37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
At First United Methodist Church of Laurel – MD – we talk a lot about evangelism. Evangelism is not a dirty word folks! In the Great Commission – we are called to go and make disciples. Matthew 28:19–20 – 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Making disciples is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and that is evangelism.
Evangelism is – according to one definition I found online – the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. A Scripture that defines evangelism – that gives us an example of telling the story of the Gospel – can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – 1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Continue reading
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.
A couple of years ago I was at the lowest point ever in my life. I was in what is medically called a major depression. I had isolated myself from everything and everyone. Praise God I found the right treatment and medication.
When I had made it through this time, the blessings of family and friends was once again a rich part of my life. However, I was afraid that on my return to attending church there would be questioning looks and/or abrasive comments. That was never the case. I was welcomed back with open warm and loving arms. I felt awash in His love from people I call family. First Church is full of loving and caring people who stand with you in any circumstance. What a very special blessing! My return to this family has made every Christmas and Easter since the best of celebrations. It sounds dramatic, however I felt born anew as I returned to good mental health, the Christmas connection. What a joy to celebrate the risen Savior on Easter! All these new beginnings richly bless me during holidays and throughout the year.
As I close, I share a call to action. Think about someone you know who may not feel blessed this Christmas season because of depression, loss, and/or grief. Please contact them to check in on how they are doing. You and your love may be the blessing they need, a lifeline to knowing that someone cares.
If you would like more information about depression and other mental health issues, please see www.nami.org.
I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Thanksgiving comes once a year – as does Christmas – Easter – Pentecost – etc. Yet we don’t have to limit our thankfulness to one day – do we? If your family is like mine – when we gather to give thanks over the bounty on Thanksgiving – we pause to give thanks for something specific – everyone at the table. It is a touching time – and watching our family age before our eyes – year after year – brings a nostalgic note too. Listening to what the girls (and soon the grandchildren) are thankful for always touches my heart.
I’m the crier in the family. An example was when I totally lost it at my wife’s 50th birthday party some years ago. I’m not sure why – other than we were honoring her for the awesome woman of God she has always been. Tears will flow for most any reason from my eyes. With the holidays coming I will shed tears when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the 200th time – and even while watching Charlie Brown Christmas – tears will flow. Continue reading
In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
One Sunday not too long ago we mentioned in a sermon that Christians sometimes take Jesus for granted. It seems to be human nature that if things are going well – at work – in our marriages – at church – in life – we tend to take Jesus for granted. Most Christians spend more time on their knees when crisis is at their doorstep than when life is good. When life is not going well – we tend to turn to Jesus more often and with more ease.
Attendance in most churches the Sunday after 911 was an indication (September 16, 2001) of what I just wrote. I was pastoring a church at the time with an average attendance of about 300 give or take a few on any given Sunday. But the Sunday after 911 there were well over 400 in attendance. It seems that crisis brings us to Jesus. Attendance figures during World War II saw this same truth played out. The Sunday after 911 week (September 23) – when life was still in an upheaval – but out of crisis mode – attendance was back to normal. It is the same thing with Easter it seems – attendance almost doubles for one week and then we are back to normal – and at times less than normal – because folks who do not attend every week all came on Easter. Attendance this past Sunday (September 11, 2016) was slightly above normal as we came to remember. Continue reading
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Happy Easter morning! I am posting this before our 6:30 am sunrise service for those who are early risers on Easter morning.
Here’s the Easter passage for this morning’s sunrise service. Mark 16:1–7 – 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
Here’s the Easter passage from the regular Sunday services. Matthew 28:1–10 – 1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Continue reading