Sunday, April 26, 2015

Healthy Family

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

What constitutes a healthy family?  According to one family specialist, a healthy family is...      
1. Caring. Do you build bridges 
    instead of walls?
2. Respectful. Are people free to express their own opinions?
3. Convictional.  Is your family committed to a central value system?
4. Flexible. Are you willing to change the rules?
5. Expressive. Do you respond warmly to those in your family?
6. Responsible. Does each family member have some responsibility?
7. Initiating. Is your family involved in outside activities, 
    both apart and as a family?
8. Realistic. Do you see your family as others do?

[-- Howard Hendricks, Better Families BulletinMarch 1994, Volume 18:3

The characteristics above described a healthy biological family.  But these same qualities and characteristics can be applied to a spiritual family (a “church”), as well! How well do you think we here at East Cobb UMC do?  Are we caring, respectful, committed to a “central value system” (i.e., our Mission, Vision, and Values)?  Are we flexible, expressive, and responsible?  Do we initiate ministry outside ourselves, and are we realistic about the way others view us?

As we continue our “REACH” journey, I invite you to join me in giving thanks that we have a healthy spiritual family here at East Cobb UMC -- not a “perfect” one (no church is), but definitely a “healthy” one!  And just as each of us have found East Cobb UMC to be “family,” I invite us to support the work of “REACH” so that new persons today and long into the future will find a “family” home here, as well! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Things That Haven't Been Done Before

“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Colossians 3:17)

“The things that haven’t been done before,
those are the things to try.
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
at the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.

The many will follow the beaten track
With guideposts on the way,
They live and have lived for ages back
With a chart for every day.
Someone has told them it’s safe to go
On the road he has traveled o’er.
And all that they ever strive to know
Are the things that were known before.

A few strike out, without map or chart,
Where never a [person] has been,
From the beaten paths they draw apart
To see what no [one] has seen.
There are deeds they hunger alone to do;
Though battered and bruised and sore,
They blaze the path for the many, who
Do nothing not done before.

The things that haven’t been done before,
Are the tasks worth while today;
Are you one of the flock that follows, or
Are you the one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whether you win or fail, Strike out for a goal that’s new?

[-- Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)]

Today our church officially embarks on a new journey called "REACH", a 36-month endeavor that will give us the spiritual and financial tools to fulfill the vision we believe God has given us of "reaching" our community and world for Jesus Christ.  Not only do we serve one who constantly calls us forward, but who has also been there ahead of us and walks with us every step of the way. Our REACH journey will be a challenging one, but as God’s people, we're not be afraid to step out and do the things (like REACH) that God is calling us to do that have never been done before! Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

(To find out more information about our 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not Quite Dead...

“When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.’” (John 20:20b-21)

Ok, I confess. I’m impressed…  To the dismay of all (including myself), during the off-season the Atlanta Braves traded away most all of their big name players.  And by all accounts from baseball “experts,” in return they got, well… a mixture of “has beens” and “newbies,” leaving them with only about 30% of last year’s players left to play on the 2015 team.  Then, last Sunday when they traded their franchise star closing-ace Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres, I was sure this signaled the fact that in their attempt to “rebuild” the team from the ground up in anticipation of contending again in perhaps 1-2 years, their front office had given up on them for this year (and maybe it did, for this year).

But despite the pessimism of the “experts” and nay-sayers, as of this writing, this improbable band of “misfits” has gone 4-0 in the first week of play (that’s 4 wins, 0 losses for you non-sports-types) – a very surprising statistic given the two good teams that they’ve played so far!   No one (including myself, a lifelong Braves fan) expected them to be doing so well given their “remake” since last year. 

Well, on Good Friday 2000 years ago, the world of religious and political “experts” were convinced that Jesus’ death was the end of the magical story of this carpenter-turned-rabbi.  Not only was he dead and buried, but all that was left of his “movement” was a mixture of “has beens” and “newbies” who (at least at first) weren’t at all sure of their abilities.  But after Jesus’ resurrection, those first Disciples -- like this year’s “new” Braves team so far – confounded the pessimistic expectations and assumptions of  the “experts” and nay-sayers, and literally turned the world upside down with the message that Jesus was, indeed, alive!

Yes, it remains to be seen if the Braves can continue their unbelievable momentum the rest of the year (baseball season, after all, lasts a loooong time!) But one thing is sure:  they have already proven that they’re “not quite dead,” so don’t count them out yet!  In the same manner, the news on that first Easter that Jesus was “not quite dead” propelled the band of misfits we call the “Disciples” to share that good news with the world, and the world has never been the same since!  Just as with the Braves, we dare not count out the power of the gospel to transform our world for Jesus Christ. 

You and I are the “misfit” messengers of that gospel today.  So, what are you doing to share the “improbable” good news of Jesus with those around you?  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dateline Jerusalem

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” (Luke 24:5)

Dateline Jerusalem… The religious leaders of downtown Jerusalem executed one said to be the Messiah this past weekend. Jesus of Nazareth, a traveling country preacher, died on Friday at the hands of Roman authorities after having been arrested by leading members of the Sanhedrin. The Most High Priest and other officials feared a hostile takeover by this person.

Jesus bar Joseph had been welcomed into the city last Sunday by what appeared to be a spontaneous parade, hastily thrown together. However, public approval quickly faded when he caused a scene at the temple, throwing around some of the furniture. Other controversial events followed in succeeding days, such as public arguments, teaching of strange doctrines, possible hints of tax evasion, possible assault of a privately owned fig tree, wild assertions, even talk of being a direct descendent from the Holy Deity, possibly in the fashion of certain Greek philosophies.

On Thursday evening he and a group of supporters met in a family home, where it was reported he spoke of cannibalism -- the eating of flesh and drinking of blood. Then this band of possible revolutionaries assembled in an olive garden, armed themselves, and attacked a guard, forcibly removing his ear. Authorities report the matter was dealt with quickly and justly, or on Friday he was executed along with others. Sources say the matter has been laid to rest.

Stay abreast of the situation with possible special editions of the Jerusalem Times, since there have been numerous claims of appearances of the deceased radical since this past weekend.

[–Shared by Tom Pilgrim in the Fayetteville (GA) First United Methodist Church Newsletter, March 6, 2005]

May the risen Christ fill you with the joy and awe and wonderful mystery of that first Easter! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!