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The GRAVITY of Prayer

Gravity, the movieWarner Bros’ new film, GRAVITY, set a box-office record as the highest-grossing October release in history. The movie and its stars and director – especially Sandra Bullock, who plays an astronaut adrift in space — are being mentioned in a lot of conversations that have the word “Oscar” in them.

Other, more spiritual conversations have sprung up around the movie, too. The story of GRAVITY can be seen as the “rebirth” of Bullock’s character, who has given up on life prior to her ordeal, only to rediscover hope and faith through enduring it. One pivotal scene, when she believes she will not make it out alive, is particularly meaningful in this regard, especially for men and women of faith.

Let’s take a look at a clip from the movie (Click on the link to download the 102 MB movie clip):  Gravity

 This poignant moment raises three truths about the principles and power of prayer:

 1.    Prayer doesn’t really need to be taught

 

a.  It doesn’t require training, like being an astronaut. It doesn’t require a manual, like  flying a spacecraft. It simply requires a heart willing speak honestly to God.

 .

b.    Prayer is not an interview of God, or a speech to God, it is a conversation with God.  Listen for what He has to say back to you.

 

c.    Scripture – Philippians 4:6-7“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

2.     Prayer means we are never alone

 

a.    Even when we feel we are completely isolated, floating aimlessly through space, prayer is our lifeline to God.

 

b.    God hears and answers our prayers. Those answers might not always be what we expect, but they are what God knows is best for us.

 

c.    Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:6:  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

3.    Prayer changes things

 

a.    It’s not just about “getting things off our chest.” It’s not just about “pleading our case” to God. It’s about unleashing the power of heaven to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.

 

b.    No prayer is ever wasted.

 

c.     Scripture: — John 14:14:  “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Gravity, the movie 2

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Chuck Knows Church: Halloween

Trick or TreatThe Board of Discipleship series, “Chuck Knows Church,” continues with a short film concerning Halloween Week.

See film

Does Grace Make Us Lazy?

LazyThe Fall 2013 issue of Leadership Journal contains an interesting article by Tullian Tchividjian  addressing grace and our motivation.  (Tullian Tchividjian is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)

The gospel declares that, because of Christ’s finished work for us, we already have all of the justification, approval, security, love, worth, meaning, and rescue we long for and look for in a thousand different people and places smaller than Jesus.

The gospel announces that God doesn’t relate to us based on our feats for Jesus but Jesus’ feats for us.  Because Jesus came to secure for us what we could never secure for ourselves, life doesn’t have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, validate ourselves.

He came to rescue us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected.  The gospel announces that it’s not on me to ensure that the ultimate verdict on my life is pass and not fail.

This means we don’t have to transform the world in order to have our lives matter.  We don’t have to build a big church to secure our own worth.  We don’t have to be successful to justify our existence.  

Because Jesus was strong for you, you’re free to be weak.  Because Jesus was someone, you’re free to be no one.  Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary.  Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail.  Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose.

But hold on … wait a minute.

Doesn’t this unconditional declaration generate apathy?  Doesn’t it create an I-don’t-care posture toward life?  If Jesus paid it all, if it is truly finished, if my value, worth, security, freedom, justification, and so on is forever fixed, than why do anything?  Doesn’t grace undercut ambition?  Doesn’t the gospel weaken effort?

Understandable questions.

But the gospel actually empowers risk-taking effort and neighbor-embracing love.

The thing that prevents us from taking great risks is the fear that if we don’t succeed, we’ll lose out on something we need in order to be happy.  So we live life playing our cards close to the chest.  We do this relationally, vocationally, and spiritually.  We measure our investments carefully because we need a return.  We’re afraid to give because it might not work out and we need it to work out.

But, because everything we need in Christ we already possess, we can take great risks, push harder, go farther, and leave it all on the field without fear.  We can invest with reckless abandon because we don’t need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval.  We can invest freely and forcefully because we’ve been freely and forcefully invested in.

The fear of not knowing whether I’ll get a return is replaced by the freedom of knowing we already have everything.  Because I already possess everything in Christ, I’m now free to do everything for you without needing you to do anything for me.

I can now actively spend my life giving instead of taking, going to the back instead of getting to the front, sacrificing myself for others instead of sacrificing others for myself.  The gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.

When you don’t have anything to lose, you discover something wonderful: you’re free to take great risks without fear or reservation.  This is the difference between approaching all of life from salvation and approaching all of life for salvation; it’s the difference between approaching life from our acceptance, and not for our acceptance; from love not for love.

So, what are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?

Once your heart is gripped by the reality that you don’t need to do anything for Jesus, you’ll discover that you want to do everything for him.

This Time of Year

3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:3–7

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

          It is amazing that it is nearly that time of year when we watch and wait expectantly or perhaps with dread, to witness that first flake of snow.  We are headed for winter and the holidays will quickly be upon us. 

We wait for lots of things in this season, especially as the lines grow longer in the stores and malls. As followers of Christ, we must also be aware that we continue to receive and to watch and wait for, above all, the presence and hope of God, Jesus Christ. We pray for Christ to enter into the bedlam of our everyday lives and speak fresh words of hope into our battle weary hearts.  It can be difficult to understand how this can be when we all know that Christ is already with us, always.

          While I have started here with a reference to Christmas, I in no way want to skip or gloss over the importance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  While a primarily American tradition, this holiday has given Christians the opportunity we long for-a chance to steal the occasion away (or back) from our culture and claim it for Christ.  Often the focus is on overindulgences of food and football. A day to revel in eating, drinking and, now, thanks to Macy’s and other retail stores, shopping- all to excess.

          The original celebrants of the day were just happy to be alive.  As strangers in a strange land, the Pilgrims were at God’s (and the local Native American population’s) mercy for survival.  Much has been debated about what they ate and the political motivations for the meal. In the end, the day was established as a day to corporately give thanks to God for the gifts and blessings of life.  As Christians we celebrate this not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day and especially as we join as the body of Christ in worship together.

It is interesting that just about every year as we prepare for Advent I have encountered the historical debate about whether or not, when the Nativity set is put up in the church, the infant Jesus is “in” or “out” of the crèche.  A good case may be made for either option.  For many it is a matter of faith tradition or denomination.  It has been considered a traditionally Catholic “thing” to leave Jesus out of the manger until Christmas Eve and a likewise Protestant “thing” to leave the child there.  It really goes beyond all of that when we begin to look at the significance of the reason behind each choice.  You may have noticed that last year we did both.  Some nativity scenes featured the babe in the manger and others did not until Christmas Eve. This was not an attempt to appease one school of thought or the other, but an intentional choice to allow the experience of both to permeate and enliven our faith. 

The empty manger reminds us throughout the Advent season that we are waiting for Jesus to come to us again.  It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be waiting for something. In our post-modern culture this is not expected.  We want what we want and we are used to getting it quickly. We try imagining what it was like so long ago to wait expectantly for hope and light to enter in and save the world from chaos and darkness. Even so, this is not difficult to visualize when we take look around at what is happening in our lives, our families, our communities and our world.  We cry out in our souls for that final consummation of God’s Kingdom when all things will be made new.

At the same time, as the called out people of God who may receive redemption through Christ, we recognize the baby in the manger as the one who has already come and remains with us, even in the midst of the chaos and darkness that threatens to overwhelm us.  We face difficult struggles and our world cries out for words of hope from us as those who witness to the light which has come and is still to come.  Christians live daily in that tension. That is, the urgency of the Kingdom realized now and the “not yet” reality of God’s final reconciliation of the earth and all that is in it. The baby’s presence reminds us that we have already received God’s ultimate gift of love-God’s self. We must witness to this great hope and light received. Above all, we are reminded to be thankful. 

So now we have come full circle, beginning and ending with thankfulness.  As we enter this season of Thanksgiving and Advent, we may cry out to God, “Thank you for providing for our daily needs of food and shelter and for coming to be with us and save us.  We pray in all hopefulness and faith for you to hurry to us once more and to finally gather us to yourself!”

Come, let us worship together especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter into the exciting time of Advent and Christmastide.  Our Worship theme for Advent this year is:  Behold! Our Journey with Christ:  the “Advent”ure of a Lifetime.

I pray that you all ponder these things in your heart at this special time of the year and that the Lord’s favor is upon you as you give thanks for God’s many blessings of faith, home, family and friends.

Your Fellow Servant in Christ,

Pastor Heidi

Elder of Gospel for Asia-supported Believers Church Brutally Murdered While Praying

Debalal was a faithful servant, often giving his time to pray for the sick.

Debalal was a faithful servant, often giving his time to pray for the sick.

Debalal, 36, spent his last moments on earth praying for the man who would later kill him.

* Click on this Link for a short video report.

In the early morning of Sunday, October 20, Debalal, an elder of a GFA-supported Believers Church in Nepal, was called to the home of Kumar Sardar, 29, to pray for his healing.

Kumar’s wife had asked Debalal to pray for her husband who had been crying out with acute pain in his body. As Debalal prayed for Kumar with his eyes closed, Kumar left the room only to come back holding a sharp khukuri, a common Nepali knife with a curved edge that is much like a machete. Before Debalal could be made aware of the weapon, Kumar attacked him, slitting his throat. Debalal died at around 3 a.m.

News reports indicate Kumar is now in police custody.

“Opposition, persecution and martyrdom is part of the cost of following the Lord and bringing the Gospel to a desperately needy world,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “We are always heartbroken when we lose someone, but while we weep here on earth, there is rejoicing over those who came to know Jesus through this man.”

Kumar had been ill for some months and was improving gradually as Debalal prayed for him. Debalal lived around 30 minutes away from Kumar and often visited the sick man to offer comfort and to intercede on his behalf.

Debalal’s wife and two sons, 9 and 15 years old, are being taken care of by the local church during this time.

Debalal’s wife and two sons, 9 and 15 years old, are being taken care of by the local church during this time.

“Debalal was a faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Dr. Narayan Sharma, senior leader of our work in Nepal. “He was diligent in the Lord’s ministry and helped bring many into the Kingdom of God.”

Debalal served under the leadership of GFA-supported Believers Church pastor Tuhinsurra for many years as the elder of the church. He often visited those in his area and shared the love of Christ with them, faithfully praying for those who were ill.

Debalal leaves behind his wife and two sons, who are 9 and 15 years old.

Please pray for:

  • Debalal’s family as they grieve the loss of their husband and father.
  • All the believers to stand firm in their faith during such a grave situation.
  • Kumar Sardar, that he would repent and come to know the saving and redemptive love of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Kumar’s family, that they too would come to know the Lord through this circumstance and give their hearts to Him.

Link

Will You Join Billy Graham?

Billy Graham 1Billy Graham 4Your friends and neighbors need Jesus Christ. 

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is working with thousands of churches and Christians like you to share Jesus through personal relationships.

  • Will you join Billy Graham as he presents a powerful new message starting November 7th?

Download your free My Hope America materials and compelling programs or request the DVD today at MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org/Programs.

Billy Graham 2

Holy Hotlines

Holy Hotline

Chuck Knows Church: Baptism

Chuck Knows ChurchWhat is the meaning of the sacrament of baptism?

What’s best: sprinkled, dunked or poured?

Chuck will explain a little about this important ancient act and perhaps have a surprise along the way in this United Methodist Board of Discipleship series.  Tune in to this new episode here.

 


Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Christian HalloweenYes, but not like an unbeliever with dark and demonic symbols. Christians can truly celebrate believers who l1ave died, for we know that death has been swallowed up in victory(1 Cor. 15:54)

And, though our bodies die, our spirits dwell with Christ (Phil. 1:23) until he returns to earth to make all things new(2 Pet. 3:13) and to clothe us with glorious bodies (Phil. 3:20- 21).

What a message of hope! So, though we mourn the loss of our loved ones, we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope”(1 Thess. 4:13).

In light of the history of Halloween, here are some ideas for celebrating:

 

  •  Remembering Heroes of the Faith:

 

        Read stories about Christians who have demonstrated exceptional faith and courage. These stories inspire us to “live up to what we have already attainedin Christ (Phil. 3:16).

 

     Encourage children to dress up like a hero of the faith.  Costume choices can represent virtually every time period, every geographic area, and a wide variety of professions (even princesses and warriors).

 

  •  Remembering Our Loved Ones:

 

        The Reformation emphasized that all believers are saints and citizens of heaven (see Phil. 3:20); the destination of our loved ones who died in Christ is the same as that of the heroes of the faith.”  Remembering our loved ones connects our hearts to heaven in a more intimate way.

 

       Explore the Scriptures to learn what they teach about the afterlife.   Reflect on what your loved ones might be experiencing in heaven, and acknowledge your longing to be reunited under the perfect lordship of Jesus.

 

  •  Remembering the Lost:

 

          “There is a desperate need for light in our dark world, and the Bible says we are to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold firmly to the word of life” to those who are perishing (Philippians 2:15-16).

 

       Many aspects of Halloween are natural starting points for spiritual conversations:  Why do you think Halloween is such a dark’ holiday?”  Do you believe in ghosts?”  “Are you afraid of death?” Pray for opportunities to ask questions like these-that they may open a door to share the gospel!

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Suffering Hardships

SufferingAs you study today’s passage, keep this in mind: Truths and principles mean nothing to us if we are not honest and open with fellow believers.

This is the first important step—we must let others know our struggles.  And the wonderful result: healing for our soul and, if the Lord wills, for our physical ailments.

 It’s also significant to point out the essential role of prayer in the believer’s life.  While it’s important to share and talk through our issues, we must turn to God for real change to take place.

 

Interact with God’s Word:

James 5: 13-18:

  1. Underline words or phrases in today’s passage that leap out at you.  Why did these words or phrases seem particularly meaningful?

 

  1. According to verse 16, why is praying for each other so important?

 

 

  1. According to verse 16, what does it take for our prayers to have “great power and produce wonderful results”?  (For more insights into effective prayer, see also Mark 7: 24-29,  Mark 9: 21-26; Matt. 7: 7-11.)

 

  1. What action step could you take to apply a verse or verses from this passage to your life and/or small group?

 

Spend Time in Prayer:

Thank God for your Christian community and for men in your life who help you through difficult struggles; ask him to guide you as you listen to, respond to, and pray for your struggling brothers in Christ.

 

James 5:13-18:

The Power of Prayer

13 Are any of you suffering hardships?  You should pray. Are any of you happy?  You should sing praises.  14 Are any of you sick?  You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The Olive Mountain Traditional Bluegrass Gospel Band – Tomorrow Night!

Here’s a quick reminder – The Olive Mountain Band will be performing their traditional bluegrass gospel music tomorrow night at Central Church, beginning at 7 pm. 

The concert is FREE,  so grab three friends and “come on down” for an enjoyable evening of music!

Olive Mountain Band

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Not an Emotional Guy

Stoic ManKey Bible Verse:  I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.  Psalm 120:1

Dig Deeper:  Psalm 77

Joe was a tall and athletic man in his mid-50s.  He had grown up on the Sand Hills of western Nebraska and had been a cattle rancher all of his life.

When he came into my [counseling] office the first thing he said was, “I want you to know that I’m just not an emotional kind of guy.”  He went on to explain that some people, especially women, have a lot of emotions and some people don’t.  

He was convinced that he was someone who didn’t have or need many emotions.  That stoic philosophy had worked for most of his life.  However, when land prices fell and he found out that his wife had cancer, his emotion-free world began to crumble, and he discovered that he didn’t have the resources to deal with all of his newly discovered emotions.

Here’s the deal.  Some people are more aware of their emotions than others, but the experience of emotions isn’t optional.  

Regardless of gender, age, race, or socioeconomic level, emotions are an integral part of our standard equipment.  The only thing that’s optional is how we choose to express them.  I can’t always choose what I’m going to feel.  But I can choose how long I feel it.  With God’s help we can change our emotional pattern.

—Gary Oliver in Mad About Us

 

My Response: When it comes to how I respond to or deal with my emotions, one change I might need to make is …

 

Thought to Apply: There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.—Carl Jung (Swiss psychiatrist)

Adapted from Mad About Us (Bethany, 2007) by permission.

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

Double Your Pleasure…

Central - Second Choir Loft Monitor 1 - 10-3-2013Remember the jingle on the old Doublemint commercials, “Double your pleasure, double your fun…”?

Our choir members may be humming that tune this Sunday as they have their first experience with seeing videos in the Choir Loft during the worship service as well as simply hearing them.

After we successfully tested the monitor set-up yesterday, we received a donation of a second monitor this afternoon.  That monitor has now been configured and wired into our system, so now every member of the choir can easily see the videos on one of two monitors.

Now, we should be all set to move forward with our “video experiment” – as long as our choir members don’t try to tune in a football game when the worship service runs over!

 

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Our Painful Feelings

Painful FeelingsKey Bible Verse: For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.  Philippians 1:29

Dig Deeper:  Job 1;  James 5: 10-11

One harmful view of Christian experience says the Christian life is to be a pain-free zone.

As Christians, we must not only expect hand-to-hand combat with sin, but we must also know there is no exemption from suffering in this life.  

Suffering is not indicative of a lack of faith. Pain is not the direct result of our sins and failures.  Certainly all suffering and pain is ultimately rooted in sin, but the notion that my pain and suffering is a payback from God is unbiblical.  That is the theology of Job’s comforters.

A theology of Christian experience that says only blessing, health, and prosperity are the lot of the faithful is a recipe for emotional disaster with deep accompanying damage to faith.  Such teaching is void of the very gospel itself.

If we expect that “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before” we will be in for some serious disappointments. If we expect that victory over sin will be one uninterrupted triumph after another, we will become disillusioned with God, his Word, ourselves, or all of the above.

A sound theology of Christian experience makes room for the struggle of the war-faring pilgrim and the suffering of the wayfaring pilgrim.

—Brian Borgman in Feelings and Faith

 

My Response: Someone I admire for his or her ability to keep trusting God in the midst of great personal suffering is …

 

Thought to Apply: Can we follow the Savior far, who have no wound or scar?  —Amy Carmichael (Irish missionary)

Adapted from Feelings and Faith (Crossway, 2009)

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

United Methodists and Communion: Some Questions and Answers

CommunionWhy do United Methodists call this sharing of bread and cup by different names, such as Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and Eucharist?

Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings.

  • Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by him at his table whenever it takes place.
  • Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the church.
  • Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal.

By using different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the rich wealth of meanings in this sacred act. 

What do United Methodists mean when they call this act a sacrament?

Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe the sacraments, ordained by Christ, are symbols and pledges of the Christian’s profession and of God’s love toward us.  They are means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening [bringing to life], strengthening and confirming our faith in him. Two Sacraments are ordained by Christ our Lord, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

The term is taken from the Latin sacramentum, which was a Roman soldier’s pledge of allegiance.  A sacrament is God‘s pledge of allegiance [love and faithfulness] to us, and our answering pledge of allegiance to God.

Do United Methodists believe that the bread and wine physically or chemically change into Christ’s flesh and blood in this sacrament?

No, we believe that the change is spiritual.  They signify the body and blood of Christ for us, helping us to be Christ’s body in the world today, redeemed by Christ’s blood.

We pray over the bread and the cup that they may make us one with Christ, “one with each other, and one in service to all the world.”

I am a Christian, but not a United Methodist.  Am I invited to receive Communion in a United Methodist church?

Yes indeed.  It is the Lord’s Supper, not ours, and it is Christ who invites you.As our ritual puts it: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.”

We do not refuse any who present themselves desiring to receive.  Whether you should receive Communion with us is between you and God.

I do not wish to receive Communion because doing so would be disloyal to my religion or my denomination.  May I attend a United Methodist Communion service and not receive Communion?


Yes indeed.  We do not want anyone to feel unwelcome because, for whatever reason, they do not choose to receive Communion. Simply remain seated when others go forward, or pass the bread and cup along if they are passed to you, and no one will question what you do.

Should I receive Communion if I feel unworthy?

Two thousand years ago Jesus ate with sinners and those whom others scorned.  He still does.

None of us is worthy, except by God’s grace.  Thank God we don’t have to earn worth in God’s eyes by our goodness or our faith.  Your sacred worth, and ours, is God’s free gift. 

No matter what you have done or what your present condition, if you want Christ in your life you are welcome at his table.  Communion provides the opportunity for you to confess your sins, to receive forgiveness, and to indicate your intention to lead a new life.

May young children receive Communion?

Certainly.  As The United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup.” 

We remember that when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from him he said: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14 NRSV).

But do young children know what they are doing when they receive Communion?

Do they understand the full meaning of this holy sacrament?  No, and neither do any of us.  It is a wonderful mystery, and children can sense wonder and mystery.

Children cannot understand the full significance of family meals, but we feed them at our family tables and at Christ’s family table.  Young children experience being loved by being fed.  They sense the difference between being included and excluded at a family meal. 

They have the faith of a child, appropriate to their stage of development, which Jesus recognized and honored . Indeed, he said to adults: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15 NRSV).

May I receive Communion without standing or kneeling?

Certainly.  In some United Methodist congregations most persons receive Communion while standing, while in others most receive while kneeling; but you are always welcome to receive while seated.

If others are kneeling at the rail, you may remain standing and you will be served.  You may also come forward and be seated on the front row, or come forward in your wheelchair, and you will be served.  Or you may notify an usher, and someone will come to you and serve you where you are seated.

If someone in my family wishes to receive Communion but cannot come to the church service, can Communion be brought to them?

Certainly.  As an extension of the congregation’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Communion is brought to persons, wherever they are, who wish it but could not attend the service.  This can be done by the pastor or other clergy, or by designated laypersons.

Is Communion possible at weddings, at healing services, or at funerals or memorial services?

Yes. If you wish to arrange this, talk with your pastor.

– Excerpt from United Methodists and Communion: Some Questions & Answers by Hoyt L. Hickman.

  • Additional information concerning communion can be found in this video episode of “Chuck Knows Church“.

Let There Be…….Video!

Central - New Choir Loft Video Monitor 2 - 10-2-2013Our experiment with video in our worship service continues!

Now that the Choir is back in the Choir Loft after their well-deserved summer recess, we’ve had to move our new large screen from the Choir Loft to the South side of the front of the Sanctuary.  While that’s a good location for those sitting in the Sanctuary, our folks in the Choir Loft couldn’t see the screen.

That is, until Pastor Heidi donated an ultrasharp, 19″ flat panel monitor for the Choir.  After more than a week of crawling around in the catacombs-like crawl space under the Sanctuary, video feed and power lines have been extended into the Choir Loft and the new monitor has been positioned so our choir members can “get the picture” as well as hear the sound when we use videos in worship.

The new system was tested today – in case our neighbors are wondering why the half-time show from Slippery Rock University’s Marching Pride band was emanating from the Sanctuary.  (After all, we had to test it!)

Our thanks to Pastor Heidi for her generous donation, and to our Trustees for taking on the role of coal miners to put the necessary wiring in place!

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – When Emotions Mislead

When Emotions MisleadKey Bible Verse:  The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret; the coldhearted get the cold shoulder.  Proverbs 14:17, The Message

Dig Deeper: Proverbs 9: 7-9

Some years ago I made a presentation to a group to whom I was accountable for leading an organization.  I was asking authorization for something I wanted to do, and they said no.  

I did not respond well.  I became silent, probably sullen, and for the rest of the evening.  I spoke only when spoken to.  Even then my voice must have been edgy.  After the meeting, a friend steered me out the door and into a corner.  His words, I shall not forget.

“You know, your behavior in there was not very classy.  Those people were there to help you and to save you from making a bad mistake.  But if they learn that you don’t like hearing the word no on occasion, they’ll stop telling you what they think, and you’ll have to face the consequences all on your own.”

My friend’s rebuke prompted an examination of my own emotional reactions.  He was right, and I knew it.  

What I learned that night has stuck with me for years and years.  When I feel things going against me and feelings of anger or resentment begin to rise, it is time to stop and ask what is happening.  Is this for the greater good or not?  Is God speaking through this moment, or isn’t he?  I must not let my emotions mislead me.

—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life

 

My Response: What is my usual response when things don’t go my way?  How might Gordon’s two questions help me in the future?

 

Thought to Apply: Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.—Vincent Van Gogh (French painter)

Adapted from A Resilient Life (Thomas Nelson, 2005)

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Gaining Self-Control

Self-ControlKey Bible Verse:  A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.  Proverbs 25:28

Dig Deeper:   2 Timothy 1:7

Not only does God command certain emotions, but he also commands that we exercise self-control.

Self-control is about as popular as root canals.  However, there is a serious requirement for believers to exercise self-control.  

It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:23) and a gift of grace.  God straightforwardly expects us to exercise self-control.  (2 Peter 1:6).

What is it about self that we are to control?

We must control every aspect of our lives, especially our emotions.  As Spirit-filled believers, we are to be sober-minded, reasonable, sensible, exercising good judgment and prudence.  (Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 4:7).  The presumption is that our emotions are under the control of God’s Word and Spirit and sound mental judgment.  The Bible commands us to be in control of our emotions through Spirit-empowered self-control.  

But how do we obey these commands?  

Tthere are no seven easy steps.  When we stop believing the lies of the Devil—that certain aspects of our life will never change—when Scripture begins to infuse us with the hope, and when we start practicing the truth we believe, there is change.  Under the influence of the Word and Spirit, we really can begin to handle our emotions.

—Brian Borgman in Feelings and Faith

 

My Response: How have I bought into the lie that I can’t change my out-of-control emotions?

 

Thought to Apply: I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.—Aristotle (Greek philosopher)

Adapted from Feelings and Faith (Crossway, 2009)

The Olive Mountain Traditional Bluegrass Gospel Band – October 6!

Olive Mountain Band