Sunday Messages

November 10 — 23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Ear tickling

Ear tickling. Yes, that’s the title of my message this Sunday. No, you don’t need to see a doctor about this, but you certainly need to be concerned by it. Ear tickling actually involves the false prophets that Jesus talks about in Luke 21:8, the phony preachers who tickle the ears of their audiences, telling them what they want to hear rather than what they should hear.

Some people focus on Jesus’ reference to end times in the passage from Luke this week, but the more important message is that we must always be prepared, that we must take every opportunity to learn more about our Lord and follow the Great Commission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast prepared by Sharon and Tim, followed by fellowship and adult conversation.

Everyone is welcome!


November 10 — 22nd Sunday after Pentecost: Let us praise him

We’re focused this week on another Psalm, this time #145. This one is David’s Psalm of Praise, and it’s a dandy. No question what David has in mind here. He’s intent on praising God in all the ways he can for as long as he can.

This certainly is the model we must follow, and if we do, then we will be blessed beyond measure. David says that God will fulfill the desires of all who fear him. He will watch over them and save them.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, don’t you think? Give all our praise to God and receive abundantly in return.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Judy. Afterwards is Sunday School for children and conversation and fellowship for adults.

All are welcome.


November 3 — 21st Sunday after Pentecost: Saving the lost

Our focus this week is again on a tax collector, this time Zaccheaus. And again this week, Jesus’ message is clear: this man may have been a sinner, but he has repented and he is saved.

My message, “Saving the lost,” picks up on Zaccheaus’ story and reminds us that even though we are sinners, Jesus has come to save us, too. That we will be sharing the joy of Communion this week makes this message even more immediate and more special.

Join us at 9 a.m. for worship, singing, praying, and communion. Then, stay for a light breakfast followed by Sunday School for children and fellowship and conversation for adults

All are welcome!


 October 27 — 20th Sunday after Pentecost: Just where do you stand?

This week’s message is titled “Just where do you stand?” and focuses on Luke 18:9-14. This is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, which basically is about a God who does not play favorites for a people who do.

Where do you stand is a question that expects you to position yourself with one or the other, the Pharisee or the tax collector.

One is an arrogant boaster. He’s not a bad man. In fact, according to the Jewish law that he follows to the letter, he is righteous, upright, virtuous, worthy. The problem is that he wants everyone to know that. He doesn’t pray; he performs for an audience. He lacks humility, and he lacks a heart open to God’s love.

The other is a tax collector. No, not just an IRS agent, but a real shyster. Tax collectors in Israel then strong-armed citizens for the taxes they owed both Rome and King Herod, plus whatever else they could squeeze out of them. That extra squeeze is what they kept, giving them a pretty good living. So, this guy, who actually is a Jew, is hated by his fellows. Yet, he comes to the Temple and hangs off to the side, head bowed, eyes downcast, beating his chest and praying, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Come Sunday and hear the rest of the message. No, there won’t be any surprises. Just reinforcing what you know about where you should be standing in your prayers to God.

Then, stay for a light breakfast presented by Janet and Ken. Following that is Sunday School for children and fellowship and conversation for adults.

Everyone welcome!


 October 20 — 19th Sunday after Pentecost: Never, never, never, never, never give up

My message this Sunday is “Never, never, never, never, never give up.” I know. Sounds odd, but it’s a quote from Winston Churchill who was speaking to the people of England during the darkest days of WW II. The beauty of it is that his message still rings true for all of us today.

The scripture this week is Luke 18:1-8. It’s the story of the persistent widow. You remember. She’s the one who kept pestering this judge to grant her justice from someone who had wronged her. He put her off and put her off, but she just kept coming back. That’s where the connection with Churchill comes in. The judge finally granted her request. Jesus used this parable to make clear to his disciples (and us) that they should always pray and not give up.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay for a light breakfast, followed by Sunday School for children and fellowship/conversation for adults.

Everyone is welcome!


October 13 — 18th Sunday after Pentecost: Only one

Only one. That’s the title of my message this week. It comes from the story in Luke 17 where the 10 lepers were healed and only one came back and thanked Jesus. Only one.

How often in your life have you forgotten to thank Jesus? Think of the blessing you just received. Did you pause to be thankful for it — no matter where it came from? It’s all too easy to be blessed and, like the nine healed lepers who went on their way, forget to be thankful. Whether to God or to neighbor, our lives are better and we are even greater blessed when we are thankful Christians.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay for a light breakfast presented by Janet and Ken. Following that, we’ll have Sunday School for children and fellowship and conversation for adults.

Everyone is welcome!


October 6 — 17th Sunday after Pentecost: Beyond God’s grace

It’s comforting to think that once we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, all is good. No more worries. We’ve arrived. However, before you get too comfy and self-satisfied that you now own a seat in heaven, let me tell you that accepting Jesus is only the beginning of our way of salvation.

We are works in progress that God continues to fashion and shape to become the people we need to be, the people he wants us to be. It’s not only avoiding sin that leads us to holiness but also the good we do in improving the lives of others and bringing them to Jesus.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message “Beyond God’s grace.” Share Holy Communion with us during worship. Then, stay for a light breakfast presented by Michelle and Don. Afterwards, we’ll have children’s Sunday School and adult conversation and fellowship.

All are welcome!


September 29 — 16th Sunday after Pentecost: God’s grace

Sunday’s message is titled “God’s grace,” the first of a two-part focus on this most wonderful — and undeserved — gift from God. This week we will consider the three types of grace that God offers us on our “way of salvation”: prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace. Each is designed to help us on our journey, a journey that involves our becoming and our growing as Christians — both of which are ongoing throughout our lives.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay for a light breakfast followed by Sunday School for children and fellowship for adults.

All are welcome!


September 15 — 14th Sunday after Pentecost: Back to school: Starting the year off right

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6 and John 14:26
 
Worship at 9 and light breakfast, prepared by Judy, and children’s Sunday School immediately following.
 
Everybody is welcome!


September 8  — 13th Sunday after Pentecost: Do we really need Jesus?

Do we really need Jesus? That seems an odd question to ask those who claim to be a Christian, but it’s as relevant for them as for the most ardent non-believer.

So often we tend to just tootle along, taking care of business but otherwise just merrily passing the time of day. We come to church — on most Sundays, at least — and we spend an hour or so dealing with the ritual of worship, with singing and praying and listening to still another sermon.

But do we really need Jesus in our lives? Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the answer to that oh-so-important question. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Judy and Jim. Afterwards, we’ll have adult fellowship and conversation and children’s Sunday School.

All are welcome!


August 25 — 11th Sunday after Pentecost: Summer in the Psalms — The Valley

We finish our series Summer in the Psalms this week with Psalm 23, one of the most cherished chapters in the bible.

For centuries this Old Testament song has brought comfort and hope to Christians around the world. Its message is as powerful today as it was when David first wrote it in the Fifth century BC.

That it is focused on the Lord as a shepherd who makes sure that his flock is cared for and fed is something that we can still appreciate. God provides his comfort and protection even as we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and are confronted by our enemies.

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, presented by Kathy and Doug. Following that we will have children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.

All are welcome!


August 18 — 10th Sunday after Pentecost: Summer in the Psalms — Psalm of the Cross

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
 
Few, if any, are unaware that this was the plaintive cry of Jesus from the cross. It also is the opening verse of Psalm 22, our focus for this Sunday’s Summer in the Psalms.
 
This Psalm is one of the 65 Lament Psalms, the largest single group among the 150 in the Old Testament. It certainly is significant because our Lord cited it from the cross. However, its significance is particularly powerful for us today because the speaker is clearly in the depths of despair. He seems certainly unable to handle any more loss or heartache. And, suddenly, he is lifted up and buoyed by God.
 
However, that respite is short-lived. Too soon he is confronted again by misfortune and danger. Again, God lifts him up.
 
This happens three times, and we become aware that as many times as he is thrust into the depths, God will reach down and rescue him
 
That’s the message for us today.
 
Come Sunday to hear the rest of this message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, presented by Ashley. Following that is Sunday School for children and conversation and fellowship for adults.
 
Everyone is welcome!

July 28 — Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Summer in the Psalms — A song of repentance

We continue our sermon series “Summer in the Psalms” with one of the 15 “Songs of Ascent,” Psalm 130. These were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they walked up the road to Jerusalem for one of their annual festivals.

Today, we lift up this psalm as a prayer of repentance with the memorable opening line, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice.” Thus begins a four-part prayer that takes us from our lowly sinful state and recognizes that God is our only hope for salvation because he loves us as his children.

Come Sunday at 9 to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, prepared by Janet and Ken. Following that we will have children’s Sunday School and adult fellowship and conversation.

Everyone is welcome!


July 21 — Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: Summer in the Psalms — A psalm for giving grateful praise


We continue this week with our series “Summer in the Psalms.”

The subtitle of Psalm 100 is “A psalm for giving grateful praise.” Many experts believe David wrote it after leading Israel’s army to attack and conquer the Philistine army and recapture the Ark of the Covenant. So, he and all Israelites are dancing for joy and praising God for this victory.

Essentially, the psalm is a pretty reliable manual for praising God in any circumstance, offering seven points for us to consider:

  1. Shout to the Lord
  2. Worship the Lord
  3. Come before the Lord
  4. Know that the Lord is God
  5. Enter the Lord’s gates
  6. Give thanks to the Lord
  7. Praise the Lord

Come Sunday at 9 a.m. as the message fleshes out these points and helps all of us to better practice giving grateful praise to our Lord.

Then, stay for a light breakfast, prepared by Kathy and Doug, followed by children’s Sunday School and adult conversation and fellowship.

Everyone is welcome!


July 14 — Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Summer in the Psalms — Prayer of protection

No matter where we are and what is going on in our lives, none of us are very far removed from the need for protection, for solace, for shelter. That’s why Psalm 91 is so important, why it has been a “prayer of protection” for the Hebrews, early Christians, and followers of our Lord today.

The opening is memorable:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
It’s a passage whose familiarity is as comforting as the promises that it delivers.

This “Prayer of Protection” psalm launches our six-part summer sermon series “Summer in the Psalms.

Come Sunday and hear the rest of the message at 9 a.m. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, presented by Pastor Ken and Janet. Following that is Sunday School for children and adult conversation.

Everyone is welcome!


July 7 — Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Service of the Table

Join us Sunday for a Service of the Table at 9 a.m. This will be the Great Thanksgiving and Communion, along with a couple of hymns. This Sunday is special for me because it is the first Sunday at which I will be blessing the elements as a new licensed local pastor.

Following worship, stay for a light breakfast presented by Janet and Ken, followed by an Administrative Council Meeting at which we need to make plans for our new roof and other church improvements and discuss local mission activities for the coming year.

Everyone is welcome!


June 30 — Third Sunday after Pentecost: Anything less than 100 percent just won’t cut it

There’s a great verse in this week’s lectionary, Luke 9:62. It reads, Jesus said, “Anyone who begins to plow a field but keeps looking back is of no use in the kingdom of God.”

I realize it’s not always wise (or appropriate) to cherry pick verses from the Bible. However, this selection is so meaningful and clear that I decided to take my chances. Besides, around here, there are at least a few folks who understand the plowing image — how you must keep your eyes forward if you hope to plow a straight furrow. Looking back runs the risk to moving off course.

So, you say, what of it? Well, the point Jesus is making is that we Christians must be willing to commit 100 percent in following him. Nothing less will do.

So, come Sunday morning at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of my message, “Anything less than 100 percent just won’t cut it.” Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast presented by Kathy and Doug. Wife Janet still won’t be able to make it to church (her knee surgery) to lead Sunday School, so adults and children will enjoy fellowship.

Everyone is welcome!


June 16 — First Sunday after Pentecost: Memories of Pop

We’re celebrating Father’s Day! In fact, we’ll be recognizing all men for the contributions they have made to their own families as well as their church family.

My Message is titled “Memories of Pop.” Yes, I’ll be sharing some personal memories of my father, but I’ll also tie in our scripture reading for the day, Genesis 18:19 (NIV) and lift up Dads at Amazonia UMC.

Join us at 9 a.m. for worship. Following that, we’ll have a light breakfast, presented by Sharon and Tim. Then, Sunday School for the children and adult conversation.

Everyone is welcome!

May 12 — Fourth Sunday of Easter: Supermom
 
We’re celebrating Mom on Sunday. In fact, we’re recognizing all women for their special contributions to their own families and to our church family.
My message is titled “Supermom.” Scripture is Proverbs 31:10-12, 15-20, 25-31.
Join us for worship at 9 a.m. followed by a light breakfast, prepared by Sharon and Tim. Then, adults are welcome to visit while children head off to Sunday School.
All are welcome!

 

May 5 — Third Sunday of Easter: Blinded by the light

So, have you ever been blinded by a light? It is certainly startling and can be dangerous in some situations.

Just ask Saul (who became Paul) about that. As we know, he was on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus when he was blinded by a light. It forced him to the ground, and it left him blind. Can you imagine being in that situation? One moment you are on a mission — convinced that your persecution of Christians is a God-supported action. The next moment, Jesus is addressing you, asking why you are persecuting HIM?

That’s the setting for Sunday’s sermon “Blinded by the light.” Join us at 9 a.m. for worship and communion (all are welcome to partake). Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, followed by adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


April 28 — Second Sunday of Easter: We are Easter people
 

“We are Easter people” is the title of my message on this Second Sunday of Easter. How so?

Well, we believe in our risen Savior, that because he died and rose, our sins are forgiven. Yet, our Christian duty certainly doesn’t stop there. No. We are called to love one another and to witness to our risen Savior. We are called to be ministers, continuing the work begun by our Lord and then passed on to his disciples, to his Church.

Today, just as it has been for more than two centuries, we continue to be called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of my message. Afterwards, stay for a light breakfast of an Easter ham and egg casserole, prepared by yours truly. Then, adults can share fellowship while children go to Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome!


April 21 — Easter: Lessons from the empty tomb

When Sunday comes, the tomb will be empty. Yet, that emptiness speaks volumes and can teach us so much – if we but take time to pay attention.

It took time for the disciples to learn the lessons from the empty tomb. In our scripture on Sunday, Peter saw the tomb, empty but for some strips of linen, and walked away wondering what had happened. Clueless initially, but eventually enlightened.

We needn’t walk away from the empty tomb this Easter, wondering what happened. Come Sunday at 9 a.m. and hear the message, “Lessons from the empty tomb.”

Then, stay for some yummy donuts before you hurry home to prepare and enjoy Easter dinner with family and friends.

Everyone welcome!


April 7 — Fifth Sunday of Lent: Eyes on the prize
“Eyes on the prize” is the focus for my message Sunday.
Most of you are familiar with this phrase from Paul in Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” It’s one of my favorite from Paul, and it’s one that all of us must embrace as we travel our Christian journey.
 
There are times when all of us question what we need to be doing to serve our Lord and to live the Christian life. Well, Paul says that if we are to win the prize of heaven, then we must press onward toward the goal.
 
Which goal is that? Service.
• Service in our churches.
• Service in our communities.
• Service that speaks to our love of Jesus and his children.
• Service that must be part of our everyday lives.
• Service that doesn’t end at a certain age.
• Service that defines who we are. Christians!
 
Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of this message and join us in Communion.
 
Then, stay for a light (sweet) breakfast presented by Janet and Ken — followed by Children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.
 
Everyone is welcome!

March 31 — Fourth Sunday of Lent: The other brother

The message this Sunday is “The other brother.” It focuses on Luke 15:28-32, the last part of the parable of the Prodigal Son. So often the emphasis in this story is on the younger son, the one who leaves, squanders his inheritance, and then returns to the loving embrace of his father.

However, this time we’re going to consider the elder son, the one who stayed behind working and obeying his father. However, he also is the son who became angry when his father welcomed his brother back, jealous at the big feast, love, and attention he was getting.

Come Sunday and hear more about how we must take care that we don’t become like the other brother. Stay for a light breakfast by Sharon and Tim. Then, we’ll have adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

Everyone welcome!


March 24 — Third Sunday of Lent: You got this, kinda

Many of us tend to be pretty nonchalant with the parable of the barren fig tree. After all, what do we care if they cut down a tree that’s not bearing fruit?

Well, we need to care because like all of Jesus’ parables, the value of this story really has nothing to do with orchards or fig trees. It has everything to do with each and every one of us. We are the tree, and the fruit we bear are good works and leading others to know Jesus. And the gardener, of course, is God

All well and good, you might say, but Jesus offers fair warning at the beginning of this parable. He says, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Come Sunday to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Kathy and Doug. After that, we’ll have children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.

Everyone welcome!


March 17 — Second Sunday of Lent: Puttin’ on the Ritz


I have this wonderful memory of a Fred Astaire movie in which he is dancing in top hat, tails, and cane and singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Classy look and classy locale. The Ritz, of course, always referred to accommodations that were high class, luxurious, and glamorous.

All well and good, but for some reason when I read the scripture for today, wherein Luke tells of the transfiguration of our Lord: “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”

For some reason, it just reminded me of that Fred Astaire routine. Not that Jesus would be singing and dancing but that he would have an appearance that was high class and glamorous.

Bottom line, our takeaway from this Jesus experience is that God used this experience to give the disciples and us a greater understanding of who Jesus was.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay for biscuits and gravy, prepared by Ken and Janet. Following that will be adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

Everyone is welcome.


March 10 — First Sunday of Lent: How tempting!

I am confident that we will be in worship this Sunday! The forecast says rain — maybe quite a bit of rain — but still, only rain. That really makes me excited given that we did not worship at Amazonia for the past two weeks. Gathering will be like seeing old friends after an extended time apart.

The message this week is “How tempting!” It plays off of Luke 4:1-13, the passage describing Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan. I suppose some of us wonder why on earth our Lord would even allow himself to be tempted in the first place. Yet, I suspect he is doing it for us, modeling how he knows Satan will come a-calling and try to lure us to turn from God and follow him. Oh, seldom are temptations clearly connected to the devil. Most often they are dressed up to look innocent and altogether inviting, yet they are temptations and they do originate with Satan. He’s not named the Tempter for nothing.

Come this week to hear the rest of the message. We know temptation is out there. It’s not a matter of when we will be tempted. Only a matter of how we will be tempted and how we will respond. I’ll offer a few suggestions on how we might resist temptation. 

We’ll have communion this week — postponed from last Sunday — and after worship we’ll have yummy donuts, juice, and coffee — all fresh, NOT postponed from last week. We’ll also have adult conversation and children’s Sunday School. 

Everyone is welcome!


March 3 — Eighth Sunday after Epiphany: The Golden Rule made holy

Since weather forced cancellation of worship on March 3, here’s a Facebook Live Short Service, only about 22 minutes long.


Feb. 24 — Seventh Sunday after Epiphany: An attitude of gratitude

Since weather forced cancellation of worship on Feb. 24, here’s a Facebook Live Short Service, only about 20 minutes long.


Feb. 17 — Sixth Sunday after Epiphany: Follow me

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. ~Luke 5:10-11
 
The message this Sunday is “Follow me.” At least one source suggests that this phrase is found 70 times in the bible. That’s a lot of invitations, don’t you think? Yet, there’s good reason for so many occasions when we are invited to follow Jesus.
 
For one, he invites us to follow him so that our sins — all of our sins — might be forgiven.
 
For another, he invites us to follow him, accepting his leadership as our Lord and Savior, so we might enjoy life with him in heaven forever.
 
Finally, he invites us to follow him so that we might lead others to him, following the Great Commission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
 
Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay to enjoy a light breakfast, presented this week by Pastor Ken and Janet. Afterwards, children can go to Sunday School while adults can share conversation in Fellowship Hall.
 

All are invited!


Feb. 3 — Fourth Sunday after Epiphany: All you need is love

“All You Need Is Love,” released in 1967, is one of the Beatles’ best love songs. Its lyrics suggest that you can do anything, which is wonderfully empowering. At the same time, though, it is a call to responsibility, because if we can do anything, we must always consider stepping up and being the best we can be.

This focus on love, of course, comes from our scripture this week, 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, 13, wherein Paul makes it quite clear that of the three theological virtues — faith, hope, and love — love is the most important. However, as a college freshman back in 1967, I tended to read from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet when I talked about love. Interestingly, both Paul and Gibran strike similar chords in their respective messages, and both would agree with the Beatles that all you need is love.

It is so fitting that this is Communion Sunday because this sacrament is the most wonderful expression of love ever.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Michelle and Don. Afterwards, we’ll have children’s Sunday School and Adult conversation.

All are welcome.


January 27 — Third Sunday after Epiphany: We are the champions

The message this Sunday is “We are the champions.” Yes, we’re going to hear that great 2002 song from Queen during the service. It’s really one of my favorite songs and always perks me right up.

So, how does that song tie in with the scripture passage we’re focusing on this week? That’s from Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, and details his metaphor of the human body as Christ’s church. Surely, most of you are familiar with that image, and we could simply cover how each of us is a part of our church just as each of our appendages is part of our body. But I felt we needed to go beyond that metaphor and embrace the idea that not only are we part of Christ’s church but that, indeed, we are champions.

Come Sunday at 9 to hear the rest of this message (and that great song, too). Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast, prepared by Kathy and Doug. Following that, we’ll have children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.

All are welcome!


January 20 — Second Sunday after Epiphany: Some holy hocus-pocus

Our scripture this week is the account of the Wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine — his first miracle.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between magic and miracles? I have little doubt there are some nonbelievers who might believe that Jesus actually turned water into wine but who are more likely to call it magic — some holy hocus-pocus, perhaps.

Well, come Sunday to hear the rest of the message and see if you don’t leave with a better appreciation or what happened at that wedding — aside from the fact that the wedding party ended up with what must have been some of the best wine ever.

Join us at 9 a.m. for worship, and then stay for a light breakfast, prepared by Judy. Afterwards, we’ll have children’s Sunday School and adult conversation.

Everyone is welcome!


January 13 — First Sunday after Epiphany: Getting into the picture

The scripture this Sunday is from Luke 3 where John the Baptist baptizes our Lord. It’s a powerful moment in the Bible, when Jesus begins his public life — commending the work of John the Baptist and reinforcing John’s message of repentance. Importantly, this moment is the only one in the bible where we witness the Triune God, with the Father and the Spirit present to support Jesus and affirm his mission on earth.

Come Sunday to hear the rest of the message at 9 a.m. A ceremony of baptismal reaffirmation will be part of our worship experience. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Judy, followed by adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

All are welcome!


January 6 — Epiphany: In search of … the Magi

Leonard Nimoy hosted 144 episodes of “In Search of” from 1977 to 1982. His goal was to give us insights into and understanding of the paranormal, mysteries, historical figures, strange events, and so on. The series never explored the Magi, so that’s our goal in this Epiphany message — to learn a bit more about the visit of these three very familiar characters.

Join us Sunday morning to hear the rest of this message, “In search of the Magi,” and see why wise men (and women) still seek him. Then, stay for a light breakfast prepared by Sharon and Tim — followed by adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

All are welcome!


December 30 — First Sunday after Christmas: It is well

Hello! How do you do? How are you?
 
Those are among a number of common greetings we use when we encounter others, but one that may not be among those you use today is “How goes it with your soul?” That phrase is one used by John Wesley and early Methodists, usually when greeting one another in their weekly class meetings.
 
One man who spoke to how it went with his soul was Horatio Spafford. The Chicago attorney lost a fortune in the Great Chicago Fire, lost his son to scarlet fever, and then lost his four daughters when their ship sank. Yet, he still penned the most powerful witness to faith in the face of adversity with the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.”
 
For us, there will always be storms to face, and sometimes there will be tragedies. But with faith in a loving God and with trust in his divine help, we can confidently say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
 
Come Sunday at 9 a.m. to hear the rest of the message “It is well” at our last worship service of 2018. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast prepared by Roy and take part in adult conversation and children’s Sunday School.

December 16 — Third Sunday of Advent: Joy is our true home

“To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” ~Mark Twain

That’s some good advice from our fellow Missourian, Mark Twain, and it fits my message for Sunday, “Joy is our true home.” As we head into the home stretch of Advent moving closer and closer to Christmas, we need to embrace joy as one of the more powerful emotions of the season, and we need to look for opportunities to share joy in order to get the most from it.

So, come join us Sunday at 9 to hear the rest of the message. Then, stay afterwards for a light breakfast by Kathy and Doug, followed by adult conversation and Sunday School for children.

Everyone is welcome!


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