Bismarck Calvary United Methodist
Monday, August 31, 2015
A United Methodist Congregation
THE SERMON GUIDE
The sermons for July/August 2015 will be:
July 5 - Independence Weekend, Pastor on Vacation
July 12 - "Godly Citizenship" Deuteronomy 8
July 19 - "Little, But with Love" Proverbs 15
July 26 - "A Passover Feast" 1 Corinthians 5 Communion
August 2 - "Better Than Mighty" Proverbs 16
August 9 - "Hearing Ear" Proverbs 18 & Nehemiah 8
August 16 - TBA
August 23 - "The Demonic Re-created" Mark 5
August 30 - "The Lord's Supper: A Mystery of Bread" John 6 Communion
September 6 - Labor Day Weekend - Mel Heupel Speaking
Personal integrity or character is a virtue that daily seems to be under attack. More and more people seem to lay it aside in order to attain some personal advantage (either real or perceived). A survey by the Ethics Officers Association and the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters and Chartered Financial Consultants revealed that (48) forty-eight percent of American workers admit to taking unethical or illegal actions in the past year. USA TODAY listed the five most common types of unethical/illegal behavior that workers say that have engaged in because of pressure:
*Cut corners on quality control
*Covered up incidents
*Abused or lied about sick days
*Lied to or deceived customers
*Put inappropriate pressure on others.
Just how close to home does this kind of thing come? We are no different than any other community - for this lack of character and personal integrity can be found here as well. Oh, we tell ourselves that the infractions are small like getting a bulletin from another church while out of town to keep our perfect attendance for Sunday School, but once we have the bulletin we don't need to stay for the whole service.
But small infractions always lead to great things. Take, for instance, the report in US TODAY that says that scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic. The opulent, 900-foot cruise ship sank in 1912 on its first voyage from England to New York. Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time. The most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner. But an international team of divers and scientists recently used sound waves to probe the wreckage, buried in the mud under two-and-a-half miles of water. Their discovery? The damage was surprisingly small. Instead of the huge gash, they found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds. Small damage, invisible to most, can sink not only a ship but a great reputation.
Proverbs 10:9 says, "He who walks in integrity walks securely, but, he who perverts his ways will be found out." It is true, just like six small slits sunk the Titanic so will the small things we do eventually be found out. Oh, it seems that some people can get away with it forever. I personally get so frustrated when I see individuals fooling most of the people in their lives. But they will not fool the Lord. Some day they will be found out - I pray that it not be too late for them to rectify the damage.
Andrew Entwistle, a captain in the U.S. Army, said, "Integrity is like virginity - once you lose it, it's gone for good..." What he said is true. Once integrity is gone you will have to live with the consequences of that the rest of your life. But what he didn't say, is that in Jesus Christ our integrity can once again be restored. Jesus is forgiving, and our sins can be washed away and buried forever. But, people are usually not divine in their forgiveness. To them, our restored integrity will have to be proved over time. So let us guard our integrity and be fully aware that there are those around us who seek to deceive.
Graduation exercises have now passed us by. It is always exciting to have finished one accomplishment and looking forward to another. But, just what is the direction to now take can be a most trying decision.
One Sunday a preacher told how, sitting in his garden, he had watched a caterpillar climb a painted stick that was for decoration. After reaching the top, the caterpillar reared itself, feeling this way and that for a juicy twig to feed on, or some way to further progress. Finding nothing, it slowly returned to the ground, crawled along till it reached another painted stick, and did the same thing all over again. This happened several times.
The preacher said: "There are many painted sticks in the world - those of pleasure, wealth, power, fame. All these call to man and say, 'Climb me to find the desire of your heart, fulfill the purpose of your existence, taste the fruit of success, and find satisfaction, but they are only painted sticks'."
Solomon tried to find the purpose of his life in the world's painted sticks. He gave his heart to seek wisdom, but learned that it was "vanity and vexation of spirit" (Ecclesiastes 1:15).
He then turned to the pleasures of the world for meaning in life. He built great houses, gardens, and pools. He had servants and maidens; in fact, all that a man could desire. Solomon's comment on pleasure as a true source of happiness, however, was, "all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
After trying all that the world could offer, Solomon's final decision was, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
This came oh so clear some years ago to a young graduate who reported to a law office for training or apprenticeship. The senior lawyer who hired him quickly indoctrinated him in the office routine. Then the young lawyer sat at his desk and carried on this conversation with himself:
"What are you going to do when you finish your apprenticeship?"
"Hang out my shingle and practice law, of course!"
"Why, make a lot of money!"
"When I get rich I shall retire."
"Well, I'll die."
His whole body trembling, Charles G. Finney rushed out of the office and ran to a park some few hundred yards distant. He remained there in prayer, vowing that he would not return to his office or to his room until he had settled his life's work. He saw himself as he was - selfish, ambitious, and sinful. And he gave himself to the Lord for Him to use. Leaving the park, Finney stepped forth, in faith in God, to a life of usefulness rarely paralleled in the last two centuries.
Are you in the days ahead going to be chasing "Painted Sticks?" Or will you find something much more beneficial to do with your life?
(Charles Finney (1792–1875) was an American Presbyterian minister and leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States.)
MORE PASTOR's MUSING
Did you consider the church membership responsibilities and expectations from Adam Hamilton’s book, “Leading Beyond the Walls” that I shared last month? Let me refresh your memory:
“1) Attend worship every weekend unless you are sick or out of town (members who travel out of town are encouraged to attend services in the location they are visiting).
2) Participate in at least one activity each year aimed at helping you grow in your faith apart from worship attendance (Sunday school, Bible study, retreats or other short-term classes we offer).
3) Give your time in Christian service at least once each year through the ministry of the church.
4) Give financially in proportion to your income with the goal of tithing.”
In this book Adam asked another very important question, “To Whom Does Our Church Belong”? He says that until we get the answer right we will always struggle as a church.
It may surprise you to learn that the church does not belong to the bishop, the denomination, the pastor, the church staff, the lay leadership or even the trustees. The church does not even belong to the church members. In fact, Adam says the church belongs to Jesus Christ – He is it’s owner.
Since Jesus is the owner we need to do things that Jesus wants us to do and that obviously is “seek out and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). In order for us to know what that means for us as a church means that we must seek out Christ in prayer, in fact, everything we do as a church must be surrounded by prayer in order that we may be fulfilling God’s will for us as a church. If every member of our church followed through with prayer, we would have a church with strong vital signs. Are we not only ready to be the member that God wants us to be but also have a passion to do what Jesus wants us to do?
How often do we recognize God at work? It should be an everyday occurrence, but many times it probably is not. It happens in every day affairs.
Some men were once repairing high-tension lines after a storm. The new poles they were using were "green" and thus able to conduct electricity.
While working in the rain, they hoisted such a support where it could be dropped into the hole dug for it. Trying to be helpful, one man thoughtlessly seized the end in order to guide it.
Suddenly one of the workers made a run for him and knocked him sprawling. He arose from the sloppy street - muddy and ready for a fight. But his attacker pointed aloft to where the damp wooden shaft had contacted the power line carrying 33,000 volts of electricity.
Said the rescued man, "Had my friend not taken such quick action I would have been a goner. Yes, Slim saved my life, but he had to knock me over to do it."
So too, the Lord often has to strike down sinners, as He did Saul, to get them to listen to His voice. Has God been working in your life, even having to go to the point of some rough treatment in order to get your attention?
Of course, God also works through other people to accomplish the necessary in our lives.
There is an old Sufi story about a blind man and a crippled man who stumbled into each other in a forest.
They were both lost, and they struck up a conversation sharing their sad stories.
The blind man said, "I cannot see to find my way out."
The crippled man nodded and responded, "I cannot get up to walk out."
As they sat there sadly talking, the crippled man cried out, "I've got it! You hoist me up onto your shoulders and I will tell you where to walk." Together, they found their way out of the forest.
"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'.... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (I Corinthians 12:26-27).
All of us are like the two men in the forest. We need help from time to time. The pressures of the world, the discouragements of life, and the sin that entangles get us down. We struggle to find out way back to the light - back to the right way. We need help! That's why God gives us a church family. Each of us has a gift to share to build up the body of Christ. Each of us can offer an encouraging work to a discouraged or struggling member. Each of us can live our faith as a witness to the world. I can't do it myself. You can't do it by yourself. But, together, we can make a difference!
The Lord still needs your gifts! Yes, there are things that need to be done here at Calvary.
We have all of the following positions immediately available for anyone to carry out ministry for the Lord here at Calvary United Methodist Church:
Ø Church Offering Counters - Call the office.
Ø Prayer Partners – Just come to the Prayer Room on Sunday before church.
Ø Christian Education Coordinator & Assistant Christian Education Coordinator & Teachers for 3 year-olds to 5th grade. Without these there will be no Sunday school for children. Please contact the church office.
Ø AWANA leaders and listeners are needed. Please contact the church office, Pastor or Beckie Dronen, our Commander.
Ø Worship Leaders and Worship Team Members to help out in the services.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of what we need to make an impact for our Lord in our community through our church. Is the Lord calling you?
The Dakotas Conference this year sparked a lot of thought like, do I want to lead a dying congregation or a vital and growing congregation? Well, of course, the latter but that means things are going to have to change because anything growing changes constantly. To stay the same is to die a slow death.
With this in mind, I have been reading our main speaker’s book, “Leading Beyond the Walls”. It has some very interesting concepts. I would like to share a couple.
For one thing, to grow as a church he says that we need to pay close attention to the little things. A visitor begins to form impressions of us before they even get out of the car as they view the appearance of our church, the grounds, the signs and even the availability of visitor parking close to the entrance. Cheerful and caring greeters and ushers are also a vital necessity to make sure visitors are welcomed and know where to go as they enter the building. Is everything clearly marked? The narthex needs to be appealing and have a special information station (even better if it is manned). The entry should be appealing and bathrooms neat and clean. Above all, are paint, carpet and walls in good condition and is everything well lit and cheerful?
Second, I find his ideas on church membership intriguing. He says that church membership comes with responsibilities and expectations. He says the first expectation is that once someone becomes a member they are no longer allowed to park near the church or in visitor parking, but leave those spaces for visitors. He says that like marriage, membership is a sign of commitment. What does that mean? It means fulfilling the membership vows we take as Methodists “to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness”. That means that as a member of the church we make the following commitment: