Bismarck Calvary United Methodist
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
A United Methodist Congregation
THE SERMON GUIDE
The sermons for June & July 2016 will be:
"609 PRAYER CARD"
About a month ago I had an email question about our new prayer card. In essence the person was unsure about its purpose. “My question is what are we praying for? Please help me out.” Perhaps those reading this also have questions, so let me respond.
For any church to succeed in its mission of growing disciples for Jesus Christ that church must be a praying church, because that church must stay in constant contact with our leader and the only way to do that is to be in prayer with Him. More and more churches are making this realization and that is why our Bishop and the Dakotas Conference is making such an emphasis on churches growing through help from counseling with the MCCI and Journey Renewal programs. We at Calvary have not yet been welcomed into these programs but why wait when we can get started ourselves.
You see, the very first step in these programs is to get the church into a corporate prayer mode. I am not saying that people at Calvary are not praying, because I know that there are some very wonderful individual prayer warriors here but I have a sense that there is a large group that are not praying individually or corporately. Why do I say that? Let me explain where I get that feeling. First, we set up a prayer room many months ago where requests could be left but I believe only about three people have ever used the room or even checked it out. Second, our first ‘sticky note’ prayer request Sunday was an inspiration from the Spirit during the Lenten season with use of the large, rough lumber cross which we used one time with the young people during Vacation Bible School. This one occasion went very well but I was somewhat concerned with some of the very vague requests that I heard were on some of the sticky notes. So I decided to do it again the next Sunday. My suspicions that people did not really know what to ask for in prayer and that they did not really want to pray was confirmed. You see, a full one-third of the second Sunday’s ‘sticky notes’ never left the cross. Some of the 30-plus notes that remained on the cross had nothing written on them – apparently a fairly large group of people had no idea of what to request in prayer. So on the third Sunday, I asked someone from the church who knows almost everyone, to write the names of everyone in church that Sunday on a ‘sticky note’ and we handed those out so that everyone had a specific person to pray for during that week.
Well, it was after this that the Prayer Initiative was held in Jamestown and I asked for five people to attend the meeting with me, because I knew I needed ideas to get Calvary on the right track. What I was not aware of at the time was that this Prayer Initiative meeting is actually the first meeting that all churches in the MCCI or Journey Renewal programs must attend. It was a wonderful meeting with many great ideas. The five members who attended with me were equally inspired by the testimonies and the ideas that were shared.
It was from this meeting that I got the idea to circle the congregation in prayer and ask the Lord to make an impact upon the lives of the people within that circle. There is no doubt that we at Calvary are in need of renewal and revival. There are at least seventy-five percent of our people who are completely content to either just come to church occasionally (the CHEASTERS — Christmas & Easter) or to just come sit in the pew on Sunday morning and do nothing else (not even really talk to visitors to get to know them and welcome them). They think that by just coming to church services they have done their part – but I am afraid the Lord expects more (regardless of our age).
With all this in mind, the group of six that went to the Prayer Initiative in Jamestown got together and met to put into action at least one of the things we learned. It was felt that we as a congregation must begin to pray corporately for Calvary United Methodist Church. The best way to do that is to have us all pray the same prayer every day. That is why we came up with the 609 Prayer Card that we handed out. The card has two scripture passages which we are to pray – that is called scriptural praying – in that we are affirming what God has written in His Word and claiming it for ourselves. Then we are also praying together that the Lord will show us His way for our church to go forward. We are praying that God will use us all as His instruments to design what God wants to be the future of our church. We are praying that God will align our church with His purposes, and that if there are barriers which need to be broken in our lives in order for that to happen, that He will do it and that finally God will unify us all in heart and mind so that we function as the Body of Christ. In order to make this feel like and act like a corporate prayer we are asking everyone to pray at the same time – 609 am or pm or both. The 609 is the street address of Calvary United Methodist Church.
Of course, no one is limited to just the words on the card when we are praying. Please pray the card but then feel free to pray for whatever or whomever else the Lord brings to mind for that is what prayer is, a dialogue with God, so let the dialogue flow. We will also be doing more prayer ideas in the future.
Pastor Perry Schnabel
"Some Don't Pass the Test"
All of us are called upon to take the tests of life. Some of the tests are not very significant but others determine the destiny of our lives. Yet, even the smallest is important. Take the following stories for instance.
Arthur Gordon in "A Touch of Wonder" says, "Integrity means having the courage of your convictions. This includes the capacity to cling to what you think is right, to go it alone when necessary, and to speak out against what you know is wrong.
In the operating room of a great hospital a young nurse had her first day of full responsibility. 'You've removed eleven sponges, doctor,' she said to the surgeon. 'We used twelve.'
'I've removed them all,' the doctor declared. 'We'll close the incision now.'
'No,' the nurse objected. 'We used twelve.'
'I'll take the responsibility,' the surgeon said grimly, 'Suture!'
'You can't do that!' blazed the nurse. 'Think of the patient!'
The doctor smiled, lifted his foot, showed the nurse the twelfth sponge. 'You'll do,' he said. He had been testing her for integrity - - and she had it!"
While on the other hand, T. David Sustar tells us this story:
"Tears were streaming from the evangelist's eyes as the Spirit of God directed him toward three young men in the back row. The message that night had been on the 'The Horrors of Hell." The man of God had made a passionate plea, attempting to rescue any soul bound for that awful place.
As he approached the trio, he was about to ask them to please come to the Lord and confess their sins. Before he could utter a word, one of them smirked and said, "Huh, preacher, how far is it to hell, anyway?' The other two laughed and they all turned and exited quickly from the church.
The evangelist told me heard the squeal of the tires as they pulled out on the highway and sped away. His broken heart followed them as far as possible, hoping they would return. Others, however, did respond and a number of people were praying around the altar.
The prayer was soon interrupted by a state trooper's knock on the front door of the church. His question paralyzed the congregation. 'Do any of you know three young men?' and he went on to describe what they were wearing. The people responded that they did and wondered aloud why he asked.
The officer sadly unfolded the story. Just two and one-half miles down the road, at the big bend, their car had left the road and split in half around a large oak tree. The people hurried to their cars. When they arrived, they found three dead bodies lying beside the road. It was two and one-half miles to hell for those young men!
I suppose that none of us realize how close death is to us. It stalks our every step and waits around every corner. God's Word says it would be thus, "IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN ONCE TO DIE, BUT AFTER THIS THE JUDGEMENT" (Hebrews 9:27).
In reality, I suppose we're all just one breath away from judgment. At any moment, we could meet all the facts of our life, which will dictate where we spend eternity.
Isn't it great to know that sins forgiven will allow us to stand with joy before the judge of the universe, Jesus Christ?"
"This Year’s Commitment"
What is our commitment to the tasks of the Lord Jesus Christ in this year of 2016?
When an emergency medical technician arrives at the scene of an accident, he knows he may have only a few minutes to save a victim's life. He will waste none of those minutes in combing the patient's hair, brushing his clothes, or checking for marks of identification. He will move as swiftly as he can to the most critical wound and treat it with all of his skill.
Something similar is demanded of the minister in the pulpit. He has 20 to 30 minutes to bring life to someone within his hearing or in which to let him remain spiritually dead.
But what about those outside of the pulpit? Is their commitment as urgent to the task? There is a brother in Christ in Nigeria who is badly deformed; his legs are withered. Unable to walk or afford transportation, he crawls to the worship assemblies! In order to bring his Bible, he either balances it on his head or pushes it on the ground in front of him! Here is a man who knows the value of commitment to the Lord. When the saints assemble he is there!
Or how about the young man who had been accepted for the African mission field and reported to New York for his passage, but found on further examination, that his wife could not stand the climate. He was heartbroken, but he prayerfully returned to his home and determined to make all the money he could to be used in spreading the Kingdom of God over the world. His father, a dentist, had started to make on the side an unfermented wine for the communion service. The young man took the business over and developed it until it assumed vast proportions. His name was Welch, whose family still manufactures grape juice. He has given literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to the work of missions.
Think of ways you can serve God in 2016 despite your human frailties. God wants our willing hearts!
"STAFF/PASTOR PARISH RELATIONS COMMITTEE"
This committee has requested that I inform the congregation of Calvary as to just what their responsibilities are. So I turned to the “Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church” for the complete answer. It comes from paragraph 258.
First, everyone on this committee is to be a professing member of the local church. This section first addresses the character and habits of committee members. It says, “People serving on this committee must be engaged in and be attentive to their Christian spiritual development as to give proper leadership in the responsibilities with which the committee is entrusted”. A booklet on this subject suggests that this means, “S/PPRC members should be Christian spiritual leaders who demonstrate regular worship attendance, small group participation, Bible study, and regular generous giving. These practices are essential for committee members to bring integrity to the leadership of this ministry.”
The committee’s duties are spelled out over three plus pages in the “Discipline”. I share their duties here in an abbreviated form:
What is happening for youth at Calvary?
Sunday school is starting up again on Sunday, September 13, 2015 beginning at 9:15 am with a snack in Fellowship Hall. There will be singing, lessons, videos and maybe even hand bells, depending on the age group that each child is in. There are also plans for a Christmas Program, and visits to the Pumpkin Patch, Polar Patch, sledding, caroling and who knows what else. Do not miss out.
CAT (Children’s Activity Time) will also be back every second Sunday during the 10:30 am worship service in which the children will have their own time downstairs in the Fellowship Hall. They always have a lot of fun.
Calvary Computer Club will not have a class this fall, but the next class is going to begin in September 2016. Look forward to enrolling in this exciting program.
Confirmation Class is going to be put on the back burner until we can have a larger group of young people. Thus, the class will be scheduled for the fall of 2017 when we should be able to at least have a class of six to eight young people.
AWANA will begin again on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Supper will again be offered for the young people and leaders of AWANA beginning at 5:30 pm, come and join us. AWANA will then begin as usual at 6:00 pm. There will be a few changes in the program as well as helpers this year and so we are looking forward to another great year. If you would like to help out with AWANA in any way, please contact Pastor or Beckie Dronen. We will have an AWANA training session for ALL LEADERS on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm. See you then.Pastor’s Note: I will also be teaching a Sunday school class beginning on September 20, 2015 in the Sanctuary. The class will be guided by the book “The Call” by Adam Hamilton and covers the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. Sign up in the church entry if you would like to have a book for this class (book in not required to attend).
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?
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: