Sunday Messages

December 9 — Second Sunday of Advent: Home is where we meet

What is it to come home? What is home? Where is home? The answers are likely different for each of us. Some find home with their blood relatives and long-established traditions. Some find home with the person they love the most. Patients in long-term care may be in a place and time where home exists only in deep corridors of their memories.

In the midst of all the destruction around the globe right now — destruction from hurricanes, typhoons, the Alaskan earthquakes, California’s wildfires, the Illinois tornadoes, droughts, and wars — finding a place to call home may seem more distant and challenging and yet more critical than ever before.

The message this Sunday brings together the power of Psalm 85 with a focus on how home is where we meet. 

Come Sunday at 9 to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast by Donna, children’s Sunday School, and adult conversation.

Everyone is welcome!


November 18 — 26th Sunday after Pentecost: Will you leave the fire?


The message Sunday is “Will you leave the fire?” It borrows a parable from Max Lucado’s book “Gentle Thunder” and links to Psalm 16.

Bottom line, we are all offered the gifts of love and grace from our Lord, yet some refuse to accept them — choosing instead to live in darkness and cold (and ignorance). The psalmist reminds us that trusting in the Lord is what we must do to enjoy his gifts of love and grace.

Come Sunday at 9 for worship and to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay for a light breakfast by Michelle and Don.

While we usually have children’s Sunday School after breakfast, Janet will be away this week.

Everyone welcome!

November 11 — 25th Sunday after Pentecost: Honor to whom honor is due

 

This Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veteran’s Day, so it is fitting that the message, “Honor to whom honor is due,” focus on those who serve and who served.

According to the Census Bureau, there are 21.8 million military veterans as of 2014, approximately 10 percent of whom are women. To put that in context, veterans make up 7 percent of the 319.2 million Americans. Veterans are not a large group today, but their service ensured freedom for all.

Certainly, there are many whom we can and should honor. Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, medical professionals, parents, spouses, government leaders, and certainly God — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We honor God by loving him, by loving righteousness, by loving the truth, by loving giving, and yes, by loving honor.

However, today we honor veterans. Whether they enlisted or were drafted, these men and women served. They interrupted their lives to give two, three, four, or more years in defense of our nation — both at home and abroad, in peacetime and in war, decades ago and today.

Come Sunday at 9 to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast by LaDonna and Lynn, children’s Sunday School, and adult conversation.Everyone is welcome!


November 4 — 24rd Sunday after Pentecost: Not far from the kingdom

My message “Not far from the kingdom” focuses on Mark 12, where Jesus is teaching in the temple, and one of the scribes asks him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Most of us know the answer, to love God and to love our neighbors. However, the rest of the passage is where I am most interested. After he has answered, the scribe reveals that he certainly understands, saying, “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

At this, Jesus replied, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

That caught my attention in this scripture passage because how like that scribe are so many of us. How many of us are “not far from the kingdom”? We understand Jesus’ message. We make clear that he is our Lord and savior. However, do we fully embrace the two commandments to love God and to love our neighbors? Remember that we must love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength. And love our neighbor as ourselves.

I fear that’s where some of us may stumble today. That may be why we are still “not far from the kingdom.”

Join us this Sunday at 9 for worship. Hear the rest of this message, and then stay afterwards for children’s Sunday School, fellowship, and a light breakfast by Kathy and Doug. All are welcome!


October 28 — 23rd Sunday after Pentecost: The hijacking of Halloween

Halloween is a pervasive holiday, second only to Christmas in how much retail sales it generates each year. We see signs of it everywhere we look, usually beginning in late September — perhaps earlier.

This holiday has a long history, one that is shrouded (good word choice) in mystery as well as evil. What many don’t realize, though, is that our modern Halloween is actually an outgrowth of a religious day. For all intents and purposes, Halloween was hijacked to become what it is today.

Many Christians criticize Halloween as being worship of the devil, a day focused on sorcery, witchcraft, and wickedness. It need not be so. In fact, it is up to us as Christians to steer the direction of Halloween back to something that is certainly no more than harmless fun.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message, “The hijacking of Halloween.” Then, stay afterwards for food, fellowship, and children’s Sunday School in our fellowship hall.

Everyone is welcome!


October 21 — 22nd Sunday after Pentecost: His hands and feet


Our hands can tell us so much about who we are and what we do. Maybe they are soft and well manicured or rough and calloused. Our hands may have rings and scars. They may belong to an innocent child or a seasoned adult. Our hands go far to separate us from other creatures and have enabled us to succeed in making humans the most dominant and successful being on earth.

Our hands may be clenched into fists or clasped in prayer. They may point to wonderful vistas or grasp other hands to bring them along with us to new destinations.

Likewise, our feet carry us hither and yon. They extend the power of our hands far beyond arm’s reach. They help make us mobile, traveling near or far.

The message this week is “His hands and feet.” As Christians we are bound to serve our Lord, and we are bound to do his work here on earth, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Today, we are his hands and feet. Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message at 9 a.m. Then, stay for a light breakfast afterward prepared by Judy and Janet. Children’s Sunday School and adult conversation follow.

Everyone is welcome!


October 14 — 21st Sunday after Pentecost: Grace to help in time of need

Do you need help?

A lot of us are pretty independent and scorn the idea of asking for help — even when we might desperately need it. So often that involves help with finances or emotional support or some fixit tasks.

Sadly, our failure to ask for help too often includes asking God for help.

This week’s message, “Grace to help in time of need,” focuses on just that point. It makes no difference what problem or obstacle or situation confronts us. We should be willing to turn to our Lord and seek assistance.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message at 9 a.m. Then, stay after worship for food and fellowship, with a light breakfast prepared by Roy. Adult conversation and children’s Sunday School follows.

Everyone is welcome!


October 7 — 20th Sunday after Pentecost: Christians, camels, and calluses

We’ve spent a lot of time with the Letter of James during the past month or so. Today is my last message focusing on that very rich and dynamic letter.

James was a powerful advocate for prayer. It is also said that he would spend many hours each day praying on his knees in the Temple for the people to be forgiven of their sins, so much so that he developed calluses on his knees. People said he had the “knees of a camel.” He was a man of persistent prayer, and there is much that we can learn from his example.

Come Sunday for 9 a.m. worship to hear the rest of the message, “Christians, camels, and calluses. Then, stay for a light breakfast, prepared this week by Michelle and Don — followed by adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


September 16 — 18th Sunday after Pentecost: Wise up

The Book of James continues to provide focus for my message this week. I’ll be covering several interesting points from James 3:13-4:3, not the least of which is the first verse: “13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” Good advice from James and similar to the point of my message last Sunday, that if you’re going to talk the talk, you should walk the walk — or as the British say, you should walk the talk.

James comes down pretty hard on those who embrace an earthly wisdom, which he calls demonic, among other things.

Fortunately, after berating any of us who fail to follow heavenly wisdom, James finishes this week’s passage with a most wonderful claim: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” That offers hope to all of us who struggle.

Join us for worship on Sunday at 9 a.m. and hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast prepared by LaDonna and Lynn and children’s Sunday School or adult conversation.

All are welcome!


September 16 — 17th Sunday after Pentecost: Walk the talk

The message this week, “Walk the talk,” focuses again on the Book of James. The passage this week deals with the power of our tongues to praise and to curse.

On one hand, we must be Christians who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. That means we think like Christians, talk like Christians, and act like Christians seven days a week — not just on Sunday mornings.

On the other hand, James reminds us to curb our tongues and avoid unkind words and idle gossip.

Come Sunday morning at 9 to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast (of biscuits and gravy) — this week provided by Janet and Pastor Ken, followed by adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

All are welcome!


September 9 — 16th Sunday after Pentecost: Faithing

My message Sunday is titled “Faithing.” That term means the practice of a faith. Let me clarify that: It’s not just faith itself. It is the practice of your faith, and for James and our Lord, the practice of our faith, our faith put into action, makes all the difference.
 
The scripture this week, James 2:14-17, is quite clear that faith by itself is worthless. That’s a little scary for some people who seem comfy-cozy with the notion that their belief in our Lord as their savior is all that’s needed to secure a spot in heaven.
 
Faith alone is NOT enough. As James said in this passage, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
 
Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast prepared by Judy, followed by children’s Sunday School and adult conversation and fellowship.
 
All are welcome!

September 2 — 15th Sunday after Pentecost: The power of persistent prayer

How often do you pray? Occasionally? On Sundays? Every night? Several times each day?

My message this week, “The power of persistent prayer,” stresses the importance of frequent and persistent prayer. From the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8, we know we must be ever faithful in our prayer life. There is no hard-and-fast rule about when to pray or how often to pray or about what to pray.

Instead, my advice is to pray more frequently than you do now — more often than you think you should. And pray for the needs in your life. For your family and friends, your church, our country. Pray for healing. Pray for strength to carry on.

As Jesus says in the parable, always pray and don’t give up.

Join us Sunday for the rest of this message and for communion at 9 a.m. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast by Donna and fellowship, including Sunday School for children and adult conversation.


August 26 — 14th Sunday after Pentecost: Live like you were dying

Tim McGraw offers five things he’d do if he learned he was dying:

  • Love deeper and speak sweeter
  • Give forgiveness I had been denying
  • Be a friend a friend would like to have
  • Read the Good Book
  • Take a good long hard look at what I’d do if I could do it all again

This Sunday, we’ll listen to that wonderful country song and then figure out how we’d cope with the prospect of hearing we didn’t have long to live.

Join us for worship at 9 a.m. and stay for a light breakfast by LaDonna and Lynn followed by children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.

All are welcome!


August 19 — 13th Sunday after Pentecost: Walk wisely

Our scripture this week is Ephesians 5:15-20. The first two verses are the main focus of my message, “Walk wisely.”

They read, “15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Paul understood that God’s purpose for us is to make our lives count, to walk wisely — not just for this brief life on earth but for eternity. A good life purpose would be this: “To know God and to make him known.”

And that can be a challenge unless we are willing to walk wisely and give our lives over to God and his goals for us. Yes, most of us can say we know him; however, how many of us work to make him known? The first is rather passive, but the second is active — demanding that we step up and step out, that we do something to make God known to others around us.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. for the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for fellowship and a light breakfast by Twila and Wayne.

All are welcome!


August 12 — 12th Sunday after Pentecost: God’s Grace: Sanctifying Grace — the rooms in God’s house

From my messages the past two Sundays, we know that prevenient grace is the porch of the house God and justifying grace is the doorway. Today, we note that sanctifying grace represents the rooms in God’s house, where he defines his presence and determines his purposes for humanity and where we are called to dwell.
 
This is where we grow closer to God, to returning to the perfect image that we have through God, to fill all of our rooms in our house. This is where, as Wesley said, we move toward perfection. Understand, though, that by perfection, Wesley meant maturing — maturing in our love of God and our becoming more like our Lord.
 
Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast prepared by Judy as well as adult fellowship and children’s Sunday School.
All are welcome!

August 5 — 11th Sunday after Pentecost: God’s Grace: Justifying Grace — the doorway to God’s house

The message this Sunday is the second in our series on God’s Grace. This week, it’s justifying grace.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, considered justifying grace as the doorway into the house of God’s salvation. God reconciles us to himself, adopts us into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, bestows upon us our identity as beloved children, and incorporates us into the body of Christ, the church.

Justifying grace wipes clean our souls. We are as pure and unblemished as the whitest snow. We are poised, then, to live a new life, saved by our Lord’s death and resurrection, that we might serve him and join him in life everlasting.

Join us Sunday at 9 a.m. for worship, communion, and afterwards, fellowship and a light breakfast in Fellowship Hall.

All are welcome!


July 15 — Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Let’s take a little walk with the Lord


My message this week is titled “Let’s take a little walk with the Lord.” Our scripture is Matthew 14:25-33, the night that Jesus walked on water and invited Peter to do so. We all know what happened in that adventure: Peter stepped out, walked a few steps, and then took his eyes off our Lord. At that moment, he began sinking.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy walking — much, much more than I like jogging or, God forbid, running. On Sunday morning, though, we’ll visit about that little walk Peter took with Jesus and how even today — perhaps, especially today — we need to walk by faith as we carry on through the calm and the storms of life. And as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we shall journey unscathed.

Join us for worship at 9 a.m. Then, stay afterwards for fellowship, a light breakfast, and children’s Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


July 8 — Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Sneaking a miracle

The message this week is based on the passage from Mark 5:25-34, in which a woman who secretly touches Jesus’ cloak is healed of her chronic bleeding. We’ll explore this “sneaked miracle,” including the cultural significance of her actions and the spiritual significance of Jesus’ response to her. Ultimately, we can find ourselves sharing much with this woman, and we can consider whether we can touch Jesus and allow Jesus to touch us.

Join us for worship at 9 a.m. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast — supplied this week by Pastor Ken and Janet — along with fellowship and children’s Sunday School.

All welcome!


July 1 — Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: We’re not alone in the boat.

The message for Sunday, July 1, is “We’re not alone in the boat.” It is based on Mark 4:35-41, the account of Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee when a storm comes up and threatens them.

 
Jesus and his disciples are moving from the Jewish side to the Gentile side, from the side where they are at home to the side where they are strangers, from the side where life is familiar to the side where it is new, different, and unfamiliar. We may have never crossed the Sea of Galilee, but we’ve been in a boat like that, and we must always remember that we’re not alone in the boat.
 
Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message. Also, we’ll share communion during worship. Afterwards, Kathy and Doug will serve a light breakfast in Fellowship Hall, and we’ll have Sunday School for the children.
 
Everyone welcome!

June 24th — Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Stir what you got

The parable of the mustard seed is the focus of our scripture for Sunday, June 24. The title of the message is “Stir what you got.”

The only kind of mustard most of us are familiar with is the kind you put on a hotdog. Or if you grew up liking turnip greens, you might have sprinkled a few mustard green seeds in there with them. But the reason Jesus talked about the mustard seed was because mustard plants were prolific around the Sea of Galilee.

A seed is a mystery. Jesus said a farmer plants a seed but he doesn’t know how it grows. Even today, we know HOW a seed grows, but we don’t know WHY a seed grows. Only God knows that. Seeds are mysterious and mighty.

So, what’s the take-away truth of the parable of the mystery of the mighty mustard seed? God delights to bring great things out of humble beginnings. God always starts small, but he can bring great things out of humble beginnings.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay following worship for fellowship, a light breakfast by Michelle and Don, and Sunday School for the kids.

Everybody welcome!


June 3rd —  Second Sunday after Pentecost: Praying for success

My message this week is focused on Nehemiah a biblical figure with whom few people are familiar. Yet, he was instrumental in the rebuilding and re-establishment of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. following the Babylonian exile.

Our scripture is from the Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 1, verses 1-7 and 11.

In his prayers, Nehemiah followed three steps.
First, Nehemiah began his prayer with praise.
Second, he persisted in prayer.
Third, through prayer, Nehemiah prepared himself to do whatever God asked him to do.

In prayer, Nehemiah identified himself as God’s humble servant and asked God to give success to him as his servant, going about his business. You see, prayer is not an excuse for doing nothing. Prayer does not absolve us of the responsibility to act. When we pray, it’s like we are reporting for duty. We must be ready to surrender, to sacrifice, and to serve.

As part of Amazonia’s Year of Prayer focus, we can learn much from Nehemiah and follow his steps in seeking our own prayer success.

Come Sunday for worship at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay for fellowship and a light breakfast, prepared by Donna.

May 27th —  Trinity Sunday: One for all and all for one

This is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, a day that the Christian Church historically has celebrated one of its central beliefs — that of a triune God, the Trinity. My message title, “One for all and all for one,” brings together two ideas.

The first is that our God one God made up of three persons — a mystery that is hard for humans to understand.

The second is that our God’s love and grace are available to everyone — all of us and each of us. Recall the parable of the Good Shepherd, wherein the Shepherd leaves his flock of 99 in order to find the one lost sheep. Recall also Matthew 6, wherein our Lord tells us that if the Father will take care of the birds of the air he will certainly take care of each of us.

Come Sunday for worship at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of his message. Then, stay for fellowship and a light breakfast, made by Michelle and Don.
 

Everyone is welcome!


May 6th — Sixth Sunday of Easter: They happiness myth

My message on Sunday is “The happiness myth.”
 
What????
 
Yep. One of the big myths of Christianity is that God wants us to be happy. Did you know that nowhere in Scripture does God promise us happiness or tells us to be happy? You can look, but it’s not there.
 
To be quite honest, God is not concerned with my happiness or your happiness. I know that sounds harsh, but the reason that it sounds so harsh is that we don’t understand the true definition of happiness.
 
Happiness can be defined as an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure.
 
Hey, that sounds like something God might want for his kids, doesn’t it? But here is the kicker: Happiness is caused by external events, and therein lies the problem.
 
Hint: There is something more that God wants for us, something BETTER than happiness. Check out Psalm 16:11.
 
Come Sunday for worship at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of his message. Then, stay for fellowship and a light breakfast, made by Judy.
 
Everyone is welcome!

April 29 — Fifth Sunday of Easter: Laughing with God at life

This Sunday’s message on “Laughing with God at life” will begin with unlabeled cans.

Then, we’ll take another look at the disciple Paul and all the hardships he endured AFTER he became a follower of our Lord.

We’ll hear about coping with despair and finish the message and this series with my hope that this month of April has turned you into a fool, a fool for Christ. A fool for the rest of your life. A fool whose life journey should be permeated with laughter.

Come join us at 9 a.m. for worship, followed by fellowship and a light breakfast. This week is Ken and Janet’s turn to treat. We’ll have a couple of egg casseroles and a yummy peach cobbler (recipe generously provided by Doug and Kathy).

Everybody welcome!


April 22 — Fourth Sunday of Easter: Laughing with God at respectability

Jesters — or fools — were once members of the royal courts of medieval kings. Their job was to entertain the king and his guests. However, they also had the challenging task of delivering bad news to the king.

It may surprise you to know that the bible also had its fools — holy fools, whom God lifted up to share warnings and encourage his people to change their ways. A few of them were Noah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea.

In our scripture reading today from Corinthians, Paul says “we are fools for Christ.” Indeed, he was, and all Christians are invited to join him in his “fool’s mission.”

In more modern times, the church has seen its own holy fools — often charged with choosing God’s way over what the world considers respectability. In fact, it may surprise some to know that John and Charles Wesley certainly were holy fools in the movement they led that brought about the Methodist Church.

Today, the church still needs holy fools, folks who are willing to look foolish by the world in order to be right before God. And today, you might just be called to be a fool for Christ.

Join us for worship Sunday at 9. Stay afterwards for a light breakfast, this week prepared by Kathy and Doug.

Everyone welcome!


April 15 — Third Sunday of Easter: Laughing with God at legalism

There are some pretty strange laws on the books in our country.

In Florida, for example, bar owners may be fined up to $1,000 if they participate in or permit the contest of dwarf-tossing. In 1989, Florida outlawed this Australian bar fad of tossing little people when it caught on in southern parts of the state.

That’s pretty weird. Even more weird, a Florida legislator tried unsuccessfully to repeal the law in 2011.

Not only that, there are other laws that some say we must follow if we hope someday to be with God in heaven.

For example, Leviticus 20:10 says that if a man cheats on his wife, or vice versa, both the man and the woman must die. And this is only one of a handful of laws in Leviticus dealing with inappropriate sexual relations, typically punishable by death.

And did you know that Leviticus 21 says that people with flat noses or who are blind or lame cannot go to an altar of God. Goodness. What a silly law, but it’s in the bible!

