Can’t or Won’t?

Hope is essential to a healthy life. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is the breaking of the morning dawn dispelling the dark of night. Hope is the fuel that powers us through difficult times. Hope sustains when there is very little to hang on to.

However, one of the great enemies of hope is a small but destructive word: “Can’t”; one small but destructive phrase: “I can not”! Chuck Swindoll in his book: “Wisdom For The Way” writes: “Can’t and won’t. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. It seems that we prefer to use “can’t.”

“I just can’t get along with my wife.”
“My husband and I can’t communicate.”
“I just can’t discipline the kids as I should.”
“I just can’t give up the affair I’m having.”
“I can’t stop overeating.”
“I can’t find time to pray.”

Any Christian who takes the Bible seriously will have to agree the word here really should be “won’t”. Why? Because we have been given the power, the ability to overcome. . . . We’re really saying “I won’t,” because we don’t choose to say “With the help of God, I will!” (p.21)

The Psalmist helps us remember that God is a God of new life, and new beginnings. Paul reminds us: all things are possible in Christ Jesus; and, hope will not disappoint us. Indeed, one of the strands that hold the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation is Hope.

The writers of the Psalms encourage us to embrace the hope that is ours in our God. The Psalmist proclaims that God: “Turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Ps 30:11)  Embracing hope, God renews and re-orients life! May God’s blessings abound as we allow ourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit, filled with hope!
In Christ,

Doug

Where’ s God When It Hurts

The Psalmists wrote often of their disappointment in God in the midst of their struggles, discouragement, and suffering. Some write with out-right anger and hostility that God would “forget” them. Others write about the anguish in trying to find their way in a world where God seems absent; and so it is in the 21st century.

We encounter our own struggles, agony, pain, and suffering in life; and like our brothers and sisters of ancient Israel we ask: “Where’s God?” Philip Yancey in his book, “Where is God When it Hurts?” writes:

“Much of the suffering on our planet has come about because of two principles that God built into creation: a physical world that runs according to consistent natural laws, and human freedom. . . . Where is God when it hurts? He is in us – not in the things that hurt – helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.” (p.65 and 111)

God is not a God who brings suffering our way as some cosmic test of faith and obedience, nor is God a God who delights in our suffering, waiting for God’s children to cry out for help. Where’s God when it Hurts? God is present, actively seeking ways to help turn our attention to God, seek God’s strength, and live in God’s hope; as Paul puts it, “hope will not disappoint us.” Jesus puts it this way: “ Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:3)

Where’s God when it hurts? God is present in the community of faith that reaches out to bring healing and hope to the broken, disenfranchised, and distressed. Philip Yancey writes, “I believe God has given the church a mandate of representing his love to a suffering world. We usually think of the problem of pain as a question we ask of God, but it is also a question He asks of us. How do we respond to hurting people?” (p.10) As the community of faith partners with God we participate with God in healing a broken world.

I look forward to the days (years) ahead, sharing in ministry with you, as together we partner with God to bring healing and wholeness where pain and suffering overwhelm and distort the lives of God’s children!

In Christ,
Doug

Psalms: Rx for Life

What is your favorite psalm? Most people find strength in the psalms and find them to be comforting. They help us put words to the human condition, giving us strength and courage for the twists and turns of life.

This week we begin our sermon series with the message “When Life Makes Sense.” Dr. Walter Brueggemann, a delightful biblical scholar, reflects on the psalms based on an individual’s orientation, or how one sees the world in her/his present state.

As you prepare your heart for worship this Sunday, come with a heart that is open to receive what God has to offer: strength for the weary, hope for the discouraged, and grace and restoration for all of us who stand before God in our brokenness. May God richly bless you this week!
Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Getting Ready For Rally Day 2014

I hope everyone is having a great summer! Are you ready for Rally Day 2014 on Sunday, September 7? Traditionally at HPCUMC it’s the first Sunday after Labor Day that the church gets back into full swing. Let’s think of it as going back to “faith school” after summer break. I hope everyone is as excited about Rally Day as I am, and I do get excited about Rally Day!

In particular I want to speak about our Ministry of Education. As we gear up for the new season, the focus of our children, youth and adult ministries is on spiritual formation or faith development. Another synonym might be spiritual growth, discipleship or a big word like sanctification.

In Christian spiritual formation the focus is on Jesus. It is a lifelong process as a believer desires to become a mature disciple of Jesus and become more like him. Dallas Willard writes that “spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.”
Galatians 4:19 speaks to the importance of forming one’s life toward the likeness of Christ … “until Christ is formed in you.”
Romans 8:27-29 further shows us that the shaping (“forming”) function of God’s divine Holy Spirit is carried out according to the will of God the Father, for the purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son – Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:1-2 encourages every believer to present themselves to the Lord as an act of spiritual worship and not to be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are not bystanders in the spiritual formation of our lives. We are to be active participants with God, who is ever inviting us into a deeper relationship. Spiritual formation is both a process and a journey. It requires a commitment of each one of us who has put their trust or faith alone in Jesus Christ to allow the work of God’s Holy Spirit to transform their life.

There are many opportunities for your spiritual formation here at HPCUMC. I encourage you in the “faith school year” to join a connect group, a Sunday school class, or participate in a mid-week book or Bible study. Hope you are looking to grow in your faith through study, prayer and being in relationship with others who are on the journey with you.
Rally Day is the beginning of something new. It is always great to get back to “faith school” in the life of the church. And it’s never too late to learn, grow and experience transformation as we mature in our faith. Make it a priority! Sign up for a class! May the Holy Spirit convict your heart to go to the next level of your own spiritual formation or faith development!

Are you getting excited about Rally Day 2014? I am!
In Christ’s love,

Dave Weaver

Staff Updates/Celebrating our Ministry to Children and Youth

Our full staff meets twice a month, first and third Wednesdays.  We have chosen to step out in mission on “Fifth Wednesdays.”  This week we served lunch to people at the Center for Respite Care, one of our mission partners.  Their ministry offers a place for persons without a residence to recover after a major hospital stay.

One man once told me after a powerful concert of a large youth choir:  “We need to focus on children and youth ministry; they are the future!”  While he was well-intentioned,  I gently want to lift up another lens.  Children and youth of any age are a valued part of our community today.  Their contributions bless us now and we are thankful!   We are a richer, stronger church family because they are an integral  part of who we are.

I invite you to pray for and encourage all members of the church staff.  Please remember those who faithfully serve our children and youth:

Sara O’Connor,  our new Director of Children’s and Family Ministry.  She officially became a part of the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church staff on August 1.  Please extend a warm welcome to Sara and her family.  We are thankful for her leadership and passion to serve Christ with excellence.

Rebecca Homan, who has faithfully served as our Interim Director, will continue to serve on the staff  as the Assistant to Children’s and Family Ministry.  Under her leadership a record number of families will be attending Family Camp at the Aldersgate United Methodist Camp in Kentucky this week.

Ken Miller, our Director of Student Ministry, brought leadership to a powerful youth mission trip in late July.  The group served as the hands and feet of Christ at mission sites, worshipped and prayed together, and built friendships.  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, through their efforts, even made the local television news in Lima Ohio!

We are thankful for the contributions of the church staff.   This Sunday’s message, “Facing Stress,” is based on Philippians 4:4-8.  Pastor Cathy Johns will preach at the Grace Campus and Pastor Doug Johns will preach at our Nast Trinity Campus.    May God richly bless you and your loved ones this week!

 

Peace,

 

Pastor Cathy