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A Heart for Holiness – Traffic Flow

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Romans 7:19

Bonus Reading:  Romans 7:15-25

One morning I was driving alone to speak at a men’s Bible study, enjoying the uninterrupted flow of my private thoughts.

The thick traffic flowed steadily. As I slowed for a traffic light, I was relieved to see that I would make it through the intersection on the next green light. As I braked, the car next to me saw a “hairline crack” in front of me and, without warning, swerved over. I slammed on the brakes and checked the rearview mirror. So far so good. Anger swept over me but, since I was on my way to speak at a Bible study, I quickly recovered and kept my spiritual glow. I even forgave the bum for being such a spiritual degenerate.

The light turned green and the long line inched toward the intersection. Guess who was the last car to make it through the light? You guessed it! He made it, but I was stuck in line at the red light. That did it for me, Bible study or not! I let out an audible expletive that came from a part of me not surrendered to God.

If this were an isolated incident, then I wouldn’t be too concerned. But every day we each battle for control of our thought life. The real battlefield for the Christian is the mind.

—Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror

My Response: Am I chalking up any victories on this battlefield?

Thought to Apply: Sanctification is the mind coming more and more under the Holy Spirit’s control.—David Jackman (British pastor)

Adapted from The Man in the Mirror (Zondervan, 1989)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Displacement Dictum

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 77:11-12; 104:34; 119:48, 97

As you set out to rid your mind of years of impure thoughts, remember that merely trying to stop thinking bad thoughts won’t work. You must fill your mind with the crystal-clear Word of God. There is no alternative plan. We overcome the father of lies by choosing the truth!

Picture your polluted mind as a pot filled to the brim with stale black coffee. It’s dark and smelly. There’s no way to get the pollution of coffee out of the liquid. However, sitting beside the coffeepot is a huge bowl of clear ice cubes. Your goal is to purify the contents of the pot by adding ice cubes to it every day. I wish there were a way to dump all the cubes (words of the Bible) in at one time, but there isn’t. Every cube dilutes the mixture, though, making it a little purer. Since you can only put in one or two cubes a day, the process seems futile at first. But over the course of time, the liquid begins to look less and less polluted, and the taste and smell of coffee decreases.

The process will continue to work. But only if you don’t add more coffee grounds! If you read your Bible then look at pornography, you’re treading water at best.

—Neil Anderson in Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World

My Response: What am I displacing impure thoughts with?

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Fierce Fight

Impure ThoughtsWho Said It…Neil Anderson

Neil was raised on a Minnesota farm. After his Navy stint, he became an aerospace engineer. But then he switched to pastoral ministry for more than 20 years.

Neil next turned to teaching at Talbot School of Theology. He founded Freedom in Christ Ministries to equip churches to enable recovery from addictions.

Now retired in Carefree, Arizona, Neil works on his golf game and keeps on writing books about Christ-centered living.

What He Said…Fierce Fight

When I was a young Christian, I decided to clean up my mind. I had had a good upbringing, for which I am thankful, and had become a Christian in my twenties.

After four years in the Navy, however, my mind was polluted with a lot of junk. I had seen enough pornography aboard ship to plague me for years. Images would dance in my mind for months after one look. I hated it. I struggled every time I went to a place where pornography was available.

When I made the decision to clean up my mind, do you think the battle got easier or harder? It got harder, of course. Temptation isn’t much of a battle if you easily give in to it. It is fierce when you decide to stand against it.

Although you may despair, with all your steps backward, God won’t give up on you. Remember, your sins are already forgiven. This is a winnable battle, because you are alive in Christ and dead to sin, you can become all God has called you to be. The bigger war has already been won by Christ.

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

Give God Glory – Passionate Worship

Passionate WorshipMost of the psalms are prayer songs, and most include praise to God.

Praise expresses admiration, appreciation, and thanks to God, not only for what He does—His creation, His blessings, His forgiveness—but also for who He is—loving, just, faithful, forgiving, patient.

In Psalm 145, David anticipates a time when all people will join together in recognizing and worshiping God.

Interact with God’s Word:

Psalm 145:1-13

  1. If God blesses someone, His favor and protection assures that person’s well-being. But what does it mean (vv. 1-2) for you to bless God?
  2. Read verses 8 and 9 several times as an example from David of blessing God.
  3. How can you become one of the “faithful followers” (v. 10) who bless and praise God every day?
  4. Does the pace of your life leave room for meditation (v. 5)? Should it?
  5. In what ways is giving God glory a group exercise (vv. 4, 7, 11-12)?
  6. David assumes that every child of God will be talking about Him. List the verbs he uses to express this in verses 6-7 and 10-12.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Try just praising and blessing God in your own words.

Psalm 145:1-13

1 I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 I will bless you every day, and I will praise you forever. 3 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! His greatness is beyond discovery!

4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts. 5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. 6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.

7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy of your righteousness. 8 The LORD is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love. 9 The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

10 All of your works will thank you, LORD, and your faithful followers will bless you. 11 They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom; they will celebrate examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. 13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule generation after generation. The LORD is faithful in all he says; he is gracious in all he does.

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God.  Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Weekday Worship

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. Psalm 44:8

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 63:1-8

Would it seem odd to worship God in a checkout line, sitting in traffic, or waiting for your computer to boot up?

Our lives weren’t made to turn off and on between the spiritual and the worldly. There’s no time or place to which our worship of God should be restricted. So how could I begin?

  • Speak praise to God (sometimes out loud, sometimes not). In your own words tell the Lord you love Him and are glad to be His son. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Review His attributes. Personalize verses that come to mind.
  • Sing songs to the Lord. Ask God to bring a song to mind that expresses your love for Him. Don’t worry about the vocal quality. Concentrate on truly meaning the words, and stay focused on the Lord.
  • Don’t neglect the physical. Lift up your hands to God. Kneel before Him. Bow down in reverence. Or walk about, praising the Lord with every part of you.
  • Meditate on the Word. Mull over a line of Scripture and ask God to reveal Himself through this biblical concept.
  • Give quiet adoration. There are also times to simply sit before the Lord and, in awe-inspired adoration, feel the joy of His closeness.

—Patrick Kavanaugh in Raising Children to Adore God

My Response: A recurring time in my schedule I could earmark for worship is …

Thought to Apply: Singing is for believers. The relevant question is not “Do you have a voice?” but “Do you have a song?”—Donald Hustad (church musician)

Adapted from Raising Children to Adore God (Chosen, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God.  Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Hallelujah!

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for he issued his command, and they came into being.  – Psalm 148:5

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 148:1-14

We praise each other by saying something to one degree or another complimentary, with the implication that if someone’s generous deed turned out to be self-serving, a different response altogether would have been called for.

The way Psalm 148 describes it, praising God is about as measured as a volcanic eruption. There’s no implication that under any conceivable circumstances it could be anything other than what it is.

The whole of creation is in on the act—the sun and moon, the sea, fire and snow, Holstein cows and white-throated sparrows, old men in walkers and infants. Their praise isn’t chiefly a matter of saying anything, because most of creation doesn’t deal in words. Instead, the snow whirls, the fire roars, the Holstein bellows, the old man watches the moon rise. Their praise isn’t something that at their most complimentary they say, but something that at their truest they are.

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments, but by paying attention. Watch how the trees exult when the wind is in them. Mark the utter stillness of the great blue heron in the swamp. Listen to the rain. Learn how to say “Hallelujah” from the ones who say it right.

—Frederick Buechner in Beyond Words

My Response: I sensed God’s creation praising Him when …

Thought to Apply: Worship is the overflow of the heart that asks nothing of God.—Carl Armending (pastor)

Adapted from Beyond Words (NavPress, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Let’s Hear It!

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you.  – Psalm 51:15

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 145:1-13

I remember the first Promise Keepers conference held in a stadium. Twenty-two thousand men showed up. I was talking with my son when suddenly, from one side of the stands, I heard, “We love Jesus. Yes, we do. We love Jesus. How ’bout you?” I looked up in amazement. The other side of the stadium responded, only louder, “We love Jesus. Yes, we do. We love Jesus. How ’bout you?”

With each antiphonal response, the volume grew louder until it was almost deafening. Those 22,000 men were telling each other, God, and anybody within a mile radius that they loved Jesus! I’m quite sure that until that moment most of those men had never been so loud or enthusiastic about their love for Jesus. They hadn’t known it was appropriate for them to do that.

Telling God of our love isn’t just for crowded stadiums. Just as those men were unashamed to tell the world of their love for God as a group, so we need to tell our heavenly Father of our love as we pray individually. A fulfilling experience in prayer is hearing God say, “I love you,” and telling Him, “I love You too.” As simple as this sounds, our churches are filled with men unaware of the intimate side of prayer.

—Dale Schlafer in Fight on Your Knees

My Response: Right now, I’ll tell God how I feel about Him.

Thought to Apply: A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.—Augustine of Hippo (Fourth century bishop)

Adapted from Fight on Your Knees (NavPress, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – What True Worship Does

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: Not to us, O LORD, but to you goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.  – Psalm 115:1

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 89:8-18

Failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction. Without worship we live manipulated lives. We move in either frightened panic, alarmed by specters, or deluded lethargy, soothed by placebos. If there’s no center, there’s no circumference. People who don’t worship are swept into a vast restlessness, epidemic in the world, with no steady direction and no sustaining purpose.

  • True worship centers our attention. We begin to see Him—not our own ego—as the center of everything. We start thinking solely in reference to God and His agenda.
  • It gathers people together.  As we worship, we become part of a family. It’s an inclusive, not exclusive, activity.
  • It reveals truth. Familiar patterns of life suddenly expand to become new vistas of experience. We’re uplifted and renewed in mind and spirit.

  • It makes us sing. We can’t hold it back. Worshiping Christians are always singing. Indeed, Christians can sing even when others weep.

  • It affirms. We respond to God’s great promises with a resounding “Amen,” with thousands of voices united in saying “Yes!” to God.

—Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder

My Response: How has worship moved me beyond my personal agenda?

Thought to Apply: The life that is too busy for worship is busier than God intended it to be. While work exhausts, worship renews.—Stuart Holden (British pastor)

Adapted from Reversed Thunder (Harper & Row, 1988)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Chip Removal

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: I went into your sanctuary, O God … Then I realized how bitter I had become. Psalm 73:17, 21

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 73:13-26

I have often gone into church with a huge spiritual chip on my shoulder. I find things misspelled in the worship bulletin. Look at how little the man in the next row put in the offering plate; he ought to feel ashamed. The preacher should have studied more before coming out to preach.

Then the praise begins! Dumb songs! The choir mumbles. One choir member has over-dyed her hair. The alto soloist sounds too nasal.

More praise! And now, somehow, church doesn’t seem quite as dumb as it did when we first took our place in the pew. The more we sing, the better the over-dyed lady in the choir looks. Finally, she doesn’t look bad at all. Gradually the church seems better and all things offensive look better.

But why? Because we’re being changed. That’s what praise does to us. It scrapes away our negative spirits and replaces them with a smile and a better attitude.

There’s a sense in which we “fake it ’til we make it.” In practicing a happier mood, we somehow become happier people. It really is easier to praise ourselves into a new attitude, than to attitude ourselves into a new way of praise.

— Calvin Miller in Loving God Up Close

My Response: Next time I feel down, I’ll try the praise antidote.

Adapted from Loving God Up Close (Warner Faith, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – One Thing

African WorshipWho Said It…Tim Hughes

First encountering enthusiastic praise to God at age 11 led Tim, a Brit, to profess his own faith. Five years later, he attended one of the first annual festivals of Soul Survivor, soaking up a passion to reach his own generation for Christ through music.

At 18, Tim spent a year in South Africa working with kids and leading worship. Tim is now a Dove-award winning songwriter of songs like “Here I Am to Worship.”

What He Said…One Thing

The Prince of Peace congregation was gathering. Sweat poured down my face. Looking toward the front of the church, I saw no drums, amps, or keyboards—not even any microphones or speakers. How on earth were we going to worship?

Then a loud voice pierced the silence. Instantly all the people were on their feet singing their hearts out. Beautiful harmonies and melodies filled the air. Infectious joy and heartfelt adoration lit up their faces.

I was confused. This was the impoverished Inanda Township in Durban, South Africa, where aids is rife and suffering part of everyday life.  Surely their songs should be dirges!

But as the service progressed, the reason for their joy struck me. Although well aware of their present, they’d encountered Jesus and were wholly consumed with Him. Whatever life threw at them couldn’t rob them of the glorious riches of knowing God. They understood where they were going.

Worship, I learned that Sunday morning, isn’t about music.

It’s about Jesus.

Adapted from Here I Am to Worship (Regal, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Central Church's Congregation welcomes you!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

Central United Methodist ChurchCentral Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -10

 

Central United Methodist ChurchCentral Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -8Reasons why people don’t go to church?

What’s yours?

  • Tired? 
  • Worried? 
  • My family doesn’t want to go? 
  • What does church have for me?
  • Can’t get the kids ready on time?
  • I can make it on my own.  Church is for the weak minded.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”Luke 10:27, NIV

 

Central Church's Congregation welcomes you!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

Central United Methodist Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -1

 

 

Faith Handoff – Discipleship

DiscipleshipTimothy is the first second-generation Christian mentioned in the New Testament. His grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had probably heard Paul preach in Lystra during his first visit there.

They had become believers and faithfully influenced Timothy for the Lord. But his father apparently wasn’t a Christian. Paul stepped in to recruit Timothy as an aide, and also to act as his spiritual father.

Interact with God’s Word

2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:2

  1. How was Paul intentional about discipling Timothy (see Acts 16:1-5)?
  2. How had Timothy acquired his understanding of the “great truths” that he was to pass on (2:2a)?
  3. How was Timothy to evaluate and safeguard what he had learned from Paul (2:2a and 1:14)?
  4. How can you tell that Paul’s assignment to Timothy (in 2:2b) was to do individual mentoring?
  5. What kind of mentoring would produce learners able to pass their faith on?
  6. How would your church expand if every believer was winning someone else to faith and equipping him to pass on his faith?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to set spiritual multiplication in motion in your church. Ask Him to begin the process with you, turning you into a reproducing disciple.

2 Timothy 1:13-14

13 Hold on to the pattern of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14 With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.

2 Timothy 2:2

2 You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others.

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 - 9Reasons why you’ll like going back to church:

 

  • Church is how I got my life together
  • There is always room for one more person
  • They care about you, not your money
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • You won’t feel nervous; you’ll feel right at home
  • You can belong
  • Church is for everyone
  • Doubts are welcome
  • Everyone is welcome
  • It’s about a relationship
  • Grace is given to everyone
  • Forgiveness is offered
  • Hope is alive
  • A place where it is OK to not be OK.

 

 

Central United Methodist Church

Central Church's Congregation welcomes you!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -1

 

 

Faith Handoff – Incalculable Impact

MentoringKey Bible Verse: You imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you yourselves became an example. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Bonus Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

By recalling how Dave had mentored me, I resolved simply to model for other men what he’d demonstrated for me. I remembered that my unfinished assignments never bothered him. And it hadn’t been assignments that had begun to turn my life around anyway. It was the fact that Dave was there, ready to offer comfort and encouragement when needed, along with hope for a very frightened mentoring partner.

Dave helped me find the balance my life needed so desperately, provided much-needed insight for my struggling business, showed me how to climb out of a deep hole of debt, and stood by me as I met and then prepared to marry the woman of my dreams.

One of his goals, during that stage of my life, had been to bring me to a point where I was prepared to work with others. Most of all, Dave reflected the joy and fulfillment that comes from “giving your life away”—investing time, energy, and genuine care in another person.

As we met week by week, month after month, Dave was preparing me for a totally new stage in my life. Under his wing, I grew from a child to a peer, developing my own heart for mentoring others.

—David A. Stoddard in The Heart of Mentoring

My Response: Have I ever experienced the joy of “giving my life away”?

Thought to Apply: It is impossible to estimate the value of the moment when two lives intersect for the first time.—Michael Card (singer, songwriter)

Adapted from The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Central - Sanctuary - South 5-Lancet Stained Glass Window

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  – Proverbs 3: 4-6, NIV

 

 

 

 

Central United Methodist ChurchCentral Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -1

 

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -7I like church!

Invite your friends and family to find out why you like church.

Back to Church Sunday September 21, 2014.

 

Central ChurchCentral United Methodist Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -1

 

Faith Handoff – More than Lunch

Men at LunchKey Bible Verse: Then he selected twelve of them to be his regular companions. Mark 3:14

Bonus Reading:  Titus 2:1, 6-10

Greg, who taught high school, intentionally explored ways to invest in young lives. He even established a fund with which to take young men out to lunch. If you know male teenagers, you know they never turn down a free lunch!

But these meals weren’t merely to have casual conversation or establish friendships. Greg targeted certain young men in his class, invited them out for lunch, and then was intentional about providing accountability, direction, and insight into their questions, commitments, and decisions.

These kids so yearned for this depth of communication and relationship that they eagerly responded to Greg’s effort. But for this to happen, Greg needed to be intentional, to make a time (and financial) commitment, and to risk by going beneath the surface in a relationship with a young person.

The payoff was huge, however, as Greg became a spiritual guide to a generation of young men whose lives he pointed toward living in light of eternity. Greg has performed weddings, attended graduations and reunions, and stayed in contact with his protégés as they made an effort to keep him in the loop of their lives. He was their spiritual guide.

—Daniel Egeler in Shaping the Next Generation

My Response: How could I turn an acquaintance into an intentional growth opportunity?

Thought to Apply: Significance is making a difference in the lives of people over time.—Phil Downer (Discipleship Network of America president)

Adapted from Shaping the Next Generation (NavPress, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -6Are you letting the message go deeper? 

 

Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

 

 

Central Church's Congregation welcomes you!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -3

Faith Handoff – Case Study

Harvard Business School ClassKey Bible Verse: Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here.  – Acts 17:6

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 28:18-20

The Harvard Business School normally evaluates international corporations. But for the first time in its history, the school took a look at a church.

On the day that they discussed the case, Dr. Leonard Schlesinger began by turning to a student in the front row. Looking her in the eye, he asked, “Okay, what do you think of the one-sentence mission statement of Willow Creek Community Church?”

“Well,” she said, “they say they’re trying to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ.”

The popular professor shook his head… “No! No! No!'” he said vigorously. “I didn’t ask you what the mission statement was. I want to know what you think about it! What’s your visceral reaction? How do you feel about it?”

The young student was clearly flustered but said, “Uh, I don’t really come from a religious background. But when they say that they’re trying to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ, it sounds to me like they’re well … like they’re trying to turn atheists into missionaries!”

And then, collecting her thoughts, she added, “And frankly, sir, I see that as being one hell of a challenge!”

—James Emery White in You Can Experience … a Purposeful Life

My Response: I’ll ask God for His power to accomplish the otherwise impossible.

Thought to Apply: The only adequate answer [to an aggressively pagan world] is for Christians to recover the New Testament power of spiritual aggression.—Karl Barth

Adapted from You Can Experience … a Purposeful Life (Word, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

National Back to Church Sunday – September 21, 2014

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -5Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers!

“You’re Invited!” to Back to Church Sunday with me.

Won’t you come?

September 21, 2014!

Central Church's Congregation welcomes you!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

Central United Methodist Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

 

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -2

Faith Handoff – How Daws Told It

Navy MenKey Bible Verse: Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!  – Matthew 4:19

Bonus Reading:  John 1:40-42; Matthew 4:18-22

Twenty-three years ago, I took a born-again sailor and spent time with him, showing him how to reproduce spiritually after his kind. It took lots of time. I taught him how to study God’s Word and how to fill the quiver of his heart with the arrows of God’s Word, so that the Spirit of God could lift an arrow from his heart, place it to the bow of his lips, and pierce a heart for Christ.

He found a number of men on his ship who’d go to church with him, but none would go all out for the Lord. He came to me after a month of this and said, “Dawson, I can’t get any of these guys to get down to business.”

“Listen,” I told him, “You can’t have two until you have one. Ask God to give you one man after your own heart.”

He began to pray. One day he came to me and said, “I think I’ve found him.” He worked with this new believer, and those two fellows began to grow and spiritually reproduce. On that ship 125 men found the Savior before it was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Men off that first battleship are in four continents as missionaries today. It was necessary to make a start, however. The devil’s trick is to stop anything like this before it gets started.

—Dawson Trotman in Born to Reproduce

My Response: I’ll ask God to give me one man to disciple.

Thought to Apply: Men are not soul winners because of what they know, but because of Who they know, how well they know Him, and how much they long for others to know Him.—Dawson Trotman

Adapted from Born to Reproduce (NavPress, 1997)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

Who are You Going to Invite to National Back to Church Sunday?

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -1

It’s time to reach out and invite your neighbors to church!  People need to know that there is hope and a community of people like our church who will love them and do life with them.

Central United Methodist Church is joining the National Back to Church Sunday movement to help “Invite America Back to Church” on Sunday September 21.

According to Lifeway Resources, 82% of unchurched people would attend church if someone invited them!  Yet fewer than 2% of Christians ever invite an unchurched person to come to church!  Even if you have never tried inviting someone to church, we are going to make it easy this fall with a special service.

It’s not as hard as it may seem.  Did you know that most people who have dropped out of church haven’t lost their faith in God—they simply fell out of the habit of going to church?  Some moved, had a change in life circumstances, or had a falling out with their former church and simply drifted away.  Most often, life just became too busy.  This means many of them could be open to returning to church.

We encourage you to step out in faith and invite someone to rediscover church.  We are planning a special service on September 15th so that our new guests will feel welcome and comfortable. Inviting a friend is a simple gesture that could change someone’s life.

By participating in this national movement, we will be joining thousands of other churches across America in helping invite everyone to church.  Last year, 13,150 churches from 42 denominations participated and together they gave out an estimated 7.5 million invitations to church.  Our church is one of the 20,000 churches expected to participate this year.

This year, let’s reach out to our friends, family and neighbors with printed invitations, Facebook posts, and personal asks.  We have invitations in the Church Office for you to deliver to your friends and family.  You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to invite your friends and family to church with you.

Need some inspiration? Check out this promotional video for Back to Church Sunday: http://www.youtube.com/user/BTCsunday.

Central ChurchCentral United Methodist Church

6th Avenue & 13th Street

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

(724) 846-3474

Sunday School:  9:45 am

Worship:    11:00 am

Back to Church Sunday 2014 -3

Faith Handoff – A Matter of Principle

Navy ManKey Bible Verse: Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others. 2 Timothy 2:2

Bonus Reading:  2 Timothy 1:13-14

In 1933, Les Spencer was a young sailor aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia off the California coast. While washing dishes, he received a telegram: “Meet me at the San Pedro dock at 4 p.m. I’ll be wearing a dark coat, light trousers, and tan shoes. Dawson Trotman.”

Les didn’t recognize the name. But curious, he showed up at the dock. A man emerged from the crowd of Navy men, stuck out his hand, and made fast friends with the sailor. For the next three months, Dawson spent hours teaching Les about the Bible, evangelism, and follow-up.

Then one day Les brought his friend Gurney Harris to the Trotman house. He told Daws, “Give this man what you’ve been giving me.”

“No,” Dawson replied, “I’m not going to. You’re going to give this man what I’ve been giving to you.”

Les protested, “But I’ve never been to Bible school; I don’t know how. I can’t.”

Daws replied, “If you can’t give to Gurney what I’ve given to you, then I’ve failed.”  The founder of The Navigators believed in spiritual multiplication—that Christians shouldn’t just make disciples, they should reproduce disciples who are also disciplemakers.

Les accepted the challenge.

—Robert D. Foster in The Navigator

My Response: How open am I to the challenge of becoming a disciple maker?

Adapted from The Navigator (NavPress, 1983)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

Faith Handoff – Team that Couldn’t Lose

RelayRace Baton DropWho Said It…Greg Ogden

While serving as pastor of the Saratoga Federated Church in California, Greg developed a discipleship program—Discipleship Essentials (InterVarsity, 1998)—that has since been used by more than 15,000 people.

Greg has taught lay equipping and discipleship at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is now executive pastor of discipleship at Christ Church of Oak Brook in Illinois.

What He Said…Team that Couldn’t Lose

At the Olympic games in 1988 in Seoul, Korea, the American 4 x 100 relay team was poised to break the world record and assume its position as the best in the world. It had peerless athletes. The only question was whether it would crack the world record.

Yet as the final leg of the race approached, the unthinkable happened. The Americans dropped the baton. The crowd, electrified moments earlier, was left in stunned silence. The American team had arrogantly relied on its inherent speed and failed to sufficiently practice the handoff so crucial for completion of the race.

“Every Christian must see himself as the link to the next generation,” writes William Barclay. We need to practice the handoff. When all else fails, read the directions. It is not that Jesus’ way has been tried and found wanting; it has largely been talked about but not implemented. Return to small, reproducible, long-term relationships as the means of transmission of the gospel from one generation to the next.

Adapted from Transforming Discipleship (Inter-Varsity, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me become a disciple You can use to form and shape other disciples.

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Christ’s Triumphal Procession

Roman Triumphal ProcessionThe images Paul evokes in this passage are to us both exotic and familiar.

The exotic: a Roman victory parade, in which a long string of POWs and war booty were marched by the reviewing stand amidst a cloud of incense burned to the gods.

The familiar: a reference letter sent to others to introduce and commend a colleague.

Interact with God’s Word

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

  1. In light of 2:14, is seeing yourself as a free agent who volunteers time for Christian service an adequate understanding?
  2. Can you state as Paul did (2:14) that “wherever we go he [God] uses us”?
  3. Do the widely differing responses to witness that Paul encountered (2:15-16) match your own experience?
  4. How should your service be impacted by awareness (2:17b) that God has sent you? … that He’s watching you?
  5. Did Paul’s assertion (3:1-3) that the people he’d worked with were all the endorsement he needed mean that all their conduct was exemplary?
  6. Did Paul take the credit for lives being transformed (3:3b-5a)? Who did he credit?
  7. How did Paul’s statement in 3:5b answer his own question in 2:16b?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to give you power and confidence in service as you rely on His Spirit to make you successful.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17

14 But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing.

16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—who preach just to make money. We preach God’s message with sincerity and with Christ’s authority. And we know that the God who sent us is watching us.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5

1 Are we beginning again to tell you how good we are? Some people need to bring letters of recommendation with them or ask you to write letters of recommendation for them. 2 But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.

3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts. 4 We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5 It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God.

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you. — John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Going All Out

Chariots of FireKey Bible Verse: I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good.  – 2 Corinthians 12:15

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Eric Liddell won the 400-meter race in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, as featured in the movie Chariots of Fire. Afterward, he said that knowing he wasn’t expected to win, he went “all out.”

Along with developing his athletic skills, Eric shaped a servant’s heart, overcoming shyness to speak for the Glasgow Students Evangelistic Union both before and after his Olympic feat. He then served as a missionary in China. After Japan invaded and occupied China, Eric was among some 1,800 civilian “enemy nationals” forced into an internment camp at Weihsien.

Knowing the times were desperate, Eric went “all out,” as he’d done in the 400, to help others. He taught in the improvised school, organized and coached an athletic program that included rugby and basketball, planned and spoke at Sunday services, taught Bible classes, organized weeknight activities for teens, resolved bitter conflicts between fellow internees, and carried coal and water for the weak. “Uncle Eric” somehow found time to give many personal attention and care. For one girl, he made a beautiful notebook filled with drawings.

Having shaped a servant’s heart his whole life, Eric was mentally prepared to reach out with God’s love to those in great need.

—James Hilt in Wisconsin

My Response: What am I doing to shape a servant’s heart?

Thought to Apply: God is not looking for more stars; He’s looking for more servants.—Howard Hendricks

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Drive Away?

Car TroubleKey Bible Verse: “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”  – Matthew 25:40

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

Walking out of the packed mall, I prayed, “God, help me connect with people in ways that make a difference for Your kingdom.” As I neared my car in the lot, I noticed a pickup with a man working under the hood. “Not now!” I silently objected, “I’ll be late for my meeting.” “Can I help?” I asked, hoping he’d say no.

He said yes. I cranked the starter when he said to. Between cranks he said he’d done lots wrong but had worked with a Christian in his former job. Now unemployed, he was traveling to where he hoped a job was waiting. Learning that I was a Christian, he asked about Jesus’ forgiveness. Our discussion turned to the Bible. He would read it, he said, if he had a copy.

I helped him borrow tools from a nearby shop, talked through repair options with him, and kept cranking the starter till he got the engine running and the distributor adjusted. I offered to buy him dinner, but he didn’t have time. After he left to return the tools, I placed a note and money for a Bible or a meal on his steering wheel.

When I got home, my daughter asked, “Did you help a guy in a parking lot?” He’d called to thank me.

—Stephen Sorenson in Like Your Neighbor?

My Response: I’ll pray Stephen’s shopping-mall prayer today.

Thought to Apply: We must not spare our hand where it can perform a service [nor] assume that our schedule is our own to manage.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor)

Adapted from Like Your Neighbor? (InterVarsity, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Skill Position

Throwing a Football to a ChildKey Bible Verse: God has given to each of you … spiritual gifts … so that God’s generosity can flow through you.   – 1 Peter 4:10

Bonus Reading:  Mark 9:33-37

José Morena spends his workdays sweeping trash, wiping toilets, and scrubbing floors as a custodian at Lincoln Elementary School in Oxnard, California. Though he excels at his work, it isn’t what he’s known for at the school.

During recess, Morena’s a quarterback. With his ring of keys jangling from his belt loop, he throws spirals to pint-sized receivers. His presence on the field makes the friendly games more fun and prevents spats, according to the students. He does the same on the basketball court.

Morena also helps the teachers in the classroom. Because he’s bilingual, he can translate between teachers and parents. He also stands in for teachers when they have to leave their classrooms. Morena has two daughters of his own, but he also acts as a father figure to many students, particularly boys, who don’t have fathers at home.

The kids on the playground light up when asked about Morena: “José has always been there for me. He’s someone you can talk to, and he understands,” says ten-year-old Amber Castillo. He’s living proof that you don’t have to have an impressive job or powerful position to impact lives. Being important is about serving others, about being a role model for kids.

—Bill McCartney in 4th and Goal

My Response: Who am I uniquely positioned to serve today?

Thought to Apply: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.—Charles Dickens

Adapted from 4th and Goal (Tyndale, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Snow Job

Brushing Snow from CarKey Bible Verse: You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.  – Acts 20:35

Bonus Reading: Matthew 6:1-4

I had worked later than usual one winter evening and hadn’t noticed the steadily accumulating blanket of white. Walking out into our office parking lot, I was startled. Each of the handful of cars left in the lot looked like a huge white marshmallow. I located mine, started the engine, and climbed back out with brush and window scraper. The soft, fluffy coating came off so easily that I was almost disappointed to finish so quickly.

I looked around at the three other cars in the lot. One belonged to my friend Julie. I’d just said good-bye to her, and it looked like she was going to be working for quite a while yet. Clearing off her car was great fun. I pictured her coming outside, shocked at the amount of snow, worrying about trudging around in a dark, vacant parking lot—then seeing her car all cleared off and ready to go. Imagining her smile made me smile too. Cleaning off the other two cars was also fun.

A day or two later, Julie figured out who’d done it and expressed her appreciation. But Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1-4 tell me that perhaps clearing off the other two cars had the greater value.

—Nate Adams in The Home Team

My Response: How do I guess God will reward “undercover” good deeds?

Thought to Apply: The reward for a good deed is to have done it.—Proverb

Adapted from The Home Team (Revell, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

You Say… God Says…

You Say...God Says

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Biscuits in the ‘Hood

Pot on StoveKey Bible Verse: Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  – 1 John 3:18

Bonus Reading:  Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Each year, a few days before the holidays, members of the True Love Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, spend a Saturday morning gathering food for the needy in the neighborhood.

On this side of Dallas, there’s a lot of need. There are burglar bars on most of the windows, and the used car lots are surrounded by fences topped with razor wire. Even though the church is far from opulent, it puts aside its own needs to serve others less fortunate.

When I got to the church to produce a special radio documentary for the holiday season, the back door was wide open. No one was around, so I went inside. The only sound came from the kitchen in the family center where you could hear someone preparing breakfast for the volunteers who’d show up later. The smell of scrambled eggs, biscuits, grits, and bacon was incredible. I followed the aroma, carrying my tape recorder and microphone, and met a middle-aged woman with a cast-iron skillet in her hand. She never even looked up to ask who I was or what I wanted. She asked only one question: “Are you hungry?”

When the first thing a person says to you is “are you hungry?” that is a church.

—Jody Dean in Finding God in the Evening News

My Response: What action of mine has modeled Christ’s compassion?

Adapted from Finding God in the Evening News (Revell, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Into the Game

ChurchWho Said It…Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Its Willow Creek Association serves as a resource to thousands of churches that share an “outward-focused” emphasis, aiming to “turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bill is a sailing buff. He and Lynne are the parents of two adult children.

What He Said…Into the Game

Every churchgoer has a choice to make. He can either (a) park in his usual spot in the church parking lot, make his way to a favorite seat, experience a good service, chat with friends, and go home—a nice, safe Sunday morning experience. Or (b) throw himself into an adventure by rolling up his sleeves, joining a team of like-minded servants, and helping to build the local church God has called him to be a part of.

“Three years ago,” one person wrote, “you challenged me to get involved as a volunteer. I was hesitant at first, but you wouldn’t let up. Now I can’t thank you enough. The meaning I derive, the sense of ownership I feel, the friendships I have built, the spiritual growth I’ve experienced—it’s all directly related to finding my niche in serving.”

Most who commit to serving feel scared or think they have little to offer, but they decide to take a first step. Some serve faithfully in less-than-ideal situations before they discover what they’re really good at—the perfect volunteer niche for them.

Adapted from The Volunteer Revolution (Zondervan, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

A Bother…and a Joy – Energy and Rewards

Helping OthersThe verses we’re focusing in on are embedded in Jesus’ teaching about loving our enemies.

Of course, you can’t “fall into” this kind of love; it takes a conscious act of the will. But so does demonstrating love to others around us who are more neutral.

Today we look at the energy required for this kind of involvement—and the rewards promised.

Interact with God’s Word

Luke 6:30-34, 36, 38

  1. Being kind and thoughtful to your family and friends requires a fair amount of effort. Do Jesus’ words in verses 32-33 seem harsh?
  2. Does expecting you to extend your favors to those who are hostile or demanding (v. 30) seem reasonable?
  3. How does the “golden rule” (v. 31) move beyond the usual belief that you should avoid harming others?
  4. According to verse 36, does the requirement that you care for others in this way depend on whether they deserve it? What is it based on?
  5. Would you describe your level of caring and giving as a small or large measure (v. 38)?
  6. Have you experienced the payback for investing in others’ lives that Jesus described? Can you give an example?

Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God to expand your willingness to deliberately invest in others, and your joy in seeing fruit in their lives.

Luke 6:30-34, 36, 38

30 “Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do for others as you would like them to do for you. 32 Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that!

33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.

36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

38 If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Buckling by the Book

Baby on AirplaneKey Bible Verse: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 21:28-31a

Beat after two weeks of Calcutta’s filth and heat, Doug Nichols boarded the clean, air-conditioned Thai jumbo jet. His seat flanked an empty center section, where he anticipated stretching out after takeoff. But then workers streamed into the cabin carrying large baskets, and set one on each vacant seat. Babies! Two per basket. Close to 100 orphans for adoption, with only two Indian caretakers.

As they taxied, an alarmed flight attendant yelled excitedly in Thai at one uncomprehending caretaker. Grasping the problem, Doug reached across, fastened the belt over a basket, went to the next, buckled it … row after row. Securing the last basket, he jumped into his seat as the plane lifted off.

“You must really like babies!” exclaimed his seatmate.

“Not particularly.”

“Then why’d you do that?”

“I didn’t want to sin.”

“What’s buckling babies got to do with sin?”

“I’m a Christian,” said Doug, “and try to live the way God tells me. His Word says ‘Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.'”

“You sure that’s in the Bible?” he asked, skeptically.

“I sure hope so,” said Doug, opening his New Testament, pointing, and sharing the gospel with his seatmate all the way to Bangkok.

—Phil Callaway in Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward?

My Response: What would help me see and respond to needs more quickly?

Thought to Apply: We say we must do all we can. Jesus says we must let God do all we can.—Oswald Chambers

Adapted from Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward? (Harvest, 2002)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – High Fives

Sunday School TeacherKey Bible Verse: Who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:16

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

You’re a scoutmaster.  Surely you can handle fifth-grade Sunday schoolers.”  And that’s how Bill became a volunteer.

“I was a new Christian and was worried that I didn’t know enough. I started with an easy story—Noah. I knew I had to keep the boys busy. We researched the ark and built a scale papier-mâché model six feet long. We went to a lake to study how a flood affects an area. As I struggled with how to teach the Bible, the Holy Spirit taught those kids through me.”

The class asked Bill to move up with them when they went to sixth grade, and he was honored. Now that first class is grown; four of those boys are spending their lives in full-time Christian service.

There is no greater calling than teacher, no more important job in the church. But it’s easy to miss the “high fives from God” that every Sunday school teacher receives. “There’s no way I could have been that good a teacher,” Bill said. “The Lord knew I needed the encouragement of success at that early point in my Christian life, and He helped me. I’ve got a word for new teachers. Don’t be overwhelmed. With God’s help, you’ll never be inadequate.”

—Marlene LeFever, Cook Communications Ministries

My Response: A way I’d consider being stretched is by taking on _____.

Thought to Apply:  Significance is making a difference in the lives of people over time.—Phil Downer (Discipleship Network of America president)

Adapted from Christian Education Article Service (Cook, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Whom God Uses

Retirement Home WorshipKey Bible Verse: All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us.  – 2 Corinthians 4:5

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 25:31-40

[continued from yesterday]  When I left Carl, an aide asked if I’d visit Alex in his room. Alex’s body is permanently twisted from cerebral palsy. I remembered his efforts at previous services to sing the hymns and the joy that radiated from his disfigured face at hearing God’s Word.

As Alex struggled to shape his words, I tried to understand. We talked about the goodness of God. I happened to look up at the room’s two closet doors. One said ALEX, the other CARL. Then it dawned on me. Carl’s attendance at the worship service must have been the result of his being Alex’s roommate.

I told Alex that Carl had just prayed to receive Christ. Alex threw his head back and grinned from ear to ear, excited that God had used him.

That Sunday afternoon, Norma and I discovered that we don’t have to look far to bless someone else. All we need is to be willing to serve, and God will direct.

Through the requests of residents and with the backing of our church, Norma and I were given permission to conduct weekly Bible readings at the nursing home. I spent time with Carl, prayed with him, and watched as he faded from the effects of his stroke. Alex remains a faithful group member.

—Dave Pagani in Decision

My Response: Today, I’ll ask God to direct me to someone I can bless.

Thought to Apply: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.—Charles Dickens (English novelist)

Adapted from Decision (6/01, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Nixed Nap

Retirement Home WorshipKey Bible Verse:  Serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.”1 Peter 5:5

Bonus Reading:  Luke 14:7-14

As my wife, Norma, and I drove to church on a spring Sunday morning, I was just getting over jet lag from a long overseas trip. So I was anticipating a quiet, peaceful afternoon. But then I remembered that today was our church’s turn to hold the afternoon worship service at a local nursing home. I needed the rest, I kept telling myself; but as Norma and I talked, we decided we’d be at the nursing home.

After the service, we mingled and chatted with the residents. Carl, an 86-year-old who’d suffered a stroke, sat quietly in his wheelchair with his face lowered, his hymnal still in his lap. I went over to say hello. As he looked up, I saw distress on his face. So I asked, “Do you know if you’re on your way to heaven?”

“I hope so.”

“Would you like to know for sure?”

“Yes” he answered clearly and emphatically, “but no one’s ever told me how.”

I opened my Bible, read several verses, and told Carl how Jesus had willingly died on the cross to pay for all our sin. Carl prayed for forgiveness and surrendered to Jesus. An 86-year-old, tears rolling down his face, had joined God’s family as a newborn. [continued tomorrow]

—Dave Pagani in Decision

My Response: When did I last let another’s needs trump my convenient routine?

Thought to Apply: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving You.—JOHN WESLEY (founder of Methodism)

Adapted from Decision (6/01, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Whump!

Black JaguarKey Bible Verse:  Dear children, let us stop saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  – 1 John 3:18

Bonus Reading:  James 2:14-18

As Josh was sailing down a Chicago neighborhood street in his two-months-old, 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE, a brick sailed through the air and struck its shiny, black passenger door. Brakes slammed, gears ground into reverse, and tires spun the Jaguar back to the spot from which the missile had been launched.

The young executive jumped out, grabbed the kid, and pushed him against a fender. “That’s my new Jag,” he shouted. “That brick you threw is gonna cost you lots of money!”

“I’m sorry, mister! No one would stop! I didn’t know what else to do,” the youngster sobbed, pointing. “It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb, fell out of his wheelchair, and is hurt. He’s too heavy for me. Please, help me lift him back.”

Josh’s head of steam evaporated. Straining, he lifted the boy’s brother into the wheelchair, wiped the scrapes and cuts with his handkerchief, and checked to see that there was no serious injury. He then watched the younger brother push the wheelchair down the sidewalk toward their home.

Josh never did fix his door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone would have to throw a brick to get his attention.

—Skip Heitzig in Jesus Up Close

My Response: Someone I know whose actions reveal an urgent need for my help is _____.

Adapted from Jesus Up Close (Tyndale, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.