Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Lesson Of The Fire Coals

"Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another." (Hebrews 10:25)

There once was a member of a certain Christian congregation who, though once very active in her church, got “out of the habit” one summer and stopped attending and participating regularly.

A ministry team from church soon came to her house to let her know that she had been missed at church.  It was a chilly evening.  The team leader found her at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire in her fireplace.  Guessing the reason for the visit, the woman welcomed them, led them to a big couch near the fireplace, and waited.

The team made themselves comfortable but said nothing.  After a few minutes, the team leader took fire tongs sitting nearby, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember, and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.

Then she sat back in the couch with the rest of the team, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet fascination.  As the one ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.  Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail."  Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the team was ready to leave, the leader picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.  As the team reached the door, the host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the 'fiery sermon.' I shall be back in worship Sunday."

This summer, if you’ve accidentally slipped into the habit of missing worship, remember (as this woman did) that  Christians grow and “glow” with the love of Christ best when we gather together to worship, study, and pray (as the scripture above indicates).  For those of you we’ve missed seeing this summer, I hope you back in worship soon!  After all, as the scripture above indicates, worship matters to God, so it should matter to us!

Here at LaGrangeFirst UMC, there’s a place for you in worship (click the previous link to find out more) Whether it’s using formal ritual, tradition, and music at either our 9:00am Chapel and 11:00am Sanctuary services, or using casual liturgy and song at our contemporary service that will move to 10:55am on September 10th and be renamed “THE BRIDGE, each of us needs regular corporate worship in order for our souls to be fed properly.

So, regardless of your pattern of worship up to now, I hope you’ll remember the lesson of the fire coals and plan to make a regular habit of worshipping with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we move into Fall at LFUMC!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017-18 Bible Study Opportunities

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

As God’s people, one of the tools we’re given to discover, grow, and mature in Christian faith is the Bible.  Unfortunately, many spiritual people have never unlocked the power of this God-given tool because they’ve never taken time to actually study it in-depth with others.

That’s why each year our church offers various small-group experiences where you can spiritually learn and grow together with other Christians as you study God’s word.  Through daily readings and guided discussions once each week, participants not only come to understand the Bible better, but come to discover its relevance and power in and for their daily lives, while at the same time developing rich and long-lasting friendships with fellow participants.  I’ve personally witnessed many lives changed and transformed in remarkable ways through the power of group Bible studies.

Granted... such studies are not for the casual Christian.  They usually involve hard work, commitment, and diligence – but the rewards are literally “out of this world!”  I’ve heard many spiritual people talk about their desire to grow in and learn more about faith – being part of a group Bible study is one of the best ways around to help each of us do just that!

Next year (2017-18), here are four signature small group Bible studies that our church will be offering this Fall:
Disciple I "Fast Track" -- a 24-week introduction and overview of the entire Bible. This course is the prerequisite to any other "Disciple" course.  Offered on Tuesdays from 5:30pm-7pm, beginning August 15 (with time off before Thanksgiving thru Christmas). Find out more about this study HERE.
Disciple II "Fast Track" -- a 24-week in-depth study of Genesis-Exodus and Luke-Acts.  Offered on Sundays from 5:00pm-6:30pm, beginning August 13  (with time off before Thanksgiving thru Christmas). Find out more about this study HERE.
6-week study on the minor prophets Hosea, Joel, Amos, Habakkuk, and 
Malachi, using Scripture and other material.  Offered Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30pm, September 6-October 18 (but not Oct. 11).
           ● A 6-week study on David, using Scripture and other material.  Offered Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30pm October 25-December 6 (but not Nov. 22).

So if you’re serious about your faith growth and want to find out more, then I invite you to worship at any of our services on Sunday, June 23rd for our annual “Discipleship Sunday” to hear how our group Bible studies from this past year have impacted the hearts and lives of some of your fellow church family, and how you can experience it for yourself beginning this Fall 2017.  Your life will never be the same after you take a group Bible Study class!  So what are you waiting for?

Remember that God loves you and I do, too!