The Explosion of Choice

A research study recently asked 100 Japanese and American students to write down the decisions that they would like to make for themselves on a sheet of paper.  On the other side they were asked to write down decisions they preferred others choose for them.

When Americans wrote their entries for decisions they preferred to make themselves, the page was filled quickly.  It included items such as where to live and the type of job they would pursue.  The flip side was almost empty; the only decision most Americans wanted to pass along to someone else was the time of their death.

The Japanese had very different results, filling up the side with the things they preferred others would choose for them, including what they wore, what time they would awaken, and their occupation.

The researchers concluded that Americans desired to make their own choices four times more than the Japanese.  David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, notes:  “Americans now have more choices over more things than any other culture in human history.  He adds that it is “becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well.”

Today, I invite you to consider: “How do I want to serve Christ in the coming year?”  Please visit the Ministry Fair in the Welcome Center today.  IThe ministry fair celebrates many of the ministry teams that make a difference in our church family.  On October 1, we will dedicate our service inventories in worship.

I will be praying for God to guide your decision; it is a joy to serve Christ with each one of you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Stallone: The Church is the Gym of the Soul

Sylvester Stallone was raised in a Christian home, attended Catholic schools and was “taught the faith.”  In a 2006 interview he shares that as he went out into the “real world,” temptation came and he lost his way, making a lot of bad choices, including putting his career ahead of his faith and family.

There was a point when he reached back to his Christian heritage.  Stallone shares:  “The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his Word and having him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

Stuart Shepard, the interviewer, shares another one of Stallone’s lessons on self-reliance: “You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else,” he said. “You cannot train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.”

Being a part of a Christian community means partnering with God to bring heaven to earth, transforming all of creation, one life at a time. One way to do this is through the Ministry Fair, September 24.  Please stop by the Welcome Center on September 24 to learn about ways to serve Christ through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, October 1, we will be offering our service commitments to God on World-Wide Communion Sunday.

It is a joy to be a part of this community of faith where I can come and deepen my walk with God in our “gym of the soul!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Job Description of A Lighthouse Keeper

The National Park Service has a 124- page manual to describe the duties of lighthouse keeper.

Here are a few of the tasks:

  • Light the beacon well before dusk.
  • Inspect the Fresnel lens, with its many prisms, which was cleaned that morning.
  • Check the lamp that produces the light and refill with fuel.
  • Trim the wick and light it
  • Unlock the gears that cause the lens to revolve
  • Check the weather with a telescope frequently
  • Attend to shipwrecked persons or notify others to bring aid to those in peril on the sea

Although the pay was minimal, lighthouse keepers were well-respected individuals in the community.

This week’s new sermon series, “Finding God,” reminds us that God is there always – like a faithful lighthouse shining in the night – to guide and direct us.  Like ships that drift off course, sometimes we can lose our way and get dangerously close to the rocks.  God, however, is never lost, but stands firmly on the shore, shining brightly, wanting nothing more than to welcome us home.

May God richly bless you this weekend as you seek the peace found in God,  our refuge and strength.     

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Bible Study

10.  The first disciples gathered together to study scriptures and pray. (Acts 2)   

9.  It is like mining for diamonds; new treasures appear each week!

8.  Learning and sharing with others with different viewpoints is refreshing.

7.  My prayer life deepens as I pray for others and they pray for me.

6.  Being a part of a small group gives me a safe place to share my thoughts and needs and be a part of a wonderful community.

5. Reading the Bible helps direct my decisions: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

4.  I meet new people, form amazing friendships, and enjoy amazing snacks. (not kidding!)

3.  It is good exercise, for my mind and my soul, opening me to new ideas.

2.  Hopefully, I become a little more like Jesus; Jesus studied the scriptures too!

1.  It is a lot of fun! (stress-free learning environment guaranteed!)

You are invited to join me this fall and winter for Disciple Fast Track.   This is a 12-week study of the Old Testament for very new beginners to Bible Study and those who simply want to learn more.  It begins in September 2017 and ends in March 2018… sounds slow, right?!

It is intentionally designed and paced for people with busy lives!  We will meet twice a month on Tuesday evenings, beginning on September 12.  We will also be sharing appetizers each week and then study the Bible together.  If you would like to hear more about this incredible experience of eating and studying together on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:00 pm, please contact me at: cjohns@hpcumc.org or call me at the office:  513-871-1345.  I would love for you to join in the adventure!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

All Creatures Great and Small: Quiz

1. What is the smallest flower?

2. What is the largest flower?

3. What is the largest animal in the ocean?

4. What is the smallest animal in the ocean?

5. What is the largest bird?

6. What is the smallest bird?

This Sunday we will be exploring the difference between how God and humanity look at creation and all that is in it.  For several decades there has been a quest to possess the world’s tallest building.  Once it was the Empire State Building; currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has the honor, standing at 2,716.5 feet.

We are tempted to believe that bigger is better.  God’s viewpoint is refreshing:  all of creation is valued and loved.  In Matthew’s gospel we are reminded of a God who numbers the hairs on our heads and values the sparrows.  Jesus reminds us of God’s ongoing care and protection, urging His disciples not to be afraid.

May God richly bless you as you remember God’s love for you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

        Answers:

1. Watermeal., or duckweed, is a flowering aquatic plant about the size of a grain of rice.

2. Rafflesia arnoldil, found in the Indonesian rainforest, can grow up to 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 pounds.

3. The Blue whale boasts 100 feet in length and weighs between 100-150 tons.

4. Zooplankton, which drift on ocean currents, are the tiniest animals in the sea.

5. Ostriches are the largest birds; their height can be 6 ft. and their weight 150 kilograms.

6. The bee hummingbird, only 2 to 2.4 inches, weighs between 0.056 – 0.071 ounces, less than the weight of a penny.

Madame Blueberry’s Quest

Madame Blueberry, of Veggie Tales fame, lives in a very nice tree house.  She has friends and is very comfortable; however, she has a yearning to always have more stuff.

One day she receives visitors.  She is informed that a new mega store is opening soon.  They will have all kinds of incredible products available to her.  She can replace all of her old stuff with brand new stuff.

Madame Blueberry can hardly wait for opening day….

She goes to the mega store and buys everything that she possibly can.  She discovers, however, that she is still sad.  Her possessions, although shiny and new, do not bring her happiness.

This week we will be talking about the “Illusion of Money.”  Money is not good or bad.  Acquiring wealth is not an evil thing.  When we allow money to become the focus of our lives and the love of money begins to consume us, we discover its limitations.

Francis Bacon wrote, “Money is a great servant, but a bad master.”  John Wooden shares: “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.”

This Sunday we will explore what the Bible has to say about something we manage daily:  money.   Please read Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 to prepare your heart for worship.

May God richly bless you today with deep, abiding joy!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Power of the Magnifying Glass

Any good scout can teach you how to start a fire.  If you are lucky you have dry matches and dry wood, of course; but you can start a fire using one of these methods:

Flint and Steel: By striking these two objects together over some dry kindling you can create a spark which will start a fire.  This takes patience, but it does work.

Magnifying Glass and Bird’s Nest:  Placing a dry bird’s nest on some kindling and then holding a magnifying glass toward the sun is an effective way to start a fire.  The trick is to hold steady, focusing the sun through the magnifying glass into a small shaft of light.  This takes patience too, but usually works.

This week we are continuing to study Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes.  He was known for his wisdom.  This week’s scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:9-15, reminds us of the power of focus.  It is easy to become distracted with many things stimulating us and vying for our attention.

Consider the focus of your life this weekend.  Bruce Lee said, “”The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

May God help us all to focus on God who continues to bless us beyond measure, caring for us and all of creation.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Lessons from Dogs

Lessons from Dogs

Dogs help us understand God.  They help us see how God operates.  Here are a few examples:

  • They are always happy to welcome you home.   No matter how far away you strayed from the path, like a prodigal daughter or son, they rejoice when you come home.
  • They just want to hang out with you.  Your presence is what they love, longing for time to simply be together.
  • They are happy to rescue you from harm.  Dogs are trained to go over mountains and over rivers to pull people out of danger to safety.
  • Dogs are faithful.  A good dog will never leave you or forsake you.
  • Dogs, like God, are all about giving.  Their sole purpose is to love you.

This Sunday, I invite you to consider what it really means to follow Jesus, who is the Christ.

Who knows?!  The dogs may be pointing us in the right direction!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Breaking Bread Together

Consider the joy of breaking bread together….

It is a wonderful thing to sit at the table with family or friends and share a meal together.  Good food, with great conversation, is a wonderful combination!

This weekend we begin a new sermon series based on Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved. In the next few weeks we will be studying what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus  as part of an authentic  Christian community.  The four verbs that are included in the liturgy for the Eucharist (the Sacrament of Holy Communion) will be explored:  Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given.

Jesus did some of his best work at the table, breaking bread with others:

He ate dinner with Zacchaeus, a known tax collector, who was delighted to host Jesus in his home

He enjoyed food, friendship, and fellowship in Bethany with his friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary

The night before He was crucified, Jesus took ancient symbols of bread and wine, used in the Passover feast, and invited His followers to be a part of a new covenant, communing together in remembrance of Him. 

As the Risen Christ, He revealed His identity to His companions in Emmaus as He broke bread with them.                                                                                                                                       

In our world today which seems bent on division and discord, not unity and harmony, this sermon series will challenge us to embrace our neighbors in love as we step up to be the body of Christ.

We look forward to sharing the Lord’s Day with you this weekend.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy Johns

The Doctor is IN!

Easter is many different things to many different people. Easter is my favorite day of the year. The victory over sin and death has been won. We are healed through the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.  We join the voices of people around the world who claim the victory that is ours:

“Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!”

But what difference does the Resurrection make in my life?

Someone once said, “Jesus walks in when the world has walked out.”

Jesus wants you to experience the deep abiding joy of His presence.  Celebrate with me today the Risen Christ who brings healing to:

our selfish natures and invites us to give ourselves

away in love for others….

Jesus is the Lord of Love

our hearts which can become weary and tired….

Jesus is the Good Shepherd

our broken dreams,  and picks up the pieces of our lives….

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

our bodies and minds, plagued by worry and illness….

Jesus is the Great Physician

our fears about life and death….

Jesus is the Keeper of our Souls

Today we celebrate that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, is present with us:  The Doctor is in!

May your Easter be filled with love, peace, and deep, abiding joy!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy