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Summer Can Be a Refreshing Time!

Summer is a great time to renew and relax with family and friends… Since summer is now in our midst and many plans are made and being made. A question that is often asked these days is what are your plans for the summer?  Often we reply with our favorite place to chill and relax. However, our summers are a great time for fun and to recharge.

As important as it is to recharge our physical and emotional batteries we need to take time to recharge our “soul” or spiritual lives. As refreshing as a cool dip in a pool or a fresh glass of lemonade watching the young exciting Phillies play on a hot humid day! (Yes, they are fun to watch this year!) The words “soul quenching” came to mind.  A time when the depths of our spiritual lives are recharged, renewed made fresh transformed by the warmth of God presence deep within us.

As I was reading David’s familiar words from Psalm 23: vs 2-3 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

When we are renewed and refreshed in God in our quiet times, worship, reading God’s word, something spiritual can happen within us that is life changing. In the 23rd Psalm that’s what King David experienced as he shared with us there and in the other Psalms simply the refreshment of being in the presence of God. See, it was there that David recognized God’s deep love and care for him.

David’s experience reminds me of something I read recently… “Once God’s love changes you, it overflows and impacts your family, your church, and your community.”(Revive page 7) In these days that we live I find that the love of Jesus is our hope and solution to our greatest problems, the Prince of Peace for a war-torn world.  But he has chosen to work today through his people (1 Corinthians 12:27), to reveal himself as “the light of the world” (John 9:5) through us (Matthew 5:13).  Oswald Chambers: “The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my life daily. It is his patience, his love, his holiness, his faith, his purity, his godliness, that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul.” This has been my pray for our local church family and United Methodist Church as we face the future in allowing Christ love and light to shine.

How do we live out Jesus’ love today? “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are        being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).Behold the glory of the Lord today in worship, prayer, and intimate communion with your the Lord. Know that his Spirit will transform you into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).  You will then show the world Jesus’ compassion, mercy, and grace in yours.

Abraham Kuyper was a brilliant theologian who also served as prime minister of the Netherlands.  He observed: “No service in itself is small / none great, though earth it fill / But that is small that seeks its own / And great that does God’s will.” What a wonderful thing it is to be spiritually renewed.  May it be on all of our summer fun list this year!

Enjoy your summer… what a privilege it is to serve the Collingswood family and community!

 

One of My Favorite Months of the Year…

May is one my favorite months of the year. As I was looking at my calendar for May 2016,  I noticed there are at least three special days that we love to remember and celebrate during this month. Of course there is Mother’s Day, as we honor our Moms in many different ways. My favorite way is take mom to the Phillies game. Then there is Memorial Day when we honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to serve our country. The third day we remember is Pentecost which is the Birthday of the church. A time when after remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus now brings a celebration of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to us.

When you think about it, this is one of the least celebrated special days in our society today. However, the implications are without limits, as the Holy Spirit can reside within us to empower us, comfort us and guide us to live out the Christian life in a spirit-led adventure. Now that’s worth celebrating!

We see this in Acts chapter 2 when Peter who once wavered in his faith became a man that the Lord guided in some powerful ways. He went from living a tenuous life to a person fully committed to God after encountering the Holy Spirit in his life. He went from lacking full trust before his encounter with Jesus to bold faith after His encounter with God’s Holy Spirit within Him. As we celebrate Pentecost this year 2016, we too can experience the same presence of God to live a life of spiritual power and inner peace. I always look forward to study and share about the Holy Spirit especially at Pentecost!

In preparing for this journey I have been recently rereading a book entitled “The Hole In Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung. The hole in our holiness is that some people look at holiness all too often as the jimmies on an ice cream cone or extra toppings on our pizza. Or the optional things we can choose from like when we are buying a new car with many bells and whistles, while others look at holiness as some “unattainable other” that can never be experienced by real people. Throughout time the call to “be Holy for I am Holy” says the Lord is pretty clear! So how do we connect with a Holy God in a broken and fragmented world today?

Isaiah, a mighty follower of God, in the beginning of his ministry connected with God.
In fact he said “I saw the Lord”, at that moment he saw the amazing power of God, then himself in a new way. God cared for his soul, and then Isaiah responded to God to use his life. This all took place during one of those difficult times for both Isaiah and the people of his times, but the Lord took care of Isaiah and the people. Isaiah chose to live a holy life 2900 years ago in response to seeing the Lord. My prayer is that we would too as we journey together! Would you join me in the days ahead? There are many places we find in God’s Word that the Lord is calling us to a deeper loving relationship with Him and others.

Happy New Year 2016!

This is the time of year, many people look back and evaluate their life in the past year. It is also a great time to take a pause, and reflect how God has been with us during our journey. Many upon reflection make a decision to make some changes or some new resolutions like try lose weight, or exercise more, or get out of financial debt, or read the Bible through in a year, or have personal devotions every day, or spend ___ minutes in prayer every morning. Or even find new ways to express God’s unconditional love in difficult places.

Corrie Ten Boom in the book, Reflections of God’s Glory (page 69), wrote, “In Africa a man came to a meeting with bandaged hands. I asked him how he had been injured. He said, “My neighbor’s straw roof was on fire; I helped him to put it out and that’s how my hands were burned. “ Later I heard the whole story. The neighbor hated him and had set his roof on fire while his wife and children were asleep in the hut. They were in great danger. Fortunately, he was able to put out the fire in his house on time. But sparks flew over to the roof of the man who had set the house on fire and his house started to burn. There was no hate in the heart of this Christian; there was love for his enemy and he did everything he could to put out the fire in his neighbor’s house. Even to the extent of serious burns on his hands.”

As we look to 2016 a year of “GROWING DEEPER IN GOD’S LOVE” Jesus calls us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul & strength and to have a deep love for others that calls us to love our neighbor in new and transforming ways. Here are some questions that will guide us in this quest. Where is God’s love making a difference in my life, or in my family? Where are some places God’s love is making a difference in and through us here at FUMC? Our church’s mission statement is ” LOVING GOD… LOVING PEOPLE… CONNECTING WITH OUR NEIGHBORS… MAKING DISCIPLES FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR WORLD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST”. My heart’s prayer is asking God to show and guide me in new ways this coming year in His love! I’m not sure where that will take me but I’m willing to go on the journey of living in and out God’s amazing love, I hope you are too!

Join us for our new sermon series ‘Things We Treasure Series 2016’ as we look into Gods word to better help us reflect on our priorities so we might find fresh ways to love God and others as we begin this new year together!

In our Lord’s Love and Grace Pastor Sam