Mythbusters

Change! Change! Change! I’ve experienced it! You’ve experienced it!
Life is filled with change. Some change just happens and it knocks us down. Other change is necessary, and we initiate it through our choices. Change is essential for our growth and development as a person, as a people.

Without change, as the old Texas adage goes, “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

If there is something that you don’t like about yourself or you find something that is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, well, just change it. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But, as anyone who has ever tried to change knows, it is far from simple or easy. Change can be slow, frustrating, and painful; it can also be engrossing and inspiring. So why is change so difficult? It’s because we usually resist or try to avoid it. It can be risky.

Our personal and professional lives can change. Our religious and spiritual lives can change. Change can happen outwardly or inwardly. God is in the transformation business of changing lives through Jesus Christ. That’s the mission of the church.

Today is our 2nd week of a sermon series titled, “Myth-busters.” Come learn about these myths on change. The reality is that we can trust that God is with us in the midst of whatever life changes we are going through. And that’s Good News!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Ancient Wisdom for Today: Making Decisions

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Knowledge is what is gathered over time through the study or searching of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge and the truth is revealed.

A couple of things: I challenge you to read the whole Book of Proverbs. Read a chapter a day and reflect upon the precepts or principles presented. My guess is you will gain wisdom, insight and likely some inspiration. Go for it!

I pose this question: With all the knowledge we have; “How do we make wise decisions? When you have multiple options in front of you, how do you determine which is the best choice? How do you avoid a bad choice?

If you are anything like me, you want to make wise decisions. There are times I have done very well in decision-making and there are times I have blown it big time. So I’ve had to teach myself how to make the best decision I possibly can. There’s a process in wise decision-making which I’ll briefly share with you this Sunday morning in worship. It has helped me in making better choices. It just might help you!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Dave

Strength in God

What happens when the bottom drops out of your life? When you experience a great calamity like the loss of your home through a fire or a flood? Or suffer through an unwanted divorce, or worse, the death of a loved one who meant the world to you? What happens when you must undergo lingering, intense personal illness or pain that just won’t go away? Some lose their faith in God when they go through times like these. Others, however, find hope and the strength to endure, often discovering a deeper meaning to life as a result of their strong, deeply spiritual and moral convictions. These brave souls see the proof that God is alive and is compassionate during those terrible times, as God cares for our needs.
All our power and strength comes from God who carries us through all suffering. As Christians we surrender to the strength that God provides and God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. As you read through these scripture passages about strength, be encouraged in that it is not your strength that is needed, but the strength that God willingly supplies. All our strength comes from God.

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” — Exodus 15:2

“God is my strength and power: and he makes my way perfect.” — 2 Samuel 22:33

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”– Psalms 46:1

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.” — Ephesians 6:10

At times we must wait patiently and remember, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:31. Lastly, allow the Spirit of God to intercede in prayer on our behalf and God will see us through all our suffering.

Like you, I’ve experienced emotional, physical, and at times, spiritual suffering in my life. But through it all God has responded. God’s strength is greater than my strength. It’s my prayer that God’s strength will be your strength. Because He Lives….We live in his victorious power and resurrection strength that gives us hope both now and forever.

In Christ’s Care,
Dave Weaver

A Little History of Epiphany

Epiphany (Greek) means “manifestation” or “striking appearance.” Theophany (Ancient Greek) means a “vision of God.” Epiphany is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as His manifestation to the world as the Son of God. The miracle at the Wedding at Cana is also celebrated during Epiphany as a first manifestation of Christ’s public life.

In these traditions, the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world (whether as an infant or in the Jordan) and the Mystery of the Incarnation.

In some Western Christian denominations, especially in the past and in the present-day Church of England, the feast of the Epiphany also initiates a liturgical season of Epiphanytide. The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the first Sunday after January 1.

Our scripture lesson this week is focused on the Magi seeking diligently the star in the sky. They have an Epiphany experience when they meet the Christ-child in the manger scene. Face to face they meet God incarnate. Their lives are forever changed.

We all experienced a little of this light at the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The journey for us is to continue to seek and search for more intimacy with Christ. We are to be vessels of light in our dark world. In our seeking Christ our lives are illuminated, and all of a sudden, like the Magi, we have an Epiphany experience. Christ is revealed or manifested in a new light in our lives. Our lives are forever changed.

It is my prayer that you will start the New Year off by “seeking the light.” It is my hope that Hyde Park Community UMC will be a beacon of light in our community, our city and the world. May we become an incarnational church filled with the “light and love” of Jesus Christ, so others seeking Christ may have an Epiphany transformational experience too.

Happy seeking in 2015! In the name of the One we follow, Jesus, the Christ!

Blessings,
Dave

Sacrament of Communion

A sacrament is a finite, physical, visible mediator of the sacred, a means whereby the sacred becomes present to us. A sacrament is a vehicle or vessel of the sacred. In Christian language, a sacrament is an “outward and visible sign” of “an inward spiritual grace.” Sacraments are “doors” to the sacred. They are sacred moments of grace.

There are a variety of names for the sacrament of communion: the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or the Great Thanksgiving, and Holy Communion. Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings.

Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by him at his table whenever it takes place.
Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the church.

Calling it the Eucharist , a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal.

By using these different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the “mystery of God” at work through the Holy Spirit in this sacred act.

October 5 is World Communion Sunday. As you receive the bread and the cup it is my hope that you will experience the presence of Christ in both a personal and communal way. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Let us celebrate this holy sacrament as a means of grace. May it liberate and empower us as the body of Christ.

In Christ’s love,
Dave

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

Making and Multiplying

Sermons, talks, and books on discipleship usually give a basic definition of a disciple as a “learner.” However, I think the New Testament gives us a more thrilling and dynamic definition of a disciple and the cost that follows. Take, for example, the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. How do we know a disciple from a learner? Matthew 13:23 says, “He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” A disciple is, by nature or by definition, a multiplier.

Jesus summons or invites his first disciples to become part of a kingdom movement when he said, “Come follow me.” He later commissioned these followers in Matthew 28:19 by saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus placed the disciple-making process upon those who followed him then and as followers of Jesus today, we, the church, are actively engaged in doing our part in “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Speaking from an education ministry perspective, discipleship is a process of faith formation and spiritual growth. We are in the business of kingdom building through multiplication (mentioned earlier) from “cradle to grave.” So how are we doing here at Hyde Park Community church?

Every infant baptism is the beginning journey, the entry point of discipleship in the church. I’m excited to share that our preschool is not only preparing our children for school, but developing the faith of our “littlest ones” each week through a time of chapel worship and Bible lessons. The children in our Sunday school classes, at an early age, are learning through creative teaching how to pray and to give to missions. Our confirmation teenagers just returned from a retreat last weekend that prepares them to make a public profession of faith and to join the church. Many of our Connect Groups are reading and reflecting upon prayer as a Lenten practice, and others are engaged in the Ultimate Adventure devotional online. Our adult Sunday school classes are all focused on engaging topics and books that are faith-forming. Thursday Edition and our First Friday Night Group have speakers that share their faith stories and experiences. UMW members are active in their circles in spiritual formation and in developing relationships.

As disciples, we are continually on this journey of spiritual development and faith formation. As the church, we do have a mission to “multiply,” not only members, but to make disciples. Our discipleship process is in place. The challenge before us as a church is to become more “intentional and invitational in our discipleship.”

I encourage you to “personally invite” a family member or friend to join us on the journey during Lent and Easter. There are a variety of services or classes offered. Let’s “multiply” the number of people who will worship with us during this holy season. Disciples have a role to play in the work of God’s kingdom. Christ is counting on us to keep his church alive!

Rev. Dave Weaver