each of us and become the people God wants us to be!  Remember, God  loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Grow Through Worship. Starve Without It

“Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day [of the Lord] approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

I=ve heard it said somewhere that an action repeated for at least 21 days can create a habit.  Well, I want to challenge everyone reading this article to make a Ahabit@ out of being in God=s House each week for corporate worship, fellowship, and learning.  Perhaps your life has gotten busy and you=ve Agotten out of the habit@ of being in worship.  Maybe you=ve cherished a few extra minutes of sleep on Sunday morning, or have grown accustomed to tuning in to a favorite television ministry or church service in your pajamas, with coffee mug in hand.  Or, you might have unwittingly developed into a AC&E Christian@ (attending only at Christmas and Easter).

But as the scripture text above reminds us, there=s simply no substitute in our own personal, emotional, and spiritual life for participating together with sisters and brothers in the worship and praise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  With it, we experience God’s presence in a powerful way, and lives are touched and changed through it.  Without it, we starve our spirits. The same can be said of not only corporate worship but also in small classes and groups for prayer, Bible learning, and fellowship.  In other words, when we worship, fellowship, and learn together at church, we=re fulfilling our own church=s purpose of being AA Mosaic of God=s Family: GATHERING (to embrace God and all people); GROWING (in faith, love, and joy); and GOING (into the world to serve and share Jesus).@  

So, I hope you won=t miss out on the blessing God has in store for YOU through regular participation in weekly worship and small group fellowship and learning!  I plan on being here, and I look forward to seeing you, too, as we all make a Ahabit@ of Ameeting together@ at church each week!  Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Forgiveness


“[Peter asked Jesus] ’How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said… ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.’”  (Matthew 18:21-22)

"It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible: Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness.”

            [--Song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West, from his album Into the Light (Lyrics HERE)]

While this song was only shared by our Praise Band in 9:30am “HeartLight” worship this week, the words are appropriate and understandable for all audiences.  I pray that as you read/sung/heard them, you were moved as I was to be even more a person of forgiveness!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!