Oct 21, 2016

The Top Ten Signs You're Broke

Here are the top ten signs you are broke:
(Have a laugh before you fill out your pledge card!)

10. American Express calls and says: “Leave home without it!”
9. You’re formulating a plan to rob the food bank.
8. Long distance companies don’t call you to switch.
7. You rob Peter...and then rob Paul.
6. You finally clean your house, hoping to find change.
5. You think of a lottery ticket as an investment.
4. Your bologna has no first name.
3. Sally Struthers sends you food.
2. McDonalds supplies you with all your kitchen condiments.

And The Number #1 Sign You Are Broke Is:

1. At communion you go back for seconds (From The Daily Dilly).


Worship Series “Steps to Stewardship: The Gratitude Path”

Our Stewardship campaign title for the 2017 budget process is: “Steps to Stewardship: The Gratitude Path.” Dr. Kent Millard, the author of The Gratitude Path: Leading Your Church to Generosity, which our church will base our upcoming worship series on, will be with us on October 30, which is Loyalty Sunday.

The Sunday that Dr. Millard is with us and during our worship services, you and your household will be given an opportunity to dedicate your life and gifts to God for the coming year 2017. Your estimate of giving helps our finance committee set a conscientious budget for the coming year.

May God help us make this a cheerful and joyous month of worship for our great church family. May God also help us consider our gratitude before God.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Oct 14, 2016

All Hands on Deck

The early church believed that within each church body, they had the necessary elements to respond to a world full of need in the name of Jesus Christ. Today, however, in the age of specialization and specialists, many of us sit on the sidelines. We watch others fulfill our ministry for us. This “spectator mentality” has two primary, and unfortunate, outcomes.

The first is that for the handful of folks actually involved in the hands-on ministry of the church, there develops an undermining sense that, when verbalized and blurted out, says, “I have to do everything around here.” Certainly, no one intends to develop an attitude of resentment toward others. Yet the sin of resentment creeps up on us even when we try to respond to God’s love through the ministries of Christ’s church.
There is a theory called the “Pareto Principle” that states that 20% of the people in any organization do 80% of the work. In the realm of church stewardship, it is uncanny that on a consistent basis, in the giving patterns in all sorts of churches, 20% of church members give 80% of the money used for missions, operation, outreach, and in-reach. 
A second unfortunate outcome of having a mere handful of people participating in the life of the church and its ministries in this “spectator mentality” is that spectators may feel a momentary thrill of watching someone else’s victories, but this participation is shallow and fleeting. As fulfilling as it is watching someone else succeed, success doubles in enjoyment when we have a hand in it. The idea of participation was one of the early church’s most brilliant strategies. No one watched while others lived out their faith. Rather each participated in the faith and its outreach.

During the Middle Ages, when Popes, priests, or other minor clergy assumed the tasks of faithfulness for the laity, the overall strength of the church of Jesus Christ waned.  It was only during the Reformation, when Protestants took up the scriptures, read them for themselves in their native tongues, and felt called to pray for one another and for themselves without a priestly intercessor that the church began to refresh its spiritual strength and vitality.

We are stewards of God’s gifts because we want to walk the gratitude path!

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Oct 7, 2016

Love and Serve

“That is what the Son of Man has done: he came to serve, not be served (Matthew 20:28).
My friend, Rob Fuquay, who will be at our church next week for The Gathering, wrote the following to his congregation (St. Luke’s UMC, Indianapolis) this week:

David Brooks and Travis Smiley shared the stage at Clowes Hall, Butler University, for the inaugural Faith and Action event. The purpose of this program is to motivate and guide people to combat poverty. Brooks talked about the problems of social isolation and behavioral challenges behind much of our present ills. Smiley talked about the significance of practicing love and compassion and the real difficulty of being a just and equal society. They even delved into the controversial topic of kneeling during the national anthem.

But one line from the night stuck out to me. Smiley talked about the importance of leadership and how everyone is called to lead. He said, "You can't lead people without loving people, and you can't save people without serving people." Of course, he was unashamed about acknowledging his Christian faith for this ideal, but he also used it as a challenge particularly to the Christian community to live up to our beliefs and values. Another line, related to this thought was used by Brooks. I can't remember who he quoted, but someone was talking with him one time about all the programs created to combat poverty and help people get ahead. This person said to him, "Programs don't change people, relationships do."

I just think of the truths of these statements and the way I see them lived out before my eyes at St. Luke's. Our Getting Ahead program matches people looking to get out of poverty with people in our church. Through these relationships folks find encouragement, counsel, and support to get to a new place of freedom and hope. I watch our volunteers every Wednesday evening share in the English as a New Language classes. (I have to be careful here lest it sound like good church people helping needy people outside the church. These volunteers would point out that they are the ones receiving the blessing. It is simply people helping each other and they are in the church!)

The world gets changed, lives get changed, when we simply love and serve people. This is how we make an impact. How different would our world be if every Christian every day asked, "Lord Jesus, who do you want to love and serve through me today?"

PS. Don’t forget to pray for Children’s Sabbath on 9 October 2016.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 30, 2016

World Communion Sunday

Observed on the first Sunday in October, World Communion Sunday calls the Church to be the universal, inclusive Church. The day was first observed by Presbyterians in 1936, adopted by the Federal Council of Churches in 1940, and shortly thereafter observed in Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches. Perhaps, it is fitting on this week, when we celebrate the unity of the worldwide church, that we address one of the most important issues in our world today—or any day—forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the Bible’s substantial subject matters. For this reason, we address when considering World Communion Sunday. Realistically, we all know that the topic of forgiveness is one that begins long before the Christian faith developed in the New Testament. Indeed, in the Hebrew Bible, almost from the beginning of God’s relationship with God’s covenant people, the idea of forgiveness occupies a prominent place.

One memorable story recounts the haggling between Abraham and Yahweh over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18). In this account, Abraham sounds similar to an auctioneer. By asking for mercy on the evil city of Sodom, Abraham asks God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” To which the Lord answers, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” Abraham then barters with God as he might an open-market hawker of merchandise. In due course, the divine voice declares, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 

Forgiveness is the key element.  Genesis recounts that Yahweh cannot find ten righteous people. The chronicle concludes: “Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the Plain and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).

Perhaps forgiveness can pave the way to abundant life?

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 23, 2016

Noah’s Ark

In an article titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Noah’s Ark, I was amused, but also struck by how the elements on the list below help how we look at life. So, you decide which ones are worth pondering—and then ponder!

1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Don’t forget that we’re all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.
5. Don’t listen to critics, just get on with what has to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8. Two heads are better than one.
9. Speed isn’t always an advantage; the snails were on board with the cheetahs.
10. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
11. Remember that amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.
12. Remember that woodpeckers inside are a larger threat than the storm outside.
13. No matter the storm, when you’re with God, there’s a rainbow waiting.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 16, 2016


Perspective is a position or standpoint from which something is considered or evaluated. Or, we might say it is the place from which we observe or understand something. John Green wrote almost exactly four years ago about the perspective of being college educated:

When I was in college, I remember fearing that the dreary grind of adulthood would feature infinitely more existential dread than frat parties had, but the opposite has been true for me. I'm much less likely to feel that gnawing fear of aimlessness and nihilism than I used to be and that's partly because education gave me job opportunities, but it's mostly because education gave me perspective and context.

In a similar vein my friend, Tom Long, once wrote of this kind of perspective (a story related in Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops It). Long was in a grocery store and it is important to know that for Long, grocery shopping was nothing but a painful experience.

He was in a somewhat foul mood when he ran into a couple of people who were actually enjoying grocery shopping. It was a mother and her young son, and they had learned how to make a game out of grocery shopping. She would read him the first item on her list—paper towels, aluminum foil, whatever—and he would hear what she said, and race around the store until he found what she needed.

Then he would bring his trophy back to her shopping cart and place it inside. She would applaud him for what he had done, give him another item and off he would go. They were laughing and having a great time with it all. Well, you know how it is when you meet somebody going down a grocery store aisle—you’re going to meet them several times before you finish your shopping. It was about the third aisle over when it dawned on him that the little boy had a mental disability. The mother caught him staring at them.  He said, “I was just admiring your relationship with your son.”  “Yes,” she responded, “he is a gift from God.”

It is all a matter of perspective.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 9, 2016

Fall Kickoff: The Power of Community

Our First United Methodist Church Fall Kickoff will be this coming Sunday. It will include a cookout in the North parking lot, a live DJ, an ice cream truck, bounce houses, a Connection Fair, and fellowship for all.

Our very own Arlington Police Chief, Will Johnson, will speak in worship and we have made certain to invite law enforcement officers to come eat and mingle with our congregation. The Mission Team will have a booth to sign up for prayer partners with individual officers of the APD.

Being proactive to unite churches and communities is something that we should all strive to be a part of—especially in these days when tensions seem to run so high. Being upbeat and optimistic with respect to our communities is something that we can all do to add our little part to the harmony of the places where we live. This kind of attitude reminds me of a story I once read about President Abraham Lincoln.

During the War Between the States, a young teenage boy enlisted to be a soldier for the Union army. But he was not ready. He was much too young, and when the time came for his first encounter with the enemy, he became terrified and ran away. He was caught, arrested, judged guilty of desertion and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad.

His parents wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, pleading for mercy, pleading for a pardon for their young son. Touched by their letter, President Lincoln called for the facts and when he realized the situation, he overruled the death sentence and granted the teenager a full presidential pardon.

In his official statement explaining his action, Mr. Lincoln wrote these words: “Over the years . . . I have observed that it does not do a boy much good to shoot him!” (James Moore, When All Else Fails…Read the Instructions, Dimensions for Living, Nashville, 1993, p. 55).

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve

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