Sunday, May 25, 2014

2014 Bishop's Offering

“Posterity will serve [God]; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.” (Psalm 22:30-31)

Many of you are aware that each year our Bishop of North Georgia United Methodism (Michael Watson) designates an annual “Bishop’s Mission Offering” to be collected by North Georgia United Methodist churches in the weeks leading up to Annual Conference, and then shared by each church’s delegates at a worship service during Conference.

This year, Bishop Watson has announced that our 2014 Annual Conference Bishop’s Mission Offering will support two worthy efforts to help young people thrive:  the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF); and ELI, the Experiential Leadership Institute of the North Georgia Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries. These two ministries address uniquely different aspects of physical, emotional, and spiritual health for young people, and this year’s Bishop’s Offering will be shared between both of them.

Look for the bulletin inserts in our weekly worship bulletins to find out more information about these projects, or CLICK HERE for information online.

I invite you to join me in participating in this special opportunity t make a difference in the lives and futures of young people with an over-and-above-your-regular offering financial gift.  To contribute, please make your check payable to East Cobb UMC and designate either it or cash to our “Bishop’s Mission Offering.” 

We’ll be collecting funds through June 8th, and will present our church’s combined check during the offering time at the Annual Conference afternoon worship service on Wednesday, June 11th.  Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Graduate Scriptures

As we celebrate the accomplishments of all our graduates this week, here is collection of just a few Bible verses designed to remind them of the hope and faith they can have in God as they prepare for their future:

Joshua 1:9
...Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Psalm 71:5
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. 

Psalm 119:9
How can young people keep their paths pure? By guarding them according to what [God] has said. (CEB)

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own intelligence.  Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.

Proverbs 19:21
Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will succeed. (CEB)

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live,
in your love, your faith, and your purity. (NLT)

Congratulations to all of our graduates!  And remember that God loves you and so do I!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honoring Our Mothers

“‘Honor your father and mother’—this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’”(Matthew 13:45-46)

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands... no way.” “It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers need to have.” “That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded: “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when they goof up and still say ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”Come to bed, Lord. You can finish tomorrow,” said the angel, touching God’s sleeve gently. “I can’t,” answered the Lord. “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she’s sick.... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger... and can get a seven-year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed. “But tough!” said the Lord. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.” “Can it think?” “Not only that, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator. Finally the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she said. “It’s not a leak.... It’s a tear” said the Lord. “What’s it for?”It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride.” “You’re a genius!” said the angel. “Now you know why I want them honored!” replied the Lord.

If you’re reading this on Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day and a great time to thank God for the mothers of our lives - those who gave us birth and those are like mothers to us. If you’re reading this after Sunday, then it’s still not too late! Take time right now to thank God for your mothers. Remember, we honor God as we honor them! And never forget that God loves you and I do, too

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Keeping the "Main Thing" the "Main Thing"

“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Recently a few of you have asked me about my thoughts on several controversial actions in society and the church such as the new Georgia Gun law, and a recent decision by our United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council

While these actions raise important questions for us all, I want to encourage and challenge us as people of faith to do something beyond simply the typical human response of “taking sides” in a way that judges others who disagree.  It’s okay to have opinions (even strong ones) about the issues at stake.  It’s okay to take stands about what you believe (and your church leadership will be finding ways to do this in appropriate ways in the near future).

In the meantime, however, I want to remind us all that life and faith together is not (and never should be) defined merely by our “positions” on any particular hot-topic or “litmus test” issue, but by our devotion and commitment to the one who is the Savior of us all:  Jesus Christ!  Whether we are gun-toters, gun-haters, pacifists, or militarists, Jesus wants to be our Lord! Whether we are gay, straight, conservative, progressive, agree that same-sex marriage is God’s will or think that those who do are “going to hell”, Jesus wants to be our Lord!  Whether we are “blue” Democrats, “red” Republicans, “green” Independents, or among those who refuse to be categorized one way or another, Jesus wants to be our Lord!

Simply put, our faith in Christ should be bigger than our faith or commitment to any particular political or theological position or issue.  For a person of Christian faith, Jesus is the main thing, and nothing else!  Let’s keep it that way and not let controversial issues divide us.  We can, should, and will discuss, share, disagree about issues, but let’s not let these cause us to be judgmental or disrespectful to anyone, especially to those with whom we disagree.  As the apostle Paul says above, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, make… every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

May the God who is bigger than any of our earthly “issues” or “positions” give us strength to rise above the behavior of the rest of the world – to model respectful dialogue and disagreement in love.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!