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


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
            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!