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Archive for November, 2012

2012 Advent Daily Devotion Book

Here is a great resource for your spiritual journey preparing your faith and heart for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

$2.99 digital version exclusively on Kindle and paper back versions available for $9.99 at the Pastime Grill in Barnesville, GA or from the district office of the UMC in Griffin, GA.

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MT 6:25-34 “Commitment Sunday: Stewardship as Discipleship” JUMC 20121125

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [NRSV]

 

 

What would it take for you to give your spouse, child, or best friend $5000?

Q!: Is it a gift or a loan?

Q2: Trust that they had a good, meaningful purpose.

If it is a loan what are the terms and time

If it is a gift what expectation, the why questions.

 

What would it take for you to give the church $5000?

1.    The real significance questions are the evaluate what resources we have accesses to use.

2.    Hear the story, dream, need or vision that we can help bring to life.

3.    Do we believe the story, dream, need or vision is something we want to see live.

4.    Addressing the competitive requests for our resources, present and future.

5.    Our response is yes, no or maybe.

 

This commitment Sunday we are hoping for a yes, rather than a maybe or no.

  • What will it take for us to believe the story?
  • See the dream?
  • Feel the need?
  • And invest in the vision?

 

Here is the story:

  • Jesus Christ reach out to us through the cross and empty tomb to make a way to connect our lives with meaning, purpose and love.
  • When we join hands and heart with Christ, we become Christ’s body, present in the world, continuing the same work and witness.
  • Jackson United Methodist Church is one of those present access points of connection with Jesus Christ in Jackson and around the world.
  • Jackson UMC has a multi-generation reputation and witness of : (we are not new to this, but we are fragile.
  • Sharing meaningful worship with great music and rich traditions and expressions of faith in our worship.
  • For generations we have seen the needs of the poor in our community and around the world.
  • For generations we have supported fully and faithfully our United Methodist Connection.
  • For generations we have longed and hoped to raise children and grand-children and great-grands in the faith and fellowship of the church.
  • For generations we have gathered in this place to pray, play and study God’s word that is will give us life, hope and love and grace.
  • For generations we had men and women of faith and vision who have made contributions of the 3Ts (Time, Talent and Treasure) giving not just one or two, but all three at the same time that have prepared for the generations that followed.

 

Building the Nest

In God’s creation we look the birds of the field, they build a nest, not for their own benefit, but for the raising and care of the next generation. The nest of baby birds cannot do it for themselves. They must be fed, sheltered and trained by the parents and the parents before them.

 

What is at stake: If we are not building and fortifying the nest of faith, the next generation cannot and will not step up to the task.

 

What is the task:

The task is sharing with another human being the love the is experienced when you clothe a child that is cold and has no coat to wear in 30 degree weather.

 

The task is our calling, or spiritual vocation, the work our heart are compelled to do, when someone is hungry and we have food, we share. Food, Clothes, Medicines, and look for opportunities to work.

 

Our task is to build up disciples who are not CO-dependent, rather interdependent. (What is the difference? We need each other’s strengths because we each have our weaknesses, but we don’t make someone stay weak and forever only needed.  It is a maturing process of become disciples.

 

The stewardship questions are honest not about specific numbers, the stories we ask of each other today, and every time we gather to be the church are this:

 

1.    What is the need?  Need for Hospitality, Worship, Growth, Service/Mission, Giving

2.    What can God do through me? I am just one, but I am able (3Ts)

3.    What can God do through us?  Together, our connection is exponential

4.    What does it look like if we do part, all or nothing?  If we cut back who will not feed, teach, save?

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Joel 2:28 / Col 3.1 / Matt 6.33 “Is Generosity, More or Less? Extravant?” JUMC 201201118

Joel 2:28. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old mean shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (NRSV)

Colossians 3:1. Therefore if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand. (CEB)

Matthew 6:33. Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (CEB)

REVIEW of our STEWARDSHIP SERMONS:

  1. God does not want our money. God wants our hearts.  Q: Where is your heart?
  2. Our pledge card is a spiritual measurement tool. Q: Has Prayer Conditioned your tools?
  3. TODAY: What is your dream and vision of what God can do through us?

Consider now what you would like to see happen in your life in that same time. In what ways do your passions for the church align with your personal desires? Today I will share my passions for the church in this coming year.

THE LIST

Have you ever seen the movie The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Two terminally ill men develop a list of all the things they have always wanted to do. They face their task with a great sense of urgency. Today we will explore our bucket list for the church.

This week, I ask you to consider what you would most like to see happen in the church in the next year. When we deal with our own pledge cards we are making a mark toward what we would like to see happen next year.

  • LESS? Would you like for us to do less next year? Fewer services? Fewer touches of those lost, hungry or hurting? Fewer studies? Fewer children at Vacation Bible School?
  • SAME? Why not do exactly the same thing? Don’t expect growth, simply maintain and hold on with out intention or hope for more? God is content with holding fast our talents?
  • MORE? Why not look with the dreams and vision the prophet Joel speaks? Why not look ahead to where we are going and see who has won the race we are running? Why not measure with God’s possibilities? Would we like to do more? Reach another child or youth? Clothe another coat? Reach another searching heart? Invite another person to worship or dinner?

What kinds of church do you want our congregation to be:

Turn to your neighbors and tell them ONE thing you would like for us to be next year?

Know for being First? Rich? Big? Grumbling? Complaining?

CONGREGATIONAL FEEDBACK

Biblical Text:

Joel offers direction for us, as we consider our vision of the church. Vision comes about as God inspires people to prophesy, dream and have visions. What has God inspired you to envision for the coming year?

Colossians instructs us to set our hearts on things above. It is very difficult to focus our attention on God when we are distracted and overwhelmed by the cultural influences in our lives, but that is the call on our lives.

Matthew’s Gospel sets our personal and community priorities. Together in community, we help one another to seek God first in all things, to strive for righteousness, or right standing, with God.

These verses give us the starting place for understanding what God has called us to do and be as a church in the coming year.

One day I would love to serve as pastor of a church that was a county seat church, that loved to work as a United Methodist Church, where they people embraced that call to make disciples for Jesus Christ, through Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Risk Taking Mission and who had Generous people who allow their hearts to be Extravagant for God. WOW! The Bishop and DS do know how to answer my prayers!

A Pastor’s Dream Church:

I would like for us to have a 120 children participate in our VBS. I would like for us to send 60 youth in hands on mission work. I would like to increase the number of adult who share skills, talents and faith with our children. I dream of a church where member know our children need the wisdom and experience of all the adults and finding volunteers to work with children and youth never a problem.

I dream of time when the children and youth don’t have to fund raise the support for the ministries we want them to have that will shape the rest of their lives. The can fund raise through our church-wide mission. If the cost of our youth program is $15K and our children’s program is $10K we know the money will be their without question.

I would like to have fellowship, classes and studies for young adults, singles, parents, older-adults that reach EVERY member. Those who do know the support and joy of these small groups, be compelled to share this with those we are missing, (not by guilt, instead through joy)

I hope for our worship to be filled with music, voices, musicians that assure the passion of our worship is present every Sunday. I dream of a time that we don’t worry about two worship services, because we are starting our fourth worship service to reach four times as many people.

I dream of a time that we average feed 200 people on Wednesday night dinners over two dinner seatings and give more people that opportunity to provide meals and give a break to those who have served so faithfully, before we wear them out.

I hope for a time that we are know throughout our region as the church with the heart of Christ to share.

If you want to settle for what we can do to get-by with saving, I don’t think you will be happy at any church… that has kingdom first in their hearts..

Concluding:

Over the last few weeks we have considered what we love and value in our church, who has made a difference in our spiritual lives, and our best hopes and dreams for the next year. Next week we will each make a critical decision about how we will express and grow in our generosity.

Yes, we need our leaders to respond to this call. We need every member, friend and regular visitor to participate in this radical, passionate, intentional, risk-taking, and extravagant dreaming of our hearts.

When you receive the pledge card this week, please be in prayer and seek God’s direction for your expression of generosity toward the life and vision of God’s ministry through this church.

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1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Stewardship Measurements” JUMC 20121111

As we continue the journey toward extravagant generosity together we are growing in our idea and plans for living as stewards of the body of Christ.

This is an awesome work we share. Let’s start with a check-up. Find your heartbeat (demonstrate how to find your pulse). Did everyone find a pulse? Sometimes we need to use other tools and instruments help us know what’s going on the inside.

We evaluate and understand our condition based on numbers on the devices. Glucose, Creatin, Cholesterol, Pressure, rates and even weight give us signals of how to live and become more healthy.

If we checked our spiritual pulse, what would we find? How would we check our spiritual health? Studying our SETWARDSHIP we will find how the numbers point to our spiritual health.

Today we will consider how Paul begins to address the subject of spiritual health.

Biblical Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

While the idea richness has many meanings, the truth is that we in the United States are materially blessed when compared with the rest of the world’s population.

In 2009, when my 401k dropped along with everyone else, we started a campaign to fund retirement fund for retired ministers in 3rd-world countries. Each retiree would have a $200/year benefit. In most of the countries they would go from scraping together coins for food to being one of the most comfortable people in town. All while I was weary about loosing thousands from my excess.

Some of our lifestyle choices might not leave much margin, but the fact is, by most standards, we are extremely well off. It often seems that the more we have, the more we worry about keeping what we have and about getting more.

This is the first thing to measure: How much time and energy do we spend managing and worrying about money?

When that is the focus of our thoughts, expressing faith in God is more of a challenge.

Paul’s remedy is to put our faith in God. He suggests that we do good things, that we should be rich in good deeds, and that we be generous and willing to share.

Here is another measure: How many good deeds have you done this week? Taylor Moncrieff, Randy and Wanda’s daughter, so one of those appears from folks who had an ill child, she took them food because she empathized if her family was in a similar situation, she would hope someone like herself would care.. This a good deed rich in spirit!

Today I ask you to share two things we love about our church? Take 2 minutes. If you see someone alone get up and move over to them. [Name a few aloud]

Second, where we see Jesus in our church. Take 2 minutes to both tell and listen to at least one other person. [Name a few aloud after]

These are the ways we do good as a church and of how very rich we are in good deeds. Our budget is about 400,000 and our debt is over 600,000 and our unbudgeted mission around 100,000 and we have at least 100,000 in repairs unbudgeted. $1.2M

To be the Body of Christ calls for using our wealth for God instead of ourselves alone. God call us to do good works for the Boyd of Christ instead of for ourselves. When we give God our gifts and do God’s good work, we are blessed and our spirit grows, matures and knows joy, peace, power and grace.

Then Paul says that there is a difference between just living in our culture and living a Christian life—what Paul calls “truly living.”

Robert Schnase, author of the daily devotional Practicing Extravagant Generosity, recalls one spring when he saw various birds preparing to build their nests. He writes,

The notion of building nests is often used as a metaphor to describe people successfully providing for their own comforts. If someone arrives at a career position of some ease and security, friends say, “You’ve built yourself quite a nest for yourself here!” . . . The word nest often connotes shelter, coziness, homelike, comfortable.

In actual fact, the nests which birds build are not for the birds who build them, but for their young, for the next generation, for the future of the species. The hours of carrying straw, sticks, and mud; the days of defensive watchfulness; and the weeks of endless feeding are all for the benefit of the new ones, the young, the future.

Now consider “nests” we build in our churches. The buildings, programs, ministries, job descriptions, and services we build—are they for our own comfort and coziness? Or are they to further the faith and provide for future generations? Does our giving serve us and our needs or serve God by serving the mission of the church to reach new people? Vibrant, fruitful congregations focus as much energy, prayer, and planning on those who are outside the congregation as they do on those who are already active in the congregation. (pp. 14–15)

SO WHAT?

There is much to love about our church, and we don’t celebrate those things enough. I invite you to join this time of celebration in the next few weeks.

One thing you can do is prayerful receive a letter from our Stewardship Campaign Chair, Keith Fortson. He will be asking you to bring a measuring device, a pledge card, identifying a measure of your prayer, your faith and the fruit of your spiritual growth.

Come next week prepared to share and to celebrate.

If you don’t receive a pledge card during this week, let us know. We do not want to leave anyone out of this opportunity to grow in spirit. Amen.

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Matthew 6:24 “Extravagance” JUMC Stewardship 20121104

MT:6.24 No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

The 5 Core Practices of Making Disciples for the Transformation of the World
Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Spiritual Growth,
Risk-Taking mission and service, and EXTRAVAGENT GENEROSITY

Let’s start with a confession (it’s good for the soul, right?)

When we first heard that Extravagant Generosity is a core practice of The Methodist Way our thoughts are usually less than charitable. We just might be really ready to write the whole thing off. Is it an institutional gimmick to make raise more money? Plus, folks already have way too many assumptions, opinions and personal baggage when it comes to money.

• It is heart breaking to know people who will not darken the doors of the church because they think the church only wants their money.
• It turns our stomach to see how some misuse their faith to make themselves rich.
• What percent of our church time is spent on buildings, budgets and finances compared to time in ministry?
• Far too many congregations make decisions based on cash flow rather than faith and trust in God’s calling.
• Many people leave church over money issues and never come back into the fellowship.
• Individual families fight about money more often than any other issue.
That’s enough baggage for a three year world tour!

Wouldn’t it be great if we never spoke about money in Church again?
The Spirit reminds us that we would be unfaithful, and even harmful, especially given where and when we live.

Think honestly about our society: We live in an extraordinarily materialistic and consumerist society.
40% of Americans spend 110% of their annual income each year

Dave Ramsey Quote: We buy things we don’t even need with money we don’t even have to impress people we don’t even know.
We are immersed in a culture
• that feeds an appetite for more and bigger (Gluttony and Greed)
• that fosters the myth that self worth is found in having what others have (Envy)
• that furthers the lie that money and possessions equal security (Pride)

In short, rooting our life on the dreams and promises of easy money, material happiness and worth and value based in what we can grab leads to a society of communal slavery, an enslavement to several of the seven deadly sins.

This is not of God.
Jesus came that we would not be slaves to false teaching, sin, and fear.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Our culture exalts an unsustainable, suicidal system of gluttony, greed, envy, and pride. (We have seen this most clearly since 2009 since the housing and banking crash we have seen at every level of our society our short-sightedness and false trusts.) And honestly, we are only beginning to see the consequences.

So What in the World are we do HEAR when we say:
God’s practice of Extravagant Generosity is the answer.

Extravagant Generosity is a spiritual discipline
• Extravagant Generosity is not based on God’s demand for wealth, rather for as a sign of our trust in God’s work and plan.
• God doesn’t need money, instead God wants us to know that we don’t need to trust wealth more than we trust God.
• Extravagant Generosity is about our spiritual maturity that grows as we give. The more our Hearts experience giving the more God like we become.
• Extravagant Generosity is a set of spiritual disciplines given to us by God for our own good. They are classic disciplines:
For gluttony there is temperance and self control.
For greed there is charity and sacrifice.
For envy, patience and satisfaction.
For pride, humility and service.

Be Extravagant in self-control, sacrifice, patience, peace, humility and service and you will Become the Generous Person God’s desire we know.

Practicing the disciplines of Extravagant Generosity breaks the chains of our unsustainable, suicidal system.

In the weeks ahead you will receive two pledge cards. One for the operating costs of ministry for 2013 and one for the debt retirement that has made our facilities possible place to serve. In the mean time we can practice our GENEROSITY by completing the work we have begun in this year. We are significantly behind and need to finish this year in faithfulness…

Jump in and give like God gives.. and you will see God work and shine all around and through your gifts and living!

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