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

YOU CAN HELP

New Life Furniture provides household items to families in need in the Greater Cincinnati area.  The following is New Life Furniture’s mission statement:

  • We believe in the healing power of giving and receiving to empower communities to come together and support our most vulnerable populations.
  • We restore dignity and bring pride of ownership and confidence to those in need so they can be self-sufficient.
  • We make giving easy and fulfilling by picking up, transporting and cleaning your gently used furniture and delivering it to those in need.
  • We are the only nationally registered furniture bank in Southwest Ohio, striving to end the cycle of homelessness.

As one of our mission/outreach opportunities (primarily through Summer Impact, although we have various groups looking into connecting with N.L.F.), we offer this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those most vulnerable in our community.

New Life Furniture is in need of essential items including: Mattresses, box springs, dressers, tables, sofas, chairs and other housewares.  For more information, vis their website, www.nlfurniture.org, or schedule a pickup at 513-313-0530.

We grow deeper as Disciples of Jesus Christ when we participate in outreach efforts that transform lives. Involved with New Life Furniture and our mission partners (2020, Center for Respite Care, Habitat for Humanity, IHN, MEAC, Rothenberg, Thanksgiving Baskets, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Education Center and Wesley Community Services) we become God’s transformative presence.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek to grow in the disciple making process for the transformation of the world.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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.

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

Celebrating Summer Impact

Summer Impact is Hyde Park Community’s residential mission program in Cincinnati’s urban core.  Annually we invite youth groups to make Summer Impact their summer mission trip. This summer Hyde Park Community will provide 102 participants lodging, meals, evening worship lead by the Summer Impact Interns, and mission opportunities with the following mission partners: Wesley Chapel Mission Center, New Life Furniture, The Jubilee Project, Center for Respite Care, Stepping Stones, The Wesley Foundation in Cincinnati, with the hope to send groups to work with MEAC’s literacy program and Wesley Community Services.

Each year Hyde Park Community hires 3-5 Interns to assist Sarah Putman, Summer Impact Director, in leading our groups on the journey. Please make sure to read the Interns personal reflections of how God has been at work through Summer Impact.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is living into our mission statement, “To share the Love of Jesus to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World” through our Summer Impact program.  I invite you to join me in praying for Summer Impact, the participants, the Interns and Director, and those we serve.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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 Community

There are a number of clichés that describe the value of “community”, one of which is “united we stand, divided we fall.”  Although true, it is so overused that the power of the statement has been lost, or at best the meaning of its message has been fractured into multiple pieces.

Nonetheless, a life lived in a thriving, healthy, community is an empowered life!  Divided, alone, and isolated we actually do fall.  Throughout the Gospels, the foundation of Jesus’ teaching is “community”.  This was so significant to the followers of “The Way”  (later known as Christians) they developed a complex system of communal living (see Acts 4:32 ff.).  Although the communal lifestyle did not last (for reasons unknown to us), the need for community remains foundational.

Living in community means there is a time when I realize “the world doesn’t revolve around me”.   Richard Rohr in his book, “A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations” writes,

“Our life is not our own, yet, at some level, enlightened people know that their life has been given to them as a sacred trust.  They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them.  They know that ‘love is repaid by love alone,’ as both St. Francis of Assisi and St Therese of Lisieux have said.” (p.134)

Thus, the “flow continues”, it begins as individuals – always flowing into “community”.  “Love is repaid by love!”  Therein lies the power of community, whether it is the local church, the neighborhood in which we live, the school we attend, or the world we are a part of; with gratitude and confidence we love as we have been loved!  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we are empowered and empower others through our community known as Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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

A Life Well Lived!

A Life Well Lived!

Ecclesiastes is one of the books of the Bible many conveniently overlook.  Except for the opening of the third chapter (v.1-8) not many of us know anything about Ecclesiastes.  This Sunday we will help shed some light on the Wisdom of Solomon contained in Ecclesiastes, as we kick-off a 5-week sermon series on Ecclesiastes.  This week: what does it mean to live a “fulfilled” life?

I believe a number of us have heard jokes about arriving at the “pearly gates” of heaven only to be asked a question or two before gaining admission into heaven.  Recently I received an email that wasn’t a joke about gaining access to heaven, but a reflection of what a conversation with God might look like once we arrive at our eternal home.  It is a thought-provoking piece that can help us re-frame what a fulfilling life, here and now, looks like.

  • God won’t ask the square footage of your house; God will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  • God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet; God will ask how many you helped to clothe.
  • God won’t ask what your highest salary was; God will ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
  • God won’t ask what your job title was; God will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
  • God won’t ask how many friends you had; God will ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  • God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; God will ask how you treated your neighbor.
  • God won’t ask about the color of your skin; God will ask about the content of your character.

Too often in life we put a wrong emphasis on the wrong things, believing “this” is what matters to God.  Micah summarizes what God requires/desires: “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)  Jesus summarizes the entirety of the law:  “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  Contained in these verses is the pathway to a fulfilling life.  I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we pursue a life well lived!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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