A Disciple-Making Church

The mission of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Every local church in their own context is to be making, maturing and multiplying disciples. A church is always advancing the mission of Jesus Christ in transforming lives and communities.

So what is a disciple? A very simple dictionary definition describes a disciple as “a pupil or follower of a teacher.”  A Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus. We are not only to learn His teachings, but we are to live His teachings. Christian disciples are in the process of becoming more Christ-like. And Christ commissioned us “to make other disciples.”

When you joined Hyde Park Community UMC you took membership vows to give of your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Did you ever think of these as your “vows of discipleship?” Being a church member and part of this faith community is wonderful! Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is even better!

As the Pastor of Discipleship here at Hyde Park Community I challenge you to renew these “vows of discipleship.” As we continue to mature as disciples, we multiply and grow the church. This is our mission. Maybe Christ is calling you into the deeper waters of your baptismal vows of being a disciple.

Jesus said, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of people.” How will you respond to His calling?

As the church, let us continue on our journey of discipleship!

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Dave

The Psalms: How to Handle my Anger

Anger is a normal feeling. We all get angry at times. And everyone deals with anger a little differently. A simple definition is, “the strong human emotion that you feel when you think that someone (a person, a group, an organization or institution) has behaved in an unfair, cruel, or unacceptable way towards you or others. In many cases we feel we have been hurt by others words, actions or both. Anger is our response to this hurt. There is emotional, spiritual and physical consequences to our anger, if not handled properly.

Anger has been around from the beginning of time. However, it seems to me there is so much more anger today! Family anger! Workplace anger! Road rage anger! Social media anger! Racial anger! Political anger! Sad to say at times, there is even anger in the institutional church!

How can we get a handle on it?

I honestly confess, there are times I have been angry at someone or something that deeply concerns me. I usually do fairly well with channeling my anger. Other times it is “not pretty at all” and I need to seek forgiveness. We’ve all been there at one time or another. You may even be there right now.

I wonder what God thinks about all this uncontrolled anger and angst in our world today? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution to this problem? There is plenty of scripture that encourages us to deal with our anger. And as Christians, just maybe, we can find healthier ways to process our anger.

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret, it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37: 8

Please join me in worship this week as I will be speaking to and preaching on this topic. It’s my hope you will take with you a better understanding of anger and “how better to handle it.”

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver

A Good Samaritan Story

Free-lance writer, Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the poorest section of Calcutta, India with Mother Teresa wrote about his once-in-a- lifetime experience with the saint.

“People would often ask me what Mother Teresa was like.  Did she glow in the dark or have a halo?  I would tell them that she was short, wrinkled and precious, maybe a little ornery like a beautiful wise old granny.

But there is one thing I will never forget and that was her feet. They were deformed.  Each morning during Mass, I would stare at those feet.  I wondered if Mother Teresa had leprosy.  Of course, I wasn’t going to ask.

One day a sister asked a group of us, ‘Have you noticed Mother’s feet?’ We nodded.  She said, “Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pairs, so she digs through and finds those.  Years of wearing bad shoes have deformed her feet.’   That was typical Mother Teresa and that was what made her great.  She placed the needs of others above her own.”

This week the sermon will be on the text in Luke 10:25-37. It is one of the most familiar of Jesus’ parables. It is known as “the Good Samaritan Story.” Mother Teresa, in my mind, was a Good Samaritan. All were her neighbors, especially those who were sick and dying with leprosy, and seen as unclean outcasts in the community. She was willing to do what it took to show care and compassion to make a Kingdom of God difference in their lives.

It is my hope you will join us in worship on Sunday to hear this parable in a way that challenges us to think more broadly upon the story. There are several approaches we can take in speaking to this text. I even encourage you to read through the parable before you arrive on Sunday. Where are you in the story? How would you respond to “who is my neighbor?” How have you been a “good Samaritan?” I look forward to sharing more with you on Sunday!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Happy New Year 2018

I’m not sure what your hopes, dreams and aspirations are for the New Year. Better health? Better job? Better relationships? Better home? Better…whatever?  Each year most people at least ponder on what kind of a New Year’s resolution they will start off with to better their life in some way.  What about you?

I have a suggestion: What about your prayer life in 2018? I would venture to say most would agree that the spiritual discipline or practice of prayer is vitally important. What steps are you willing to take to have a better prayer life?

We are starting a new sermon series this Sunday titled: Breakthrough Prayer. It’s our hope this will help us to better understand prayer and create a deeper desire to become more intentional in the practice of prayer. Prayer is about our union with God.

Here are a several quotes that might spur you on in considering a better prayer life:

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Soren Kierkegard

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther

“The neglect of prayer is a grand hindrance to holiness. In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is continual prayer.” John Wesley

I certainly have not fully arrived in my prayer life. But what I do know when I’m in prayer is the sense of the presence and power of God. And many times when, or after praying, I’ve experienced some form of “breakthrough transformation.” To list a few…A forgiving spirit. Being less judgmental. Peace of mind and heart. More kind and loving. Better discernment in decisions.

It’s my hope you will experience new transformation in 2018 through prayer! Happy New Year!

Pastor Dave

A Discipling Church

As the Pastor of Discipleship Ministry at HPCUMC I wish to share a few comments about discipleship. First, a definition: a disciple is a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or a philosopher. To say we are Christian disciples means we are personal followers of Jesus Christ. We follow his teachings, follow how he lived his life, and follow how he shared his love. The church is to model his life and love so that others might come to know him.

Our mission statement at Hyde Park Community is to “share the love of Jesus to transform lives, Cincinnati, and the world.”  The Mission of the West Ohio Conference of United Methodist congregations is, “to equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world… A world of justice, love, and peace filled with people growing in the likeness of Jesus Christ.” Both of these mission statements are about being disciples and transformation.

At HPCUMC we are engaged in growing as disciples from kindergarteners to senior adults and everyone in between. Our faith development and spiritual formation is an ongoing journey. We never quite arrive. However, deeper discovery opportunities of transformation abound here. We need to be more intentional about how we are growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.

It is my hope you will seek opportunities to engage in a Bible study, a Sunday school class, join a small connect or contemplative prayer group, attend a seasonal retreat, or the Walk to Emmaus. All of these are ways to become the disciple Christ would have you be. Honestly examine your heart. Pray about where you are on your journey of transformation. We all have room for growth as disciples.

In the life of the church the beauty of it all is we listen, learn, love and disciple one another in Christian community. As our lives are transformed we are then sent out to “light the way” of transformation in our community and the world.

Stay on the journey of discipleship!

In Christ,

Dave Weaver

IMAGINATION?

Our mind functions through imagination. The reality is we can’t do anything without imagination. One of the meanings of the word “imagination” in the Old Testament is “conception.” Our imagination is the mental function in which we can see things. In my opinion, without an imagination we would be totally noncreative and unproductive.

When you think about it, there are only two ways for a human to “see” something: physical vision through their eyes or imagination. Without imagination: we would be completely limited — virtually robots. All human progress has been born out of imagination — the ability to “see” things differently than they were.

The only way a human can see the past or the future unaided, is through his/her imagination. Memory uses the imagination. Much of our thinking, whether planning or “jumping to conclusions,” involves our imagination. Fear and faith even operate in the realm of imagination.

Many top athletes successfully use their imagination in training. Vividly imagining a successful action seems to be more effective in training than doing it physically. When we experience an event vividly in our imagination it is imprinted as an experience, even though we did not physically do it. Children seem to naturally have active imaginations. At least my granddaughter does.

What about in the life of the church? What about HPCUMC? Is our faith an “act of imagination?”

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NRSV) “Because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

We are starting a new sermon series titled: “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss” and the subtitle this week is, “Imaginations Gone Wild.” Hope the fun-title piques your interest.

See you this Sunday in worship,

Pastor Dave

Our Purpose

Rick Warren, the non-denominational pastor of Saddleback Church in California, wrote a book in early 2000.  The book was titled: “The Purpose-Driven Life.”  In his book he poses several questions. Why am I here?  Does my life matter?  What is my purpose?  Warren later wrote another book titled: “The Purpose-Driven Church.” Both were best sellers.

The scriptures help us to know that God’s purposes are at work or being fulfilled. Here are some scriptures that support my thinking on this.

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

More questions for us all to ponder:  Are we living out our purpose for God’s Kingdom here on earth?   Is our purpose Christ-centered or self-centered?  Is the Holy Spirit actively at work in us to fulfill a greater purpose?

We are still focusing on Christ’s resurrection this week in worship.  The sermon series is titled: “He Lives.”  We are resurrected people.  As followers of the risen Christ, I do believe he gives us a purpose.  It’s my hope all go away from worship this Sunday empowered to live out this purpose.

In Christ,

Dave Weaver

What Are You Facing?

We will all face giants at one time or another in our lives. By giants, I am speaking of seemingly insurmountable problems and issues. We try to beat these giants, but often they seem to only grow stronger with the passing of time.

It could be a giant fear of heights or public speaking. Or it might be a giant of some type of personal sin that you fall into again and again. It might be the giant of pride or envy or gluttony or lust or something else.

In a related way, your giant might be one of addiction, something that has a grip on your life. Then again, it could be a giant threat that is taunting you today. Someone has slandered you. A lawsuit has been filed against you. All consuming and concerning.

Or it might be a different kind of giant altogether, like an unbelieving spouse or a prodigal child. You have prayed for them, you have asked the Lord to reach them, yet they seem to become more hardened as the years pass by. You find yourself wondering how you will ever overcome this.

So how do we deal with giants? We find the answer in the Old Testament account of David and Goliath.

What a victory it was as David boldly defeated the giant Goliath, armed only with a slingshot and five smooth stones. The will of the Philistines was broken. The Israelites were reinvigorated. And it was all because a little shepherd boy answered the call of God and cut down the giant.

So what can we learn from this story about facing off with our own giants in life?

We must first recognize that we all have giants and it takes a lot of courage to face our giants. David had courage to face the Philistine giant without fear. He defeated the giant.  As people of faith, we place our trust in God to help us face our giants.  Being delivered from our giants does not come solely through trust in human might. We believe God is in the battles we face.

1 Samuel 17: 47 says, “All the assembly may know the Lord does not save by sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord’s.” Join us in worship on Sunday and go away reinvigorated in facing your giants!

In Christ,

Pastor Dave Weaver

Happy Epiphany!

Hello Friends,

Happy Epiphany! The Advent and Christmas season is coming to an end. Hope your family holidays were filled with much peace, comfort and joy. The question is “Are you now ready for the New Year of 2017?” One of the first days at the beginning of the New Year we celebrate is called, “Epiphany Sunday.”

Some Epiphany history:

Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas, usually falls on January 6 and marks the official end to the festive season for many Christians. The ancient Christian feast day is significant as a celebration of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, as well as a more general celebration of his birth. The six Sundays which follow Epiphany are known as the time of manifestation.

The Twelfth Night (Epiphany) also marks a visit to the baby Jesus by three Kings, or Wise Men. The word ‘Epiphany’ comes from Greek and means “to show”, referring to Jesus’ being revealed to the world. In the West, Christians began celebrating the Epiphany in the 4th century.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the men found Jesus by following a star across the desert to Bethlehem. The three men – named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – followed the star of Bethlehem to meet the baby Jesus. According to Matthew 2:11, they offered symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality.

Let’s step into the new year of 2017, like the wise men, “seeking diligently” for more of Jesus, the Christ, in our lives. They were following a star that placed them over the place where Jesus was born. They were bearing gifts.

Maybe Hyde Park Community UMC is that place where we find Jesus born anew each and every Sunday in worship, a study class or a small group. What gifts will you bring to the Lord this year? Will you give more generously of your time, talents, and treasures for His Kingdom? I invite you to make Jesus’ teachings more of a priority in 2017. A great faith journey and wise first-step might be to make a heartfelt “recommitment to Christ” New Year’s resolution.

Happy searching! Happy finding! Happy New Year!

Pastor Dave

Dear Friends, ‘Tis the Thanksgiving Season

I do not know about you, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Yes, I enjoy the food, football, and playing cards. (No gambling, I’m a good United Methodist.) But more importantly, I enjoy the family connections and conversations at the table, in the living room, or the kitchen. It’s a very laid back kind of day.

I’m not sure what your family tradition is around Thanksgiving Day. It may be similar, or much different. You may be married and part of a large family and have to make a couple of stops to visit folks. It could be you are a single person and hanging out with friends. And if you choose to be alone this Thanksgiving Day, that’s okay too.

But whatever you decide to do or who you choose to be with, “be thankful, give thanks to God.” There is always much to be thankful for if we only stop and think about it. Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving. Do it in the form of a praise prayer to God or take a moment and jot down or journal your thankfulness down on paper. Share it silently or shout it out to God.

I’m very thankful to God for each of you. The family of faith here at Hyde Park Community is a gift. I thank God for our times of worship, study, faith-sharing, prayer, celebration, and the ways we are in service in our city and in other parts of the world. I praise God for our theological diversity, servant leadership, caring hearts, and our spiritual connectedness, lived out in Christian community. We are a blessed and beloved people. I am thankful. I’m sure many of you feel the same way I do about our church family. Give thanks to God!

Psalm 100: 4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; give him thanks and praise his name. “

It’s my hope and prayer that you and your families have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Bountiful Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver