Monday, August 17, 2015

Ministry Moment: Baby Bottle Boomerang - Trinity UMC, August 16, 2015


Ministry Moment: Baby Bottle Boomerang - Trinity UMC, August 16, 2015

Good morning.  I am Keith Howell.  My wife April and I have been involved with the Pregnancy Center for quite a number of years, as many of you may know. 

The Pregnancy Center ministers to young women who struggled with an unplanned pregnancy in a culture that promotes abortion as the only choice. 

They also provide some clothing, diapers, and other necessities once the child arrives. 

Baby Bottle Boomerang is a fundraiser where churches all across Floyd County distribute empty baby bottles on Mothers Day in May.  You fill them up with your spare change (or a check) and return them to the church on Father’s Day in June. 

The first year, 2013, Trinity raised $1,648.99 and was number three of all of the churches participating –

This year you gave over $2,400.00!  The total raised from all churches this year is over $28,000!

This year Trinity again is solidly in the top three churches in Baby Bottle Boomerang donations!  We may be number one!  The other two being St Mary’s and First Pres. 

I know that the Kingdom of God is not competitive - BUT -  that tells me something – it tells me that we beat the Baptists!   (I say that with all the love in my heart.)

In fact, when I picked up the empty bottles after church last week, two ladies stopped me in the foyer to take an additional three bottles home to fill! 

So on behalf of Gail Silver and Yvonne Miller of the Pregnancy Center, I thank you. 

And April and I thank God for you.  We thank Him for your kindness, and your willingness to yield to His Spirit!  We praise Him to be in a congregation with James 1:27 people with Matthew 25:40 hearts.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Being Salt and Light in the Defense of Freedom. Antioch Baptist Church July 5, 2015

Good Morning, it is always an honor to be with you. 

Last time that we were together, we talked about the heritage we have to pass on to future generations.  This morning let’s read from a portion of “The Sermon on the Mount” and discuss preserving heritage, the faith, and being a light to the world. 

Matthew 5:13-16
Salt and Light
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

PRAYER – Dear Lord, Mighty and Wonderful God, Father:

So here we are the Fourth of July weekend.  I am sure that we all either had a cook out between rain showers – rain that we needed.  Fireworks – they were pretty loud at our house!  This is how Americans celebrate our independence from tyranny.  Where a foreign power once ruled, now there is freedom.  Our flag is a symbol of our freedom. 
So please allow me to start with a story about flags:
Ed Parker, a Marine Corp veteran and member of the Jake Puryear Chapter of Marine Corp League here in Rome, some of you may know him, he told me a pretty funny story a while back. 

The Marine Corp League used to put American flags along the bypass on patriotic holidays – I am not certain if they still do.  And someone was stealing a few of these flags at night. 

So the league met with the Police concerning the flag thievery.  And at this meeting my friend Ed jokingly told the police chief “We can have some our sniper veterans stake out certain trouble spots and pick off anyone trying to steal a flag.”  The police chief responded “Ed, you call me when that happens so that I can send someone to investigate the suicide.” 

I tell that story because it illustrates our love for the American Flag, and for America.  

If you go buy a US Flag, it will likely have a “Respect the Flag” message printed on the box.  Those “Respect the Flag” rules are written because Americans hold our flag to be sacred.  Not so much sacred in and of itself, but instead what it represents.  The flag represents the best virtues of our national character: our desire to balance justice and mercy.  Virtues rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. 
Just as Americans hold the flag to be sacred; likewise, we are to hold our persons to be sacred in our thoughts and our behavior.  We know that we are not sacred in and of ourselves, but it is because the One that we represent is.  As the prophet Isaiah said from God: “Be thou Holy for I am Holy”. 

When bought our new flag this year, I read the words on the box: “Respect the Flag.  No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America.  The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.” 

Let the same be said of our faith.  Christ should always be respected first in our lives.  Our allegiance to Christ must never take a back seat to any person or thing. 

But most remember that as our flag is the symbol of freedom.  So must we be the same concerning the faith.  Wherever you see the Stars and Stripes you know that wherever there was once tyranny, there now is freedom. 

And make no mistake: All earthly freedom is derived from Jesus Christ and His Cross. 

Our founders knew this. That is why the principle freedom in our constitution is the freedom of speech; that is, the freedom to worship our Heavenly Father in the manner that His Spirit leads us. 

For if mankind is to live free, then he must have the right to freely worship God. 

That Freedom is what makes our flag worth fighting for.  It is a freedom is worth dying for. 

And This FREEDOM must be EXERCISED if it is to be MAINTAINED.  THE LORD WILL HOLD US TO ACCOUNT FOR OUR STEWARDSHIP OF THIS FREEDOM. 

For example, our flag still flies in Germany and in Japan, not as the flag of conquerors, but as liberators.  They were once our bitter enemies, now our better allies.

Likewise so must it be with me and with you.  We were once bitter enemies with God – but now closely allied in His cause, for Christ is not our conqueror but our liberator! – We are allied with His will to expand the Gospel so that more people will know of His love and the freedom that it brings.  

That is what it means to be Salt and Light.  To live in such a way that when the world sees us, they see where once the tyranny of sin reigned in our lives, they now see that we have freedom from sin in Jesus Christ.  We should live lives that are truly transformed to His likeness so that when the world sees anyone one of us, they see Jesus.  Who knows that you may be the only Jesus someone sees in a lifetime. 

You see, just as the US Flag is the symbol of America’s virtues - likewise we are called to be the living symbols of the virtues of Christ Jesus – to be Salt and Light.

Let’s look at being SALT:
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He provided a bridge between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of the Resurrection. 
Matthew 5:13 - Salt
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, that is to say LOSE YOUR CREDIBILITY AS A CHRISTIAN,
Or put it another way: LOSE YOUR WITNESS - How can it be made salty again? 
How are you going to gain it back?  Who would believe you? 

It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Your value of your witness is lost to the Kingdom of Heaven.  You will be MOCKED and called a hypocrite, a Karaoke Christian or Christian in name only. 

The next time you see someone on TV stomp on an American flag – ask yourself if the same is happening to your Christian witness.  But there are those who see our flag and feel that the promise is not there for them. 

They feel that what America once was may never have really been.  And they have no problem stomping on the flag for that reason.  For them, and a growing number like them, they no longer see freedom but hypocrisy.  The same is true when we claim Christ and live volitionally in perpetual sin.  It confuses those who don’t know the Lord. 

And yet we wonder why we have so little influence in our nation today.  We will be held to account for this foolishness. 

Remember that we have a higher calling to be unique among our people!  Be salty!

Now let’s look at being LIGHT
Matthew 5:14-16
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
WE ARE CALLED LIGHT, SET APART, HOLY (1 Peter 1:16).  True Christian light cannot be hidden.  I believe that God made the US free so that our churches would spread the Gospel around the globe.  We must exercise our freedom in order to maintain it by being light in a dark world. 

15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
We should LIVE OUR FAITH for the benefit of those around us.  Notice that “it gives light to everyone in the house”.  That means faith begins at home.  We are to live this life 24/7, at home, at work, at play.  Your children should have no confusion as to who you are in Christ.  

If you are truly following Christ, people will know it.  We should so order our lives in prayer and scripture so that the promise of God becomes evident in our very nature.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
We let our light shine in outside the home as well, bringing light to the world!  We should give to the needy, comfort those that suffer, and encourage those that struggle.  We should be excited to share their sorrows and our joy. 

When we live holy lives of SALT and LIGHT it brings GLORY to our Heavenly Father! 

Know that when you become light, it will illuminate corruption.  Be prepared.

So how does on one become “salt and light”?  Let’s look at Jesus said the verses prior to verse 13: 

They call this section the “Beautitudes” as a contraction of “Beautiful” and “attitudes” – Now I like that, don’t get me wrong - But I call this the “BE ATTITUDES” :  what we are supposed to BE.  Please allow me to paraphrase:

BE BLESSED BECAUSE

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those that are dependant on God – so depend solely on God, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, mourn their sins and the sins of others, your heart will be full. 

Blessed are the meek; so be humble, be gentle, for the world is yours.

Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they eagerly await the return of the Savior -

Blessed are merciful – for you will gain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart – for you will see God.   

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
Blessed are the persecuted . . .

The persecuted . . .

That brings up the question: “Are you willing to be Salt and Light”? 

Take notice of verses 10 through 12.  These verses are about COMMITMENT.  Jesus is putting us on notice that this isn’t going to be easy.  It is not going to be a cakewalk.  You are going to meet some resistance. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Notice in the verses that Jesus puts emphasis on Heaven: 

-       theirs is the kingdom OF HEAVEN
-       great is your reward IN HEAVEN

Even though we pledge allegiance to the US Flag, a Christian’s permanent citizenship is in HEAVEN.  BUT we in the church behave as if we have renounced our heavenly citizenship:

Do you know how to how to tell the difference between an American Christian and an American non-Christian. 

You can’t.  And that is the problem. 
Our primary focus is on the earth and not on Heaven.
We watch what the world watches. 
We listen to what the world has to say. 
We read what the world reads. 
We hold the same standards that the world holds. 
We pursue our personal comfort, our personal success, and our personal glory instead of God’s Will. 

We look to political leadership and nine people in black robes to solve our problems instead of going to God in prayer. 

For all outward appearances, we in the church are of the “nothing is sacred” world. 

It was GK Chesterton, early 20th century apologist who said:
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
G.K. Chesterton Whats Wrong with the World

The flag is sacred.  We are called to live sacred lives.  But we are living in times when little is held sacred at all.  Our children and grandchildren, barring a new great awakening, will have to face a world in which there will be incrementally less and less freedom as the years go by, because the church is stepping away from Jesus and the Cross bit by bit every day. 

Much of what we see now in the culture would have been inconceivable ten years ago. 

Before we go blaming the politicians, the media, and the misguided, we must realize that Christians, that would be me and you, need only look in the mirror of Matthew 5 to see the nation’s problem.  It is we ourselves.  It is the church. 

The church is the problem.  How can we expect the world to understand the value of moral certitudes when we do not live the example? 

The good news, however, is this: if the church is the problem, then it a revitalized and committed church is the answer! 

Let me close by saying this:
Like the flag is the symbol of America’s virtues, we are to be the living symbol of God’s love.  We are called to be set apart, sacred, to be HOLY. 

Just a few weeks ago, hatred walked into a church in South Carolina and gunned down nine of our brothers and sisters.  I wept when I heard the families of the slain forgive the assailant through tears and pain.  They set aside their own personal grief and anguish to follow God’s Will, giving glory to Christ in the process.  They obediently spoke the words though their hearts did not feel it yet.  They were actively being salt and light in a very, very dark place. 

Then the Saints of all races from across the country gathered in Charleston and around the country to mourn, to pray, and sing hymns to be salt and light . . . And the world was amazed that unlike other cities, Charleston did not burn. 

But evil would not tolerate all the attention focused on Christ being glorified by all His people.   So the world had to divide us by worn out distractions.  But that’s okay.  God calls us one by one through His people.  God doesn’t need the media for He is not like a distant celebrity that can be heard and viewed, yet not touched, not hearing.  Jesus wants a personal relationship, intimate, close and loving. 

Would you not want this in your life today?  That no matter what happens, that you will have a close personal intimacy with the One who made the stars?  To have fellowship with the One by whose stripes bring healing? 

Now that is freedom worth singing about! 

Let is be with all of us that our light so shine in glare of world events where there was once the TYRANNY of sin in our lives and now there is the FREEDOM of Christ in our hearts! 

Being Salt and Light:  The true freedom we exercise because it maintains our hope of Glory in Heaven. 

Remember, we serve a mighty and permanent God.  Unlike the world, we have hope.  Unlike the world, we have light.  Be that hope and light this week to the people around you. 


Let us pray. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stewardship Moment - Murphy Harpst Children's Home Trinity UMC March 22, 2015


Good morning.  My name is Keith Howell and I serve Christ on your Stewardship Committee.  We wish to communicate the ways that your obedience to God’s will financially is impacting the world around us. 

In this light, this morning we wanted to say “thank you”, because of your faithfulness, Trinity is able to provide all of the building material for the Murphy Harpst Day of Service this Saturday. 

Let me paraphrase some comments from Brian Hampton of MH:

Trinity (Rome) UMC is a leader in supporting Murphy Harpst, a financial leader, ranking in the top ten donor churches.  In addition to the financial support of the church itself and many individuals within the church, as well as donations from many Sunday School classes.  And Trinity makes an extraordinary offering of gifts and gift cards at Christmas.

The Trinity Day of Service on campus is one of the more significant dates on our calendar. Trinity’s is the largest, best attended, and most productive service day Murphy Harpst has. 

Murphy Harpst provides services to Georgia’s most severely disturbed children.  Children who have suffered egregious neglect and abuse.  It is not uncommon for these children to have experienced 14 or more unsuccessful foster placements before arriving at Murphy Harpst.  

For these kids Murphy Harpst is a safe haven, a place to receive effective treatment, education, and spiritual growth.  They gain a whole new life experience and a real chance to function in society.  

But this you know. 

What you may not know is that Murphy Harpst can reasonably claim an 80% success rate with the over 200 children they serve each year.  Children who would otherwise be lost to the correctional system as adults.  

Each one of these kids ache with a dream to live with some sense of what you and I would call normal; but for them, for them it is huge, it’s monumental. 

So what does this have to do with Stewardship?

Let me illustrate in closing:
Lets say that you got a call from Donald Trump to come to dinner, the purpose being to discuss a potential business venture that is so big, it would not only change your life, but the lives of many others as well. 

Now, Donald Trump does some big stuff – grandiose stuff, monumental ventures, and you, in our example, are invited to be a part of it.  That would be too fantastic to pass up, wouldn’t it? 
Now lets also say that in advance of this meeting you receive a check that is more than adequate to cover all of your expenses to come to the meeting; more than enough for clothes, travel, accommodations, etc. 

Let me ask you: If you had this opportunity would you set enough aside to pick up the tab for dinner? 

Think about what he brings to the table: capital, success, business experience, and personal banking, media, and political connections.  And you bring to the table – well – you.  Seriously, would you save enough to, just out of simple gratitude, to say when the check comes: “No, Mr. Trump, let me get this”? 

How much more then, should we give back to God?

Christ Jesus calls you and I to the table where Heaven and Earth intersect.  He brings all His majesty, and glory, and we bring . . . well, ourselves.  All He asks is that “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;” (Proverbs 3:9) - To faithfully participate in ministry by our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness

Heaven and Earth will intersect in Polk county, Georgia this Saturday where 200 children can have their lives changed each year  –  changing these children’s lives for Jesus Christ is more than big, its monumental. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Great Commission

Delivered at Floyd Springs UMC, Floyd Springs, GA March 8, 2015

Psalm 25:9
9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 

First, it is an honor to be with you this morning. If you are visiting
with us this morning, please know that I am the Lay Servant.  You should visit again when Rev Patrick Hopper is here and you will have a wonderful experience for certain.  Wayne would normally be here in Patrick’s stead, but he is recovering from shoulder surgery and doing well.  Needless to say, those are mighty shoes to fill up here so please be praying. 

I grew up in Glenwood and graduated from Armuchee High.  For those of you who may have known me then, please let me assure you that the temperature in Hades still exceeds 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  My presence here is a testament to depth of God’s mercy and the height of His grace. 

I remember right at the age of 10 playing softball across the street.  Actually, I don’t think that you can call it playing.  They gave me a glove and put me in the outfield where I could do the least damage.  I am not very athletic.  Good times.

Let me ask you: Who are you discipling?  Who is discipleing you? 

When Patrick called me a few days ago, I asked if you all were working on a series, or the lectionary, etc.  He said just preach the Gospel.  Great-I thought. 

From that I felt lead to spend some time on Matthew 28 this morning.  Let’s talk about how we are commanded to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We are now in the season of Lent.  The key part of the Easter narrative that, I think, gets overlooked from time to time is the “Great Commission”. 

It seems that we celebrate the magnificent resurrection, and it IS magnificent and WORTHY OF CELEBRATION.  Make no mistake.  However- the great commission, Matthew 28, when it is discussed, to my recollection, is isolated from the resurrection.  That is a shame for it is our part in the Gospel mission! 

Let’s take a closer look at what Matthew wrote for us here:

Verse 17: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” 
Now why did Matthew have to put that in there?  Did we really need to know that?  If you are writing a book that is designed to bring me to trust Jesus could you not just lay that aside?  I am glad it is there. 

Lets ask “Why on earth did some of the disciples doubt?”  They just saw the resurrection!!

We shouldn’t be too harsh in our assessment of doubting disciples.  But put this in historical context: Though the disciples never truly understood Jesus or His mission to this point, this is the man that taught them, fed them, loved them, and taken care of them for the last three years.  They loved Him and they were witnesses to the most brutal beating, scourging, torture and execution that the Roman empire could employ on the human, Jesus Christ.  

He was a miracle worker yet, in their eyes, He was incapable to escape death on the cross. 

Now they are witnessing to the most mindboggling miracle in all of history: Jesus did escape the grave!  The hope of all mankind! 

Keep in mind also that this was prior to Pentecost – so they did not have the Holy Spirit as we do now.  Really, who could blame them for having doubts? 

Item #1: People Come to Christ with Doubts and Fears. 
Lets face it: just like these disciples, we all come to Christ with our doubts and fears don’t we?  Keep that in mind when we are making disciples. 

Verse 18: “Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” 

Jesus establishes that HE has the right, the authority, and the expectation that WE should be obedient to His command. 

Item #2: As Jesus is the Supreme Authority, we should let nothing in Heaven or on earth ever interfere with our duty to carry out the Great Commission - ever. 

Verse 19 and 20 is where we are going to spend most of our time this morning.
Verse 19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  

Jesus says “go and make disciples” and then tells us how.  Most of us don’t make it past the “go” part.  Many times we emphasize the first word “go” and “all nations” then immediately relegate this command to the foreign mission field.  Not so fast. 

Item #3: The mission field includes the people in West Africa and the person sitting next to you in the pew. 

And when we do pass “go”, it goes something like this: We baptize them, hand them a bible and a membership card, and say “If you have any questions, I’ll have the preacher give you a call”.  And then we wonder why the culture is unraveling all around us. 

This, loved ones, is the crucial failure of the American Church.  All denominations.  We do not love one another with the love of Christ to interrupt our lives to help others live the life of a disciple. 

Item #4 - Our obedience must go beyond evangelism to include discipleship if we are to carry out the great commission!

Notice that Jesus said “Make Disciples” - Not just tell people about Him, invite them to church, or wear the tee-shirt.  Making disciples is not a spectator sport – it is full-contact.  Just as Jesus discipled the early church, He expects us to disciple others. 

We must invest ourselves in each other.  Otherwise, the resurrection was pointless. 

In order to make disciples, you must first BE a disciple.  “Who are we discipling and who is discipling us?” 

Does not mean that you have to be perfect, just willing to carry out Christ’s command.  For me personally, Romans 12:1-2 sums up discipleship. 

Romans 12:1,2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Be a living sacrifice- be willing to give up our will for His.
Renew our minds so that we will know the will of God and be different from the culture that surrounds us. 

Matthew 22:36-40
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

You know the disciplines of faith:
         Bible study – read devotionals daily is good.  Join a Bible study group.  We need to know the Word. 
         Prayer – Really pray.  Pray like it makes a difference; because it does. 
         Tithing – Malachi 3:6-12
         Fasting – Matthew 9:14-17.
         Worship – we are to worship.
         Fellowship – have Christian friends that will hold you lovingly to account.  Ask yourself “Who is mentoring me?” 

Pray over these areas in your life - for we are called to be obedient.  For if we are to make disciples then we must LIVE THE FAITH THAT WE PROFESS. 

People despise hypocrisy.  If they do not see our actions lining up with our words, then they will stand in line somewhere else.  They will try Islam, Kabala, Eastern Mysticism, dianetics,  - what have you.

Though people hate hypocrisy, they respect sincerity.  No one expects us to be walking perfection - so don’t wait to be perfect to begin.  You will struggle in these disciplines – to be honest I am having a time with my prayer life right now.  But I cannot let that get in the way of my calling. 

The difference is simple: are you using Christianity to get what you want or are you using what God gives you to further benefit His Kingdom?  Are we serving our will or His? 

Paul confessed these same struggles common to all followers in Romans 7:19.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.” 

But it did not stop him from carrying out the Great Commission!  Let it be the same with us. 

Verse 20 “ . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

We must teach them the complete Gospel: “teaching them to obey everything . . . “ 
Our calling is to Baptize and to teach.  Baptism (salvation) is a one-time event.  Teaching (sanctification) is a lifetime process.  Jesus saves, we baptize.  The Holy Spirit guides, we teach.  This is where we drop the ball. 

How do I find people to disciple?
You don’t.  Ask for God to bring people to disciple into your life when you are ready.  But they have to be in your life – not at arm’s distance.  If you are sincere, the Holy Spirit will put them in your path.  But be careful before you do, because it is tough to actively make disciples. 

You find yourself on the phone when you would rather be watching Downton Abby.  You will have kids at your house when you thought your kid-tending days were behind you.  You will cry with them, laugh with them, be angry for them – (be angry with them) but don’t give up on them. 

It can be frustrating.  Be patient with them.  Jesus got frustrated with His disciples, and still does.  But He still did His Father’s will. 

WE must also be aware that Christ loved the disenfranchised and those on society’s margins.  When Jesus said “All Nations”, He was not only referring to geography; there are no ethnic barriers in the Kingdom of God. 

“Red and Yellow Black and White, They are Precious in His sight . . . “ 
You will find your comfort zone being stretched for sure. 
Obedience has a cost.  It is true what Victor Frankl said: “Those who would give light must endure burning.”

Why is the Great Commission important?  It is important because nature hates a vacuum.  People are hurting and are looking for answers.  They are looking for acceptance and meaning anywhere they can find it, especially our young people.  They will numb life’s pain through alcohol, drugs, and fantasies.  They search for relevance in street gangs, unhealthy relationships, or cults. 

But just as devastating are misplaced priorities: we may worship our career and social standing.  Many will put their families on the alter of prosperity for the sake of a successful career track. 

I believe that Revival, if we truly want it, is on the horizon.  But like any blessing, we need to be ready for it.  We in the church need to grow closer to Christ and we are to bring people with us – for the good of the Kingdom.  Some will not want to come along, but we still need to offer them a ride.  Luke 14:23

Living the Christian life is not a spectator sport.  It is full contact. 

This is serious business.  Eternity depends on it.  We will be held accountable. 

For decades we in this nation had the luxury of a culture and society based on a Christian worldview.  Have you noticed any changes lately?  We no longer look at marriage through the lens of Ephesians 5:21-33.  Our society no longer can define evil when it should be clear to everyone – much less as found in Romans 1, Galatians 5 and throughout the Bible.  

I look at the world around us and pray for revival.  I pray that God would send His spirit among this nation again and spare us from the sin to which we have resigned and the madness that flows in its wake. 

But if God hears our prayers and revival is truly just over the horizon – again I have to wonder: “Will we be ready for it?” 

What good is it for a farmer to plant a garden only to let the harvest rot in the field?  What if God brings a harvest of souls to our doorstep and we fail to love them, to teach them, and to disciple them?  Then their very lives will rot in the shadow of our steeples.  And we will be held accountable for it. 
Pray for God to send people into our lives to mentor and disciple.  Pray for us to be there for them in their struggles, to laugh with them, cry with them, pray with them, be patient with them – live for them. 

We need to reach beyond ourselves to love one another, to hold each other up and not tear down.  When we do have differences, our goal is to restore, not to reject. 

Should we embrace everyone in our lives?  No, there will be people our lives that we will have to love at arm’s length for a while.  But we must love them just the same. 

Let me close with this: we do not do this work alone.  Christ did not give us this command to only ascend to Heaven and abandon us on earth.
We have His promise:
Final Item: “20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 

Let us pray.

Matthew 9:14-17
14 Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 15 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.







Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ministry Moment: Stewardship

Stewardship Moment             Sunday Feb 8, 2015

Hello,

I am Keith Howell and I am honored to serve on your Stewardship Committee. 

We all take for granted that we are able to worship Jesus in a comfortable sanctuary that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, unlike the majority of our brothers and sisters across the globe.  Also we tend to under appreciate that we have wonderful pastors in Revs Campbell, Hopper, and Woodworth that watch over our very souls, according to Hebrews 13.  ASV / NKJV

But we on stewardship wanted to chat a little about some of the ministries that we, you and I, support as part of the regular budget and tend to go unnoticed.  Ministries that clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless.

Third Street Ministries, for example, who provide warm clothes to individuals and families on the margins of society.  

Then there is The Rome Community Kitchen who feeds around 500 people every week. 

And don’t forget Rome Action Ministries’ Transitional Housing.  They recently placed a mother and her two children in a home and also provided classes on budgeting and parenting and what not. 

This congregation actively participates in clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and sheltering the homeless as part of our regular budget.     

And this congregation is capable of doing so because of your faithfulness; that God’s blessings are NOT constrained within these walls, but flow beyond to have real impact on the lives in the surrounding community.

I am sure that most of us are familiar with Malachi chapter 3:10  

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 

It’s the “ . . . throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” part of that verse which we wanted to share about this morning. 

It is because of your financial faithfulness that the blessings flow from the floodgates of Heaven out into Rome and Floyd County. 

And please never confuse tithing to be an act of generosity or benevolence, because it isn’t.  
Tithing is an act of discipleship; that is to say that it is an act of worship and obedience. 

Thank you for your obedience to Christ’s Calling.  Because of you, there is hope in our community for the naked, the hungry, and the homeless.   Hope that changes lives for Jesus Christ.