Bottom line, in this week’s message we laugh with God at legalism. We laugh that there are all these rules we must follow to be accepted by God. We must laugh at any notion that there is anything, anything we can possibly add to the perfect sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ that brings us close to the God who loves us so much and who welcomes us to be with him in heaven.

Our scripture reading this week is Galatians 3:1-4.

Join us for worship at 9 a.m. Then, stay for a light breakfast, prepared by Michelle and Don, followed by Sunday School for the kids and adult conversation.

All are welcome!


April 8 — Second Sunday of Easter: Laughing with God at the impossible

Our scripture reading this week, Genesis 17:1-17, tells of God’s news to Abraham that he and his wife, Sarah, would have a son. OK, no big deal, right? Except it was a big deal since these new parents were already in their 90s and had not been blessed with children. Abraham and Sarah didn’t believe God could do it. They laughed. They just knew they were too old, and no physician then or now would argue with them.

Yet, God got the last laugh because they did have a child, Isaac. And Isaac had a son, Jacob, and they became key figures in the family tree of our Lord, Jesus Christ. His birth was the fulfillment of the promise God made that the whole world would be blessed through this family. And even today we continue to be blessed — even though it all started with something quite impossible.

Come join us Sunday at 9 a.m. for the second in our series “Laughing with God at the impossible.” Then, stay after worship for fellowship and a light breakfast, compliments of Donna. And we’ll finish our morning with Sunday School for the children and adult conversation.

Everyone welcome!


April 1 — Easter: Laughing with God at death

If you recall, Lent began this year on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 — yeah, it began on Valentine’s Day. So, it’s curious — and maybe a bit disconcerting — that Lent ends on Easter, April 1st — yeah, on April Fool’s Day.

Let me make something very clear, though. Regardless of the pranks that some may play today, regardless of who’s fooling whom, I want to assure you of these facts: The tomb is empty, death has been destroyed, and sin has been conquered.
No foolin’.
Sunday will be the first in a series “Laughing with God,” with the first message focused on Death.
Come join us for an Easter celebration, complete with hymns, prayer, and a message that reminds us that our Lord conquered death and rose to give us a heavenly home. Oh, a some special mementos for all children attending.
No breakfast following worship this week. Too many families want to head home to finish fixing Easter dinner for family.
All are welcome!

 

 

March 25 — Palm Sunday: Making a grand entrance

Making a grand entrance these days tends to be relegated to royalty, celebrity, weddings, and proms. It’s an opportunity to arrive at an event in such a way that all eyes are on that person coming in and is often accompanied by special music.

Yet, none of those entrances are nearly as grand as the grand entrance Jesus made into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey and hailed by hundreds in the streets with shouts of “Hosanna!”

Another grand entrance is possible today if we invite our Lord into our hearts, there to reign as our king, our Lord and Savior.

Come on Sunday at 9 a.m. to wave palms with the children and to hear the rest of my message, “Making a grand entrance.”

Stay following worship for a light breakfast, by Michelle and Don, and then Sunday School for the children.

Everyone welcome!


March 18 — Rehab: A journey to wholeness: Promise

The focus this week is on Jeremiah, one of several reluctant prophets in the Old Testament. (Can you name two others?) The scripture reading is Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Jeremiah’s words speak to us just as clearly and profoundly today as they did to the children of Israel held in captivity in Babylon all those generations ago.

The Lord said to them — and is saying to us, “No matter what you are going through, no matter how much it hurts or how difficult it is to imagine a future with hope, I promise you, it will get better one day. And you are not alone. I am with you to the end of the age.”

Our rehab during this Lenten season leads us to Palm Sunday next week, when we will follow Jesus on his grand entrance into Jerusalem. There, the promise of Old and New Testaments will be fulfilled in the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

Come to hear the rest of the message at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Then, join us in Fellowship Hall following worship for a light breakfast. This week, Twila and Wayne are providing the meal, and we’ll have an Administrative Council meeting during the Sunday School period.


March 10 — Rehab: A journey to wholeness: Recovery

Today is often referred to as Laetare Sunday. The latin word means “to rejoice.” We celebrate what it means to continue into the stage of Rehab where we start to see some real recovery taking place. We’re not all the way there, any more than we’re at Easter in just the fourth Sunday in Lent.

And indeed, the degree to which we may start to experience recovery during rehab is often mirrored by a nearly equal sense of how far we still have to go, what is still not working as it really should, or in this case, how we are still living out sinful, destructive patterns of behavior that still need to be addressed.

But we still have some reason to rejoice.

Come to hear the rest of the message, especially to understand how today’s scripture, John 3:14-18, fits both the laetare and the recovery meanings.

Then, join us in Fellowship Hall following worship for a light breakfast. This week, Pastor Ken and Janet are providing the meal — either sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits or breakfast casseroles. Show up to see which will be served.

Everyone welcome!


March 3 — Rehab: A journey to wholeness: Program

Probably all of us are familiar with the 12-Step Program used for rehabilitation by people seeking help from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Christians, too, have a program for people seeking help. It’s the Ten Commandments. These commandments are about what we stand for as people of God and as members of a Christian community. These are foundational principles for living with one another.

Yet, following all of them, in many cases, is neither easy nor simple.

Come here the rest of my message, which offers the Ten Commandments as the means by which we consider today’s hot-button topics: gun control, gay marriage, abortion, sexual harassment, gambling, alcohol, stem cell research, and the environment.

This is also Communion Sunday, and all are welcome to share in this most holy sacrament.

Join us in Fellowship Hall following worship for a light breakfast prepared by Sharon and Tim.

Everyone welcome!


 

Feb. 25 — Lenten Rehab Worship Series: Intervention

I read something in a Reader’s Digest article that seems to really strike home in my message for Sunday. Most days it’s not a battle between good and evil in our lives. It’s a matter of doing good versus doing nothing at all.

I must confess that this can describe me at times. Maybe it can describe you, too.

It’s not that we are constantly sinning and becoming some evil person aligned with the devil and actively working our way to hell. It’s more a matter of choosing too often to do nothing rather than seeking to do good. We must regularly be reminded that being a Christian isn’t a passive experience, wherein we can just hang loose — not draw attention or rock the boat.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of the message. Then, join us for food and fellowship immediately following worship.

Everyone is welcome!


 


Here’s an interesting video about Jesus in the Wilderness.

Feb. 18 — Lenten Rehab Worship Series: Wilderness

This Sunday is the beginning of our Lenten Worship Series on Rehab, with this week focused on Wilderness. While we discussed the mountaintop experience last week, this week we engage the wilderness experience.
 
Our scripture is Mark 1:9-15, wherein we read of Jesus’ baptism, followed by his 40 days in the desert. While Mark offers few details of that time, we know from other evangelists that Satan tempted our Lord three times in the wilderness.
 
Making it through the wilderness is actually pretty much the same, whether we’re talking being stranded deep in the woods in Montana or struggling to stay the course as one of our Lord’s disciples. The message this week will offer seven steps for surviving in the wilderness.
 
Join us for worship at 9 a.m., followed by food and fellowship.
 
All are welcome!

Feb. 11 — In search of mountaintop experiences

Mountaintop experiences are “aha moments.” They are called such because a mountaintop is a great place to get away from everyone. Also, from a mountaintop you can easily see where you have been and where you are going, the perfect setup for an epiphany.

So many things come together for the mountaintop experience in our scripture reading today, known as the Transfiguration of Jesus. On the mountain — thought by some to be Mount Tabor —  Jesus, Moses, Elijah, God’s voice, and witnesses to the moment all come together.

The Transfiguration took place because God the Father wanted to answer the question — definitely — once and for all: Who is Jesus?

Come this Sunday morning at 9 to hear “the rest of the story.”

Then, stay afterwards to enjoy food and fellowship. This week, Sharon and Tim are fixing breakfast. Hint: It’s pancakes!

Everyone is welcome!

 

Feb. 4 — How big is your God?

Contrary to the popular notion that man is created in God’s image, the problem we face is that man has actually created God in his own image. Therein lie the limitations that generate false and generally too-small images of God.

A generation ago J.B. Phillips wrote a book titled Your God Is Too Small. It captures the struggle many of us have because our sense of God is much smaller than the God of the Bible. The goal in this Sunday’s message is to encourage each of us to grow in our understanding of how great God really is because it’s so easy to fall into an inadequate view of the Almighty.

Join us Sunday at 9 for song, scripture, and message. Immediately following, we’ll have food and fellowship and Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


Jan. 21 — Jonah’s mulligan

Our scripture for Sunday is Jonah 3:1-10 (New International Version).

This passage deals with Jonah’s change of heart — following three days in the belly of the whale — about following God’s command to go to Ninevah and warn them to change their ways or face almighty God’s wrath and retribution.

The key takeways in this Sunday’s message is that Jonah’s story is more than just a fish story.

  • It is the story of God’s amazing mercy, grace, and love.
  • It is the story of the power of true repentance and the freedom that follows.
  • It is the story of rescue, redemption and renewal.
  • It is the story of how a people can repent, fast, pray, and receive God’s blessings.
  • It is the story of how God seeks to use his people to preach the Gospel so that others can be freed from the enslavement of sin to be the authentic human beings that he desires for us to be.

So, where in the Jonah story do you find yourself?

Join us Sunday at 9 for song, scripture, and message. Immediately following, we’ll have food and fellowship and Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


Jan. 14 — Why we don’t pray (as much as we should)

Our scripture for Sunday is Colossians 4:2-6 (New International Version).

This passage focuses on prayer, especially the need for us to be devoted to prayer.

The key takeways in this Sunday’s message are these:

  • Our lack or praying is not due to ignorance.
  • Our lack of praying is not because of a lack of benefits.
  • We find praying difficult because we underestimate the work involved with praying.
  • We find praying difficult because we underestimate the role and power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We find praying difficult because we underestimate the power of the enemy, Satan and his cohorts.
  • We find praying difficult because we overestimate our own strength in dealing with life.

Come Sunday to hear more about this important topic, my January sermon supporting our Year of Prayer.

Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Chris Blowers and enjoy some great fellowship.

All welcome!


Jan. 7 — What the Magi teach us

Our scripture for Sunday is Matthew 2:1-12.

This is a passage familiar to most of us who have heard about the Magi, or wise men. In fact, Matthew is the only evangelist to include this story.

The key takeaway from this Sunday’s message is this: God speaks to anyone who will listen, and he leads anyone who will follow.

Come Sunday to hear more about this truth and how the acts of the Magi reach down through the centuries to touch us even today.

Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Sharon and Tim and enjoy some great fellowship.

All welcome!


Oct. 29 — Don’t give God your leftovers

Our scripture for Sunday is Matthew 22:34-40:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

No doubt, many (if not most) of us will say we love God more than anyone or anything. After all, we’re in church on Sunday, at least most Sundays, unless something comes up or I’ve had a tough week.

Let me tell you, though, that God isn’t satisfied with leftovers, especially not what is left over after you invest your time, your talent, your money, and you interest in so many other things in your life.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear my message “Don’t give God the leftovers.” Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Michelle and Don and enjoy some great fellowship.

All welcome!


Oct. 22 — Render to Caesar

Jesus said, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” This is from Matthew 22, our scripture for Sunday. My message “Render to Caesar” picks up on this great answer that Jesus gives to the Pharisees and the Herodians, who sought to trap him and, ultimately, destroy him.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to see just how Jesus foils them and what meaning we may draw from his statement.

Stay afterwards for fellowship and food, this week from Karen and Larry, who always bring delicious eats.

All welcome!


Oct. 15 — The invitation

Scripture reading is Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV).

Our message this week follows the lectionary and is another familiar parable. It’s the story of the wedding feast, wherein the King invites his friends and neighbors to his son’s wedding. So, when the time of the feast comes, the King sends his servants out to remind those folks to come on over and celebrate. Well, they ignore the servants. In fact, after the King sends out a few more servants, they beat them and kill some of them. Not surprisingly, this angers the King, who sends his army out to kill those ingrates and burn their town. Next, the King sends his servants out to invite anyone they find in the streets and in the marketplace, and those folks come. All is well until the King walks around the hall and finds one man there who is not wearing wedding garments. H orders his servants to bind and gag him and toss him out. Jesus finishes with a saying that is so very familiar: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Most of this is pretty straightforward, but the poorly dressed guest and Jesus’ closing comment may be a little tricky to figure out. Tell you what. Come Sunday, and we’ll work through that together.

Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Michelle and Don.

Everyone welcome! [Yes, everyone is invited.]


Oct. 8 — Lessons from the vineyard

Scripture reading is Matthew 21:33-46 (NIV).

Once again, Jesus uses a parable to teach us. This time it’s the story of the wicked tenants. Like all of this parables, this one helps us to understand the importance of our making the best use of the gifts God has given us — from the blessing of his church to the glory of our salvation because of our Lord’s death and resurrection.

Come Sunday morning at 9 to hear more about these lessons from the vineyard. Then, stay afterwards for food and fellowship. This week, Kathy and Doug will prepare a light breakfast for all to enjoy.

Everyone welcome!


Sept. 17 — Cats never forgive

Scripture reading is Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV):

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times….”

These first two verses of our reading are the heart of this week’s message. The spin “Cats never forgive” is an idea borrowed from Father Paul Andrew, who serves a jail ministry in Virginia. Join us Sunday morning to hear “the rest of the story” — reference to a radio show of the same name that was hosted by legend Paul Harvey, whom National Public Radio called “a delightful history teacher — with a velvety voice that turned the news into narrative and entertainment each week on his famous segment The Rest of the Story.”

I can’t promise a velvety voice, but I trust the story will be worth coming to hear. Singing, praying and loving will be followed by a light breakfast provided by Miss Judy.

Everyone welcome!


Sept. 10 — Our debt of love

Paul speaks of debts in Romans 13:1-7, stressing that we must pay our debts and finishing with this: “7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Our focus in this week’s message moves beyond this, for in the next verse Paul makes this powerful transition, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another….” Our message this morning will deal with that debt, which can never be paid in full, which can never be absolved, which always is ours to cover.

Singing, praying and loving, will be followed by a light breakfast of fresh donuts and fruit.

Everyone welcome!


Sept. 3 — Losing life to save it

Worship begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. The message this week “Losing life to save it” seeks to make sense of the riddle Jesus shares in Matthew 16:24-26:
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Singing, praying, loving, and receiving communion will be followed by a light breakfast of fresh donuts and sweet watermelon.

Everyone welcome!


August 27 — Can you keep a secret?

Join us Sunday at 9 a.m. for worship!

This week the message focuses on Matthew 16:13-20, wherein Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responds that he is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Then, Jesus tells the disciples to keep this amazing news to themselves. Keep this a secret.

Why? Well, come Sunday to find out!

We’ll also have singing, praying, and fellowship, followed by a light breakfast of French toast and sausage. Yum!

Everyone welcome!


August 20 — Beyond the Eclipse: What path are you on?

Join us Sunday at 9 a.m. for worship!

Singing, praying, and the message this week, “Beyond the Eclipse: What path are you on?” Scripture reading is Joel 2:28-32 (New International Version).

Then, stay and enjoy a light breakfast and fellowship. Everyone welcome!

Until then, take a moment to watch the video below.


July 30 — Exploring our Beliefs: Affirmation 6

The beautiful hymn “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling” is among my favorites. It also fits wonderfully with the sixth affirmation, “the forgiveness of sins,” in our series “Exploring our beliefs: A Sermon Series on the Apostles’ Creed.”

This affirmation is one that Martin Luther believed was the most important in all the creed. Why? Well, come Sunday to find out.

Also, we’ll focus on how this affirmation deals with not only in our being forgiven by God but also in our forgiving others.

Our scripture reading this week is Psalm 130:3-4.

Join us for worship at 9 a.m. as we continue learning more about what we believe as Christians, as Methodists. Also, we welcome you to stay after for food and fellowship as we share a light breakfast with one another.



July 23 — Exploring our Beliefs: Affirmation 5

The fifth affirmation in our series “Exploring our beliefs: A Sermon Series on the Apostles’ Creed”:
I believe in the holy catholic ** church,
the communion of saints

This week we’ll consider what some Protestants find puzzling in their creed, the reference to “catholic church.” As many of you already know, though, that does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church or any other branch of the Catholic Church. We’ll cover what exactly it means and why it’s included.

The other line, “the communion of saints” shouldn’t be confusing, but we’ll try to put some meat on those bones so that everyone has a clearer understanding of this testament of faith.

Our scripture readings this week: Hebrews 12:1 and Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV).

Join us for worship as we continue learning more about just what we believe as Christians, as Methodists. Then, stay after for food and fellowship as we share a light breakfast with one another.



July 9 — Exploring our Beliefs: Affirmation 3

Our third affirmation of the Creed:

[He descended into hell.]
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

This passage is about the second half of what the Apostles’ Creed says of Jesus is the focus of my third message in “Exploring our beliefs: A sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed.”

Notice the sentence in brackets above. It’s in brackets because we don’t usually say this even though the original Apostles’ Creed includes it. Come Sunday, July 9, at 9 a.m. to hear about this sentence, why it was included in early versions, and why it was later dropped — especially in the Methodist Church.

Oh, and we’ll also cover what our church believes about the remaining statements in this affirmation.

Stay afterwards to join us for food and fellowship.

Our scripture reading for July 2, 2017, the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost:

John 14:1-3 (NRSV)

                  14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

 

July 2 — Exploring our Beliefs: Affirmation 2

Our second affirmation of the Creed:

[I believe] in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried

This passage is about half of what the Apostles’ Creed says of Jesus, and this is the focus of my second message in “Exploring our beliefs: A sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed.” We will consider the key points in this passage in an effort to better understand what we believe as Christians, as United Methodists, as a family of believers at Amazonia United Methodist Church.

Our scripture readings for July 2, 2017, the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost:

Leviticus 16:34

God said, 34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.

John 3:16

                  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Philippians 2:9-11

                  9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

June 25 — Exploring our Beliefs: Affirmation 1

Affirmation 1: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”

Scripture for Sunday:
Revelation 4:11 • New International Version
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

A dozen words launch The Apostles’ Creed. A dozen words begin our focus on what we Christians believe. Join us June 25 at 9 a.m. to see how the power of those 12 words makes all the difference in how we view the world and all that is in it.


June 18 — Exploring our Beliefs: A sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed

The message this Sunday will provide an overview of the Apostles’ Creed, offering some insight into where this creed came from and why it’s important for us to know it, to recite it, and to believe it.


June 11 — Linda Burgess to deliver “Sermon in Song”

While Pastor Ken is away at the Missouri Annual Conference of the Methodist Church, Linda Burgess will present her “Sermon in Song” at the 9 a.m. Sunday worship service.


June 4 — Pentecost Message: Fighting fire with fire

Want to get the skinny on Pentecost from a Methodist perspective? Click on the video below for a delightful message from Pastor Chuck.


Five-week sermon series: “Running on Empty”

  1. Filling up on Stillness • April 30
    Key Text:  Psalm 46:10
  2. Filling up with Rest • May 7
    Key Texts:  Philippians 4:4-7, John 15:9-12, Matthew 11:28-30
  3. Filling up with Pure Joy • May 14 Mother’s Day
    Key Text:  Deuteronomy 5:12-15
  4. Filling up with the Word • May 21
    Key Text:  Mark 1:15
  5. Filling up with Full Service • May 28
    Key Text:  Leviticus 23:22

Sunday Messages