Russell United Methodist Church
Monday, December 11, 2017
Come Grow With Us !

From the Pastor

November 2017

“Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”  21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

-Matthew 22:19-21(NIV)

 

Dear Church Family,

The Signature of the Master

Most artists sign their work when they paint.  When artists sign their work, it is an indication they are ready to show it to the world; it also shows the world who created the painting.  In Matthew 22:15-22, the religious leaders asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.  During this time, Judea and Jerusalem were under the control of the Romans and the Jews were not independent. The Pharisees and their friends wanted to trap Jesus.  If he had said yes it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar they would have accused him of being in favor of the Romans rule over the Jews.  If he had said it was not lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, they would have presented him as someone guilty of treason.  But Jesus turned things on them by asking for a coin followed by two questions: “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

In a previous sermon, I focused on the key word, “image” and showed that the coin was the only thing that had Caesar’s image.  All humans were made in the image of God.  The coin belonged to Caesar. All humans belong to God, including Caesar.  Going back and reading the text again, another key word, “inscription,” stood out.  The word, “inscription” refers to the wording on the coin.  Jesus ended by telling them to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The King James Version (KJV) used the word, “render” in place of “give.”  The word, “render” has to do with payment, offering, and recompense. 

Jesus implied that the coin had Caesar’s wording and signature so it should be returned to him in the form of taxes.  The question then becomes, where can we find God’s wording and signature?  God’s wording and signature can be found everywhere in creation.  Like a master artist that places his signature on his work, so all of creation has God’s signature.  David wrote in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Paul himself affirmed, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Just as the heavens, and all nature, declare the glory of the Lord and proclaim the work of his hands, we believers must also broadcast God.  Our lives are walking testaments to the world that God is real, God is love, God is truth, God is good, and God is everything the Bible says. If we are to render to God what belongs to God, we will agree that our lives, our bodies, our hearts, our jobs, homes, money, and families belong to God. By our worship, our mission, our ministry, and our lives, the world will see we are God’s art and that God’s art has God’s signature.  The world will also see that we were produced from the heart, mind and hands of God.

Let us look within ourselves and recognize we were made in the image of God. Not only do we have God’s image, we also have God’s mark, wording and signature to show the world we’re special.  Believe it, claim it, and live it.

 

In mission together,

Pastor Jerome  

 

October 2017

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

-Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)

Dear Church Family

Reasons to Praise God

David was the author of Psalm 103.  Knowing the life of David from 1 Samuel 16 and 17, we can see why he began this Psalm with the words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”  In this sentence, the word, “bless” comes from the idea of kneeling in adoration, to worship.  David was the youngest in his family when God set him aside and asked Samuel to anoint him king of Israel.  Before he was anointed, David was a shepherd who faithfully cared for his flock and diligently defended them from a lion and a bear.  David was the most successful king Israel ever had and the greatest unifier of Israel, bringing all the tribes together in one kingdom under his leadership.  David had reasons to praise God.

David wanted his praise to begin from within, from the innermost parts of his being and flow out into spoken word, celebratory song and worshipful dance.  David listed the things he praised God for: Divine benefits (life, health, friends, faith, family, food, etc.), forgiveness, healing, redemption, a crown of love and mercy, satisfaction (feeling fulfilled), and vitality.  David had many reasons to praise God.  Actually, he needed only one; any one of these benefits gave him a reason to adore God.

When we look at our lives, we can count our blessings. Hearing the sweet melodies of music, seeing the gorgeous colors of nature, having faith, friends and family are all blessings not to take for granted.  A woman who had experienced some hardships decided to count her blessings.  As she counted her blessings, she became happier because she realized she was truly special.  She stopped and started thanking God for all the blessings she enjoyed.

In Psalm 116:12, David asked a question we should all ask ourselves: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”  He answered his own question: “I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord
now in the presence of all His people.” In the days to come, let us remember we are more blessed than we realize.  If we are looking for a reason to praise God through worship and Bible study, don’t forget the benefits of forgiveness, healing, redemption and more.  We are all blessed.

In mission with vision,

Pastor Jerome 

 

September 2017

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. –Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We Are God’s Sanctuaries

There is a beautiful song called, “Sanctuary.”  The chorus of this inspiring worship song goes, “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.” A sanctuary is a sacred place where worshippers gather to fellowship with one another and with God.  It is a holy place. It is also a place of protection where people seek safety and refuge.  When Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and asked them to present their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” he was calling on them to become sanctuaries.

By becoming sanctuaries, they would live sacrificial lives offered to God, which Paul described as their “reasonable service.”  By turning their bodies into “a living sacrifice,” this required readiness.  They presented themselves and God prepared them to be living sacrifices.  Just as a sanctuary is a place where God dwells and which is set aside for God, we, as Christian believers, must present ourselves so that God will dwell within and among us.  Furthermore, just as a sanctuary is a place of safety and refuge, we must allow our faith community and our individual lives to become safe places for others to find strength and shelter with us.

This means when those who have spiritual struggles come to the church, we must be available to help them with those struggles. There are those who are sick with loneliness, regrets, and confusion. We must allow God to prepare us to be a refuge and comfort for them.  Others are lost; we must be the light to help guide them.    We are the sanctuary they need to receive healing and redemption.

We must be different, stand out, and imitate Jesus.  When we do, we will present ourselves so that God will prepare us to be sanctuaries where those who are hurting can find healing for their wounds.  This will be our living sacrifice.

See you in church.

 

Pastor Jerome

 

July/August 2017

 

“Come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

-Matthew 11:28 (NIV)    

 

Dear friends,

Life can be like a roller coaster ride or like a traffic jam on a busy highway.  These times can be stressful, leading to exhaustion and even depression.  When we find ourselves in these turbulent times, it is valuable to know there is a place we can go for rest, renewal and restoration.  In a description of a Bible study series by Abingdon, the website states, “we often are overwhelmed by the demands and circumstances of life, resulting in stress, fear, worry, impatience, fatigue, frustration, and even depression. The truth is that we were created to be overwhelmed . . . not by life but by God! When we learn to be overwhelmed by God, the fruit in our lives goes from rotten to fragrant—filling our days with peace, hope, love, and joy.”  Jesus understands how difficult things can get when we have to juggle family, work, friendships, and personal wellness.  We always need a break. 

This is why Jesus offered Himself as the oasis of life, the place where we go to unwind, to find rest, to renew our souls and restore our energy for the journey ahead.  Jesus invited us:  “Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads of care, and I will give you rest.”  Summer is here.  It is a time when families send children to summer camps, go on vacation, and spend time outdoors.  This is a great time for family bonding but it can also be a time of great pressure and stress.  Jesus will always be there when we need quiet time.

We who follow Jesus can provide the oasis and rest for one another.  A pastor once wrote, “When we are saved, transformed and growing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we become if you like an oasis of God here on earth.”  He went on to write, “People like this build up communities, they become shelters from the evil of the world to those around them, their faith shields others, their prayers intercedes for others, these people carry Christ to the lost, the hurting, the sick, the ignorant, those in need.”

We are your oasis.  We will be here for you.  The sanctuary of our church is always a place for quiet meditation.  The calming voice of a fellow believer is always reassuring.  The Bible contains hundreds of the promises Jesus made to walk with us as our companion.  Do not walk alone.  We can count on one another for moral, emotional, and spiritual support.  Jesus is our oasis in the desert of life where we can find rest from the weariness of our journey.  We reflect Jesus and become the oasis for one another.  When you are tired, you know where to look to find rest and be renewed.

 

In Mission with Vision,

Rev. Jerome F. Kennedy

Pastor, Russell/Akeley Charge UMC 

June 2017

“But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

-John 14:26 (NIV)

God’s Representative    

Dear Church Family,

Did you hear the story about a bishop who visited a local church?  During that visit, the bishop saw a powerful red and orange banner on the wall of the church.  The words on the banner read, “Come Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!”  Right below the words was a picture of a fire burning.  As the bishop kept looking at the banner, he was curious about a sign directly underneath the banner which said, “Fire extinguisher.”

I’m sure it was an accident that the banner was placed directly above a fire extinguisher, giving the impression that the congregation was excited about the coming of the Holy Spirit only to extinguish it as soon as it arrived.  It is not possible to extinguish the Holy Spirit but as Paul pointed out in Ephesians 4:30, it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit.  He cautioned us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

The Holy Spirit is a promise from Jesus Christ.  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, which he described as an advocate, one who speaks for and supports another.  The Spirit speaks for God in our lives and supports us in our obedience. Reminding us about the teachings of Christ is one way the Spirit supports us since we’re expected to obey Christ’s teachings as He Himself said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

The first Sunday in June is the Day of Pentecost commemorating when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles as tongues of fire.  The Spirit has taken other forms such as a dove in Luke 3:22 when Jesus was baptized and appeared as one of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit represents God in our lives so that we will represent God in the world.

Let’s celebrate the Holy Spirit.  Since we can’t extinguish it, let us not grieve it.  When we do, we will prove we love Jesus by obeying His Commandments.  With this commitment, we can boldly say with the hymn writer, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love.”  This way we will represent God in the world.

In Mission with Vision,

Pastor Jerome    

 

May 2017

 

2 Samuel 7:1-14

2 Samuel 11:1-15

 

“Staying Focused”    

 

Brothers/Sisters in Christ,

     A Liberian proverb goes, “If you listen to the noise of the marketplace you will not focus on your business.” This proverb is demonstrated in the story of a mother who sent her young son to the nearby grocery store to buy a dozen eggs. On his way, the boy met a group of his friends huddled together on the ground.  When he stopped to see what they were doing, he saw they were playing a game of marbles.  They asked him to join them and he did.  After playing with his friends for a few hours, someone teased him about rolling the marbles as though they were eggs.  Suddenly he remembered his mother had sent him to buy eggs hours ago.  He had lost his focus.

In the two scripture passages above, we find David losing his focus.  In 2 Samuel 7, David made a decision to build a house for God without first seeking guidance from God Himself.  As a result, God told him another person will be chosen to build the Temple.  It is important as a church to always seek God’s guidance first before we undertake any ministry in the church or any project in our personal and family lives to take it to the Lord in prayer.  King Solomon recognized this fact when he wrote in Psalm 121:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”  We must stay focused on the reality that when we put God first in everything we do, we will understand what God’s will is for our lives.

David lost his focus again when he was distracted by the beauty of Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.  His lust for Bathsheba led him to covet.  When he coveted Bathsheba, he committed adultery and from adultery, he committed murder.  All this happened because he forgot his army was on the battlefield and that he should have been there with them.  Although he wasn’t there with them, he was still on a battlefield with his own desires of the flesh.  He should have been in prayer for his army but he lost focus and brought generations of trouble upon his family.  As a church, we’re always on the battlefield.  We are fighting against forces that place obstacle in our lives and plant doubts in the church among members to create division.

We must stay focused.  Like the boy whose mother sent him on an errand, God has sent us on a mission, which we find in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20).  There is noise in the marketplace as we implement God’s call.  Let us always put God first in all we do and remain vigilant as soldiers on the battlefield.  May God bless our ministry and prosper the works of our hands.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jerome

 

April 2017


When they had come near Jerusalem and reached Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.  And if anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”

-Matthew 21:1-3

 

“The Lord Needs Them”

Dear friends,

In the Book of Acts, Chapter 4, we read about how believers in the early church did not claim any possessions for themselves; instead, “they shared everything” (verse 32).  It is a sense of true Christian maturity that inspires a believer not to get attached to material things and accept the reality that everything we possess belongs to God.  When Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem as the Messiah, He sent two disciples to a nearby village to bring a mother donkey and her baby without asking the owner’s permission.  He did tell the disciples that if anyone asked why they were taking the donkeys, they were to say, “The Lord needs them.”

God doesn’t need our permission to use what we have.  We are caretakers and managers of everything we have in our possession.  Lent is a time to exercise greater self-denial and reducing our attachment to the material world.  When the Lord needs what we have, He will find ways to let us know; we should be alert for such moments.  Whether it’s our homes for a Bible study or prayer meeting, our cars for mission trips, our time to volunteer to care for children or at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, and our money to pay for things to promote the Kingdom of God, we should be like the owner of the donkeys.  The only response from this owner was consent.  He agreed, without a doubt or hesitation, to send his animals with the disciples because the Lord needed them.

Both the early church and this owner teach us valuable lessons of how to view material and spiritual possessions.  No matter what we own, when the Lord needs it, we must send it willingly and joyfully.  This is a sign of our commitment and devotion to the Lord.  When the Lord needs it, it’s his anyway.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Jerome

 

March 2017

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts not your garment. Return to the Lord your God, for he is slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

-Joel 2:12-13 (NIV)

“Coming Home”    

Dear Church Family,

 

There is a story about a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War and received serious injuries.  He had stepped on a land mine and had lost an arm and a leg. He called his parents and told them he had a friend he wanted to bring home with him.  His parents said, “Sure. We would like to meet him.” He then explained that this “friend” was badly hurt in the war and had lost an arm and a leg and had nowhere else to go.  His parents said, “I’m sorry to hear that son.  Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”  But their son insisted. His father said, “Son, you don’t know what you’re asking.  Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us.  We have our own lives to live and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives.  I think you should just come home and forget about this guy.  He’ll find a way to live on his own.”

When their son heard that, he hung up the phone.  The parents heard nothing more from him.  A few days later, they received a call from the police.  They were told their son had died after falling from a building. The police believed it was suicide.  The grief-stricken parents flew to the city and to the morgue to identify their son.  When they saw their son’s body, they noticed something they didn’t know: He had only one arm and one leg.  He had called about himself and they had rejected their own son.

As Christians, we often become wounded by sin.  Sometimes our wounds are so serious, we become spiritually handicapped.  Our heavenly Father will never reject us, no matter how badly wounded we are emotionally and spiritually.  Many times, these wounds are self-inflicted.  God calls on us as he did the people of Israel to admit how we have wounded ourselves through sin and repent.  There was a time in Israel when people showed repentance by tearing their clothes.  God called on Israel to “rend” their hearts not their garments. This showed their sincerity of repentance was genuine.

During this season of Lent, we confess and repent through spiritual disciplines such as fasting and prayer, through meditation, study, and self-denial.  We who are wounded come to our Lord Jesus to be healed and restored by his love, power and grace.

     May the Spirit strengthen us to come home to our Heavenly Father because he invites us to return to Him and be made whole again.

 

In Mission with Vision,

Pastor Jerome

 

February 2017

 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

-Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

 

“Epiphany and the Presence of God”

Dear brothers and sisters,

     A special season in the church year is Epiphany.  Epiphany is a festival held on January 6th to celebrate the coming of the three wise men who brought gifts to Jesus at his birth. The church will celebrate Epiphany until Lent on March 1st. The word itself means a revelation, and, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being.”   In Exodus 13:21, when the Israelites traveled through the wilderness to the Promised Land, we read that “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night.”  The pillars of cloud and fire were epiphanies because they revealed the presence of God to assure the people they were not alone, that God was with them.

     Jesus became the Epiphany to assure us God was with us.  In today’s world where we find the darkness of violence, wars, epidemics, and hatred, we the Church must become the Epiphany to bring light into the darkness. We are the presence of Christ in the world.

     In a prayer believed to have been written by Francis of Assisi, we read Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

     We who once walked in darkness have seen a great light. We who once lived in deep darkness, on us the light has dawned. As we follow Christ, we must allow his light to shine through us.  When we channel Jesus, we will become his instruments and show the world that Jesus is the Light of the world.  I encourage us, the Church, to be God’s Epiphany as we shine the Light of Love into the darkness. The Church is the Epiphany, God’s presence in the world.  Let us live up to our nature as the Light of God throughout our lives. 

 

Grace and peace to you,

Pastor Jerome

 

January 2017

Showing our love for God

 Kings 3:3-4

          “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David… The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.”

Brothers/Sisters in Christ,

          There is a popular expression, which goes, “Talk is cheap.” This expression reminds me of a well-known song that asked all those who declared their love for someone to show proof that they were serious. The chorus of the song went,

 

If you love me say it
If you trust me do it
If you want me show it
If you need me prove it

 

          When Solomon became King of Israel, he was grateful for all the things God had done for him and his family before him, especially for his father, King David. 1 Kings Chapter 3 tells us, “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David.” Solomon did this to prove he really loved God. Later, when God directed him to build the temple in Jerusalem, Solomon constructed one of the most splendid and spectacular buildings the world has ever seen to glorify God.

          After we learned how much God loves us and sent His only begotten Son to die in our place on the cross at Calvary, the Holy Spirit inspired us to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It was God’s love for us that drew us to the Cross of Christ and made us love God in return. 1 John 4:9-11 described it this way: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

 

          As Believers, we frequently express to the Community of Faith how much we love God.  God says to us, “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). God wants us to show our love in concrete, practical ways.  One way we can do this is to remember the vow we made when we became United Methodists and declared, “We will remain loyal and uphold the church through our prayers, presence, gifts and service.” If we live by this vow, we will definitely prove our love for God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jerome

December 2016

Expect the Unexpected

 

Dear Friends,

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

-Matthew 24:42 

Every year, right after Halloween, we expect Thanksgiving.  From Thanksgiving Day, the Christmas spirit rises and the anticipation of Christmas gets many people excited.  During the holiday season, we plan for that one glorious day when we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Before Christ was born over 2,000 years ago, the prophet Isaiah had predicted the coming of the Messiah.  The people of Israel knew about the prophetic predictions especially by Isaiah but also by other prophets.  Yet, they were not prepared when Jesus was born and they missed the opportunity to welcome the Messiah.  Mary was surprised when the angel came to her.  So was Joseph when he heard Mary was already expecting a child while they were still engaged (Matthew 1:18).

As we begin the season of Advent and celebrate the birth of Christ, let us remember that Christ comes to us every day, many times in unexpected ways. A Christian woman recently wrote: “I asked God for a loaf of bread, and He gave me a basketful. I asked Him for a cup of water, and He took me to the river to drink. I asked Him for mercy, and He added His grace. I asked Him for a tree, and behold, He showed me the forest! He said to me, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’”

Our God is a God of surprises.  Expect the unexpected. Enjoy God’s surprises for you and pray to recognize when Christ shows up.  Celebrate life because you are loved and let’s make every day count.

In mission with vision,

Pastor Jerome

 
November 2016

And my God shall supply all your needs according to the riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

-Philippians 4:19-20 (NKJV)

Dear friends,

Needs and Wants

     We all know there’s a difference between our needs and our wants. We need shelter, air, water, and oxygen. The things we need are things we can’t live without; things that are indispensable to our survival. The things we want are things we would like to have. These are not absolutely necessary for our lives, but they’re nice to have. Think about the following and decide which ones should be on our list of needs or wants: Food, air, cell phone, church offering, insurance, clothes, large TV, eating out, house payment/rent, concert tickets.

     As he ended his letter to the Philippians, Paul told them about the spiritual needs in our lives. He missed his church family in Philippi and wished he could see them again and urged them to stand by each other with words of encouragement. Christian fellowship is a necessity for spiritual growth. He assured them their names were written in the Book of Life, telling them, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice” (verse 4). When we learn to rejoice in all things, we will never be discouraged by life’s challenges.

     Another spiritual need is prayer and Paul called on the Philippians to offer all their prayers with thanksgiving. He went on to say, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (verse 8). These are virtues we need and cannot live without.

     Paul mentioned being satisfied even when he didn’t have everything required for living because, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (verse 13). In reminding the Philippians to keep the promises they made, Paul said when we fulfill our promises, our gifts become “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (verse 18). These spiritual needs help us not only to survive, but also to thrive. God who is the Giver of all good gifts understands where we are in life and will “supply all our needs according to the riches in glory by Jesus Christ.

     Here is the spiritual secret in this: When God supplies our needs, we will have enough to go after the things we want. For example, food, a home, a clear mind, and good health are what we need; when we have these, we can work, be creative and find ways to earn so that we can buy the things we want.

 

Grace and peace to you all,

Rev. Jerome F. Kennedy

PASTOR

October 2016

Dear Church Family,

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
 when it is in your power to act.”

-Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)

 

Grace and peace to you through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

I read about a young man who wasn’t happy with his job. He left his dream job without a plan for the future.  He struggled with his next steps in life.  After brainstorming, he came up with the idea of “Thirty Days of Service,” to complete 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days. During this time, he volunteered to assist a 74-year-old veteran deliver meals to senior citizens who were homebound.  That day he wrote that he experienced joy after he realized that while the food was important, he was really delivering happiness because seniors matter.  He volunteered with the Dream Foundation, an organization that helps adults who are terminally ill to fulfill their dreams and wishes. This made him realize he had so much to be grateful for.  In the end, he started his own organization called, “Good Citizen” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-jamison/thirty-days-of-service_b_3763437.html).

This is so much similar to what the writer of the Proverbs called on us to do in chapter 3.  This chapter focused on wisdom, the ability to discern truth from error, right from wrong and do the right thing at the right time.  In explaining verse 27, the writer gave an example in verse 28 by saying, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ when you already have it with you.” If we have the power to help someone today, why postpone it to tomorrow?

In our faith communities, are there situations that call for our attention?  Are there things we can do to brighten someone’s day or make them feel better today?  Why wait for tomorrow?  Wisdom is also the ability to hear the voice of God.  Are there lonely people that the Holy Spirit is prompting us to call? James 4:17 goes as far saying, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Since we are Christians, we live not for ourselves but for our God; our purpose is to do those things that God wants us to do.  Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”  It is never about us; it’s always about Jesus. The things we do will testify to the world that Christ is real and is alive in us.  Let us strive to do good to whom it is due.  This means begin within our own families at home; reach out to our church family, and then to others as we see the need. The essence of the verse above is that we must not postpone doing good deeds. 

 

If we study the life of Jesus, we will find that He never deferred or rescheduled miracles; When He could, Jesus seized every opportunity to show the love, power and grace of God. In John 9:4 Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” 

 

I pray for the wisdom of God to help us act in moments when we have an opportunity and the power to make a difference.

In Mission with Vision,

Rev. Jerome F. Kennedy PASTOR

 

September 2016


Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)

 

Dear Church Family,

 

     Imagine you lost your wallet and needed to buy gas in order to make it home. If you found a five-dollar bill in your pocket, would you give it away to someone on the street who asked you for money, trusting God to provide a way for you to get home? This illustration gives you some idea of how the widow may have felt.  The widow gave “all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). In other words, the widow made a sacrificial giving when she forfeited the money that would have bought food for the day. Her gift demonstrated amazing trust in God.

     Are you the kind of person who is generous in other areas of life but when it comes to the church you give sparingly?  Maybe you feel that giving liberally is a luxury you can’t afford.  Yet the most generous financial gift mentioned in Scripture had very little monetary value. Often called “the widow’s mite,” this small gift has inspired believers through the ages to give freely. Let’s look at the message conveyed by this sacrificial gift in Mark 12:41-44.  Those who were rich gave out of their abundance.  Jesus did not complain about how much the rich gave; he simply acknowledged that they gave.  What he called attention to was the true measure of the gift, which was a sacrifice. 

     Since Jesus saw the hearts of everyone, He knew many of these rich people weren’t committed to God (Mark 12:41). They carefully observed the external requirements of their faith, including tithing (see Luke 11:42). But their devotion to the Lord was almost non-existent. They gave to be praised by men. Jesus calls on Christians not to give to earn people’s admiration (Matt. 6:1-4).

     The widow gave “two small copper coins, which amount to a cent” (Mark 12:42). The King James version refers to them as “mites.” Although we can’t calculate their exact value in today’s money, we know these were the smallest coins used by the Jews at the time. This passage teaches that God considers the motivation, attitude, and financial condition of the giver when determining the gift’s value.

     When it comes to giving to the church and the mission of Christ, what should our attitude be? According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul wrote, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Does this describe your emotions with regard to giving? Do you give in response to God’s goodness and love, and in support of proclaiming the Gospel, or do you based on what’s left over after your expenses?

     Have you ever been completely without money for the things you needed on a particular day? How did that make you feel? Did you feel powerless and helpless?  Those who have an abundance usually spend it on themselves--better possessions, nicer vacations, or upgraded homes or cars. Or they may pay for more services and conveniences.  Those with financial shortages often resist giving to the Lord’s work or to those less fortunate. They cling to what little they have, fearing there won’t be enough if they give.  Do you see yourself as one who has an abundance of wealth (money and/or goods) or a shortage?

No matter which category you fall into, as a believer, you are called to be generous. Even the poor should give to the church and other people in need (Eph. 4:28). This is contrary to worldly wisdom, which says not to give if you have a shortfall. But poverty is not an excuse to hold back.  Jesus commended the widow for giving, though she had almost nothing. Each person should give in proportion to his or her income (1 Cor. 16:1-2).  Matthew Henry, an eighteenth century pastor, wrote, “When we can cheerfully provide for others, out of our own necessary provision . . . and trust God to provide for us some other way, this is thank-worthy.”

     As Christians, we are caretakers and managers not only of the earth but of the Gospel.  This requires deep commitment, which includes sacrificial financial giving, to keep the work of the church going.  We are expected to be charitable toward those who are less fortunate than we are.  We are also called upon to support the mission of Christ through the church and to do so in all the ways that we can.  Although this letter has focused on financial giving, we are called to be generous in every way—even when we feel weak and needy ourselves. We should extend things such as respect, time, expertise, comfort, material goods, and friendship. The Bible tells us that "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25 NIV). 

     We pray that God will show us how to use our resources to advance His Kingdom to the glory of Christ.

 

See you soon,

Pastor Jerome

August 2016

 

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

-Psalm 100:4

Dear Brothers/Sisters,

     When we gather to worship, we glorify, magnify, exult, and honor God who alone is worthy of our praise. The Psalmist encouraged us to enter the presence of God with “thanksgiving and praise.” In worship, we also celebrate the goodness of God and affirm our faith in our Redeemer. When a new day begins and we awake, our first act of personal worship must be to praise and thank God for a brand new day.

     On Sundays, we usually begin the divine community worship with a hymn of praise.  I thought it would also be wonderful to end with a congregational benediction using an uplifting chorus with the words, “Hold somebody, tell them that you love them; put your hands together and praise the Lord!”  We want all believers to leave the sanctuary feeling happy, positive, hopeful, and ready for the brand new week.  There is power in praise.

     Moving forward, we are delighted to begin a youth ministry.  Our young people are very special to God and to us; we want to hear from them and allow them to worship God in their own way.  We also want to be available to address the unique concerns they have.  Thanks to everyone for supporting this ministry.

     We invite everyone as we study the book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church.  We want to remain vibrant and relevant congregations as we explore ways to stay alive.  We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. Come join us.

 

Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service.  The highest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”  When we leave the sanctuary, we don’t leave the presence of God; we leave praising God to put our faith in action. 

 

 

Thanks for all the good ministry you do.

 

Have a blessed week.

Pastor Jerome

 

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28: 19-20 NKJV) 
 
 Dear Church Family,
 

Greetings to you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  We are excited about starting ministry with you.  Thank you for your warm reception and kind hospitality.  You have made me, my wife and our son feel at home already.  Serving Christ is a privilege and an opportunity, so we praise God for this partnership with you in carrying out the mission of Christ.  

There is an interesting story about John Wesley.  It is said that after Wesley died, he went to heaven; when he got to the gate of heaven, he met St. Peter who welcomed him.  Before entering through the gates, Wesley saw St. Peter holding the Book of Life.  Wesley was curious and asked St. Peter to look in the Book of Life and tell him how many Methodists made it into heaven.  Peter looked through the Book and said, “Sorry, Brother Wesley.  There are no Methodists in Heaven.”  Wesley was disappointed so he asked, “Can you check and see how many Anglicans there are in heaven?”  Peter checked again and shook his head.  “Sorry, no Anglicans.”  Wesley couldn’t believe it.  “What about Catholics?”  Peter checked and told Wesley, “There are no Catholics in heaven.”  Wesley was confused.  “So who do you have in Heaven?”  Peter smiled and said, “We have Christians.  Those who loved the Lord and were faithful until the end.”

What connects all of us within the Community of Faith is that we are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ.  We all make up the Body of Christ.  We are the eyes to see as Christ would, His arms to reach out as our Lord did; we are Christ’s legs and feet to go to the places he wants us to go and even the mouth of Christ to speak the words of life and tell the world of the Gospel.  Since we belong to Christ, we are a part of the Kingdom of God and God’s family.  God’s family is special because it includes people from around the world who speak different languages, and are from different tribes, races, and nations.  Since we are in Christ, we are all one family.  As you have welcomed us, you have welcomed Christ Himself as He said in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.” Also in Mark 9:41, Jesus said to the disciples, "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.”  Our goal is the same – to carry out the mission of Christ.  The Gospel we proclaim is one – The Good News of salvation.

We’re excited to continue this ministry of carrying out the Great Commission, which you have started, “to make disciples” for Jesus. Let us pray for one another and work together because we belong to the same team – Team Jesus!  Let me close with words from Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Galatians, chapter 6:9-10 when he wrote, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”


 
 
UpperRoom Daily Devotional
Choosing the Best
Thought for the Day
Chart how you've spent your time in the last week. What priorities does your chart reveal?
Powered by United Methodist Communications