Monday, April 29, 2013

It Is All about God

But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.  And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
--MARK 3:7-12

Wherever Jesus went, his fame preceded him. He attracted hordes of people, eager to meet him. He was revered, even worshiped, as a healer and a miracle worker.

The scriptures tell of Jesus' power to exorcise demonic spirits. In the Markan account of Jesus' journey with his disciples to the sea, the unclean spirits that Jesus is exorcis­ing fall on their knees before Jesus and shout, "You are the son of God." Jesus sternly orders the unclean spirits not to make him known.

We might not understand his insistence on shunning the limelight, but Jesus' interest lies less in garnering atten­tion, recognition, and fame for himself than in focusing the spotlight on God.

How that differs from our egotistic human nature! Ours is an increasingly self-centered, narcissistic world. Corpo­rate greed, an increasing disparity between wealthy and poor, those with privilege and those on the margins of life are just a few signs of a "me first" attitude. The slogan of the moment for far too many is "It's all about me!"

In stark contrast, Jesus shuns center-stage attention. He prefers to focus our attention and our praise beyond him­self to God. Jesus demonstrates that though he is the Son of God, it is not all about him! Jesus steps outside the spotlight of fame and attention in order to point to the almighty and all-loving power of God so others will see the divine glory through Jesus' life and ministry.

Likewise, we offer our lives in service and ministry with deep gratitude to God for life and in profound thanksgiving for the grace and love of Jesus Christ. It's not about us; it is all about the power and love of God!

Gracious God, may all my words, actions, and good works today bring glory not to me but to you. Amen.

--Robert T. Hoshibata, Heal, Dakotas Ann Conf.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crossing to the Other Side

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

MARK 4: 35 - 41

Today's text invites all the disciples of Jesus Christ, those of the first century as well as those of the centuries that followed, to travel with their Savior to the other side of what they consider to be their sea. After a busy day of healing and teaching among the crowds, Jesus instructs his disciples to go to the other side of the lake. These verses convey rich lessons about mission, the faith of disciples, Jesus' divine authority, and the submission of natural and evil forces. 
  • Discipleship and mission. Gentiles inhabit the eastern side of the lake. Jesus takes his disciples to bring the good news of God's kingdom to these people. To be disciples of Jesus Christ requires a readiness to embark on unfa­miliar, new ground every time the Lord sends us. 
  • Discipleship and the faith of disciples. Facing the danger of a furious squall, the disciples grow fearful. They waken Jesus from his deserved rest, implying his indifference to their situation: "Teacher, don't you care if we drown!" (RSV). For those disciples and for us today, it is one thing to remember that Jesus is in our midst; it is another to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the mas­ter of all circumstances.
  • Discipleship and Jesus' authority. By divine power Jesus rebukes the winds and waves in the same way he has rebuked evil spirits in people. Agitation, violence, and disorder may signal a lack of authentic and true author­ity. But where Christ is acknowledged as alive in the midst of his disciples, there is hope for silence and authentic peace. 
Lord, we thank you for bringing us together as delegates from across the world. Be present in our midst in our times. Strengthen our faith that we may make disciples for the transformation of our troubled world. Amen.\

-David K. Yemba, Embark, Dakotas Ann Conf.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, April 15, 2013

How much should we give?

Giving is…to be consistent... “Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping.  Be as generous as you can.”  (1 Cor. 16:2  The Message)

The church Annette attends paid its bills in full last year using the usual end-of-the year crisis call for money.  After celebrating a sense of relief that all commitments were made in full some people started asking, “How much should we give, anyway?”  Others pointed out that they wanted to give more last year but the plea for money came at a bad time.  They said, “If we had known about this all year, we could have started saving earlier.” 

As chair of the Church Council, Annette suggested they turn to the story of how Paul encouraged the Corinthians to make offerings to assist those in need by giving generously and regularly, setting something aside week by week.  She said, “If you’re seriously wondering how much to give, consider starting at 3% of your net income.  If you’re above that but below tithing, ask God in prayer what might be an amount that will invite you to sacrifice, yet give you joy as you consider the lives that will be changed.” 

The tithe was established so that all the people might know the abundance of God’s love.   As United Methodists, we tend to average giving only about 1% of our income.   Imagine the variety of ways we could be in mission and ministry if we could average giving 3%, 5%, 7% or even a full 10% tithe! 

No matter how much we are called to give to the church, it is always easier in the end if we put God first and write those checks as the first check of every pay period.  Whether it’s 3%, 5%, 10% or more, choose an amount that helps you to grow in faith through sacrifice and joy – remembering that in giving away up to 10%, we still have 90% or more to meet our obligations, wants and needs!

Seven Ways of Giving

FirstThe Careless Way: To give something to every cause that is presented, without inquiring into its merits.

SecondThe Impulsive Way: To give from impulse – as much and as often as love and piety and sensibility prompt.

ThirdThe Lazy Way: To make a special offer to earn money for benevolent objects by fairs, festivals, etc.

FourthThe Self-denying Way: To save the cost of luxuries and apply them to purposes of religion and charity.  This may lead to asceticism [severity] and self-complacence [self-righteousness].

FifthThe Systematic Way: To lay aside as an offering to God a definite portion of our gains – one-tenth, one-fifth, one-third, or one-half.   This is adapted to all, whether rich or poor, and gifts would be largely increased if it were generally practiced. 
(1 Cor. 16:2)

SixthThe Equal Way: To give God and the needy just as much as we spend on ourselves, balancing all our personal expenditures by our gifts.

SeventhThe Heroic Way: To limit our own expenditures to a certain sum and give away all the rest of our income.   This was John Wesley’s way.  

---Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation

God Is Still In Control

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, April 8, 2013

What is our attitude today?

I has been a week since we celebrated Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus. We sang, "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose victorious from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign.”

That was last week. Where are we and what is our attitude today?
Last week we remembered how the stone was rolled away from the tomb and Jesus, who died just a couple of days before, was alive again.
As we joined in worship Sunday, we listened to the story of the Resurrection of Jesus that has been told for over 20 centuries. We are among the multitudes of people who have believed what the angel said to the women when they came to Jesus’ grave early on that Sunday morning: “He isn't here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said.” We remembered that account and celebrated that fact.
That was last week. Where are we and what is our attitude today?
On the morning of Jesus’ resurrection when Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb was open, she went to tell Peter and one of the other disciples. When they heard the news they ran to the tomb and found it empty just as they had been told. After seeing the evidence, they believed and then went back home.

Later that day Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had had seen and talked with Jesus. She related the entire conversation between her and Jesus.

You would think that Jesus’ closest followers would have been ecstatic over this news. The one whom they had loved and revered was not dead; he was alive! On the contrary, the next report is that they were fearful and had gathered together and locked all the doors in the house.

Last week we celebrated the Resurrection. Where are we and what is our attitude today?

One can easily understand how fear could prevail over those early disciples. They did not have the benefit of looking through the lenses of centuries of history. They had seen their leader cruelly mocked and brutally slain. Would they be next? Was their life in danger? 

We have the advantage of reflection. We can look back and see the effect of the Crucifixion and Resurrection on humankind. We know from experience that Jesus is alive. He said that although he was returning to his Father in Heaven, he would always be with us. 

Jesus said, "I was dead, but now I am alive again. Because I live, you shall live also."

Last week was Easter Sunday but for the followers of the Risen Christ every day is a new beginning--a resurrection. May our live witness to that reality--in word and deed.

--Jamie Jenkins, North GA Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Friday, April 5, 2013

Churches should stop begging, start telling their story

Rev. Clif Christopher (center), author of “Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate,” believes most churches ask for money in completely the wrong way.

Instead of showing the value of donating to the church’s ministry, they give a “doom and gloom” picture of the budget and even how close the church is to closing the doors for good.

That’s all wrong, according to Christopher.

“If you expect success, you must answer the question, ‘Why do you deserve the support you’re asking people to give you?’”

He said non-profits—not churches—have identified the correct way to elicit donations.

“People want to see evidence. Where are the lives that are being changed? Non-profits communicate how they’re changing lives over and over again,” Christopher said.

Non-profits are dependent on people choosing to give money, so the non-profits can do their missions.

“They craft everything around why people choose to give,” he said.

The cover stories in their newsletters are usually about how a specific person’s life was changed.

“They’re telling you a story that, when you read it, makes you feel, ‘By golly, I gave my money, and something was done.’”

Christopher said the number one reason people give is that they believe in the institution. They believe it is a place that’s changing lives. It’s a place where they want to give. If they don’t believe in it, they don’t give anymore. They’re choosing to give where they see an impact being made, where they’re changing lives.

Read More>>

--by Susan Cooper, Kansas communications associate director

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Thursday, April 4, 2013


As children of God, we tend to seek perfection. I have changed my mind about seeking to be perfect. I think I would rather have some “cracks” and be somewhat imperfect. Normally we might think of cracks as something to avoid. You probably remember the childhood saying, “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.” Cracks are not desirable in many objects like sidewalks, dishes, walls, and many other places.

Something that I read recently made me consider the “cracks” in my life. I found the following words by Lenard Cohen when I read a Lenten devotional booklet from the Hennepin Avenue Church. “There is a crack in every thing / that is how the light gets in.” These words say to me that unless we have cracks or openings, we may be shutting things out of our lives. I think also of these words from the Gospel of John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

That is why imperfection is what I will choose and why I desire to have some cracks in my life. Another verse from 2 Corinthians also comes to mind, “…for whenever I am weak [and have cracks] then I am strong.” If I am perfect, how does the light of God shine in me? How do I become illumined through Christ?

Do you have cracks in your life?

--Ken Baumandistrict chaplain, MN Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer