Archive for May, 2012

 

 

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Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

 

 

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

The View from Here

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
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“Exclamation Points of Joy” – May 16, 2012

 

My mother died nearly two years ago, and since then we have moved my father twice into a retirement center and now into assisted living in the retirement center. All of that has caused us to sort through my mother’s things. We have made a delightful discovery that none of us kids nor my dad knew: Mother kept a personal journal of every family vacation and every trip where she accompanied Dad on business trips. Those journals are very precious, because they help us to know what Mother was feeling and experiencing.

 

Here is the thing about those journals: they are filled with exclamation points!!!! Nearly every day of every trip she found something to exclaim about with joy, such as: The airplane was really big!!! The food was delicious!!!! The scenery for the drive was gorgeous!!!” On and on it goes, her journals are filled with what I would call “exclamation points of joy.”

 

That tells you a lot about my mother, and it also tells you a lot about how the Christian life is meant to be lived. Along our journey with Jesus, we can expect to find “Exclamation Points of Joy” nearly every step of the way. Is the journey with Jesus also filled with challenges and tough times? Of course! But the journey is worth it, simply because we are traveling with Jesus.

 

So, here is my prayer for you today: As you follow Jesus this day, this week, this month, this year, and this lifetime, may you find many Exclamation Points of Joy along the trip!!!!

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

The View from Here

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 | By John Meunier
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To serve the present age

John Meunier

John Wesley wrote these words in a letter once: “I am not careful for what may be a hundred years hence. He who governed the world before I was born, shall take care of it likewise when I am dead. My part is to improve the present moment.”

These words came back to me as I have been contemplating the work of the United Methodist General Conference taking place in Tampa. It seems so much of the General Conference is taken up with matters of history and concern for the future. More than once I have heard people speak about saving the UMC and raising questions about whether it will still exist in 50 or 100 years.

I find myself confronting such questions in the little church I serve as well. It is on the small end of tiny with a rather high average age. It, too, spends a lot of time remembering the past and worrying about the future.

But I take John Wesley’s counsel to be very similar to that of Jesus Christ. Do not worry about tomorrow. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

And so, I find myself asking what I am doing to improve the present moment. What will I do today to advance good and arrest evil? What way will I nurture by spirit and my body so they might be strong enough to serve the kingdom?

As a church, might we ask the same questions. As a denomination?

It reminds me of the words of that other famous Wesley:

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall for ever die.

The View from Here

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 | By Joy Moore
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GC 2012 Has a long way to goJoy Moore

The opportunity to gather every four years with those who fellowship as United Methodists is a great privilege. I am reminded of our vibrant connectionalism as I reconnect with friends and colleagues I have met over the past years at various denominational events. During the morning break, I was able to greet again Bishop Judith Craig, who ordained me in the West Michigan Conference in 1991. The day before I saw one of my former students and learned he has been appointed to be a superintendent. My current students have been surprised to see former pastors from their Field Education placements, or international delegates they met on mission opportunities. It doesn’t take long to meet many within the Methodist family, and the reunion is a glimpse of the reconciliation Jesus offers us.

The opening service of worship illuminated our diversity through its style, participation, and language. From the opening hymn written by Charles Wesley, to new choruses written especially for this gathering, our music ranges from traditional to contemporary. Whether drawn together by a Native American ritual or an African drum, the sounds of United Methodism move across time and continent.

Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go to demonstrate to the world how we love one another. Immediately after Bishop Larry Goodpastor’s sermon about following Jesus, the voting members of General Conference, in tweaking and failed votes to adopt the Rules of Order for these proceedings, exposed our deep mistrust and misgivings about how we will work together. Much of our deliberations quickly move to debate.

So much of the activity at General Conference is reworking, rewriting, and restating the language exchanged among and by United Methodists. As careful as we are to set the rules, we seem careless in our willingness to follow the guidelines once they exist. This is evident in more than ordering our process. The extravagant worship experience bears little resemblance to a service moving from gathering the dispersed members of our community together into the presence of the God who scatters us in service. Very few of our words serve as a reminder of our shared heritage as the people of the God revealed in Jesus Christ empowered by the Spirit. Very little of the time set aside for corporate worship of God, rehearses the story of God’s faithful activity to reconcile the world as demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus. Mirroring the culture at large, the service highlights our race, gender, age, ethnicity and culture. We are indeed a diverse assembly. But what is it we share that testifies to our unity, saying the Lord’s prayer notwithstanding.

Unlike the multinational multicultural gathering described as Pentecost in Christian Scripture, our diverse tongues fail to declare the works of God. We express pain, brokenness, and desire. We pledge to be different, we long to be better, but God rarely gets a sentence with a strong verb describing divine justice reconciling the world. If God shows up at all in our litany of prayers and songs, rarely is there a rehearsal of God’s action in a dramatic way that would cause someone to pause in reverence and gratitude. The biblical narrative is insignificant; ancient Israel absent; our hope in what God is doing in Christ to reconcile the world abandoned for Pelagian promises.

Evidently designed by committee, the ordering of worship has the feel of hearing an iPod playlist randomly shuffle from Bach to Beyonce by way of a Burger King commercial. While our efforts to include as many cultural and ethnic expressions is admirable, what is extraordinary about gathering as a community is the common unity of a shared testimony. Our shared testimony seems to be a litany of lament and longing . Where is the Christian witness to the Triune God that testifies to a hope that God transforms us and the world? Where is the testimony to the presence of God’s reconciling power that convinces a watching world that said God still intends justice and truth to prevail? Where is the good news that God’s faithful activity in the world is trust-worthy because of what God has done in the past?

We know so little of the biblical witness to God, most do not recognize that this testimony is even absent in our worship. We speak of the effects of encountering God rather than of God reconciling creation. We ignore the words of Scripture which challenge the people of faith to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before God. God is not sought for being God, but for what we demand be done in the name of God.

In these quadrennial gatherings, much is revealed in the ways we worship. Our words name who and what is important for us; what drives our lives; what we seek and long for. Would that first we humbly seek God. If we believe Jesus promise to be with us always, maybe we can trust the Holy Spirit continues to sustain even the United Methodist Church. That would be a first step toward transformation in the world. Then all these other things will be added. Written by Joy Moore

UMC General Conference website