Life is a journey. Faith is a journey. Relationships are a Journey. This Lenten season, I invite you to participate in a Spiritual journey with me, a Sacred Journey. Lent is a time of symbolically entering the desert/wilderness with Jesus for 40 days in preparation for Easter.
This Lent, our sacred journey sermon series will follow the book “Canoeing the Mountains” by Todd Bolsinger. We will review the journey of Lewis and Clark in their search for the northwest passage. They expected an easy water route to the Pacific but instead found only mountains.
What do we do when our journey gets difficult? When the path changes, or disappears completely? Do we want to return to civilized country, or the way it’s always been? Or is the mission / the Sacred Journey important enough to adapt, to push forward, to persevere? What strategies and tactics do we use to reach our destination?
I invite you on a Sacred Spiritual Journey this Lent with your friends and family at Johnston River of Life and Hopkins Grove UMC.
During January we spent time uncovering the concepts of having a heart at peace. We determined how to recognize a heart at war, and how to cultivate a heart of understanding. It was exciting to hear the comments about how this series was impactful for many. But it also left many of us recognizing how the radical change in our culture, the style of worship, or the conflict intrinsic in doctrine and dogma can make us uneasy or lead to struggle between individuals or groups.
In February, as we prepare for Lent, we are going to dig through the book of Galatians to see how God is both relevant in tradition and beyond tradition; relevant in culture and in preceding the perpetual change of culture.
We will engage in some challenging questions such as:
- How can God be never changing, and yet the God of change, present in change, and waiting for us to accept change?
- How does God give new life and breathe beauty into the seasons of constant change?
- What is it about change that we are afraid of?
- How do we see the tradition behind the tradition of the church?
Join us this month for a thoughtful study, discussion, and experience of discovering God in fresh new ways.
Society has become very health conscious, specifically heart healthy. We are aware of stressors that can damage the heart. We know what foods are heart healthy, and which ones are potentially harmful. We understand the value of physical exercise and rest. We have developed technology that can see and fix blockages and broken valves. In fact, there are over 5,000 heart transplants done every year and another 3,000 – 4,000 people on a waiting list.
With all of the awareness of heart disease, many people still choose to ignore the simple things they could do to improve their health.
Scripture also says a lot about the condition of our heart. Of course, it is addressing the spiritual condition of our heart; if it is aligned with God, or the world, if it has peace, joy, and love, or anger, violence, and stress.
What is the condition of your heart? Are there things you could do to improve your spiritual heart health?
Many of us could benefit from attending to both our physical, as well as our spiritual heart health. This January join us as we dig into scripture and reflect on the process of:
· Cultivating a Heart of Peace
· Recognizing a Heart at War
· Embracing a Heart of Understanding
· Pursuing a Heart of Mercy
For those interested in going deeper, I will lead a book discussion that will parallel the sermons series, we will utilize, The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute. (It is a narrative story and easy reading, despite what the title may sound like) Pick up your copy and start making your list of discussion questions.
Personally, I think you will love this series. What a great way to start the year together.
The Season of Christmas is filled with Wonder! It is more than just the lights, songs, shopping, family, and shared meals. The true Wonder of Christmas is found in Emmanuel, God with us. It is the promise of a new covenant fulfilled. It is the Peace of God that is present in the midst of chaos and strife. It is the Joy of the world persevering through the turmoil. It is the Love of neighbor overcoming hate and bias. It is the Hope of the world embodied in a baby born in a manger.
Come and celebrate the Wonder of the Season with us!
God has graced every believer with unique spiritual gifts. Some have gifts of administration, leadership, or evangelism. Others possess gifts of faith, mercy, or giving, teaching, shepherding, or intersession, to name just a few.
Have you ever wondered what your gifts are?
Have you debated if you really had any?
Our spiritual gifts are God’s graces that are meant to benefit us, our church, community, and ultimately the kingdom of God.
Join us on a journey of discovery and application of your Spiritual Gifts this November at JROL.
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.” -Philippians 1:3-4
This September as we start a new school year, we face new challenges. Some of us have kids starting in new buildings, or leaving home for the first time. We have new schedules of sports and activities, possibly new colleagues and friends. We may find ourselves standing at a turning point in life, alone, afraid, and lost. Life is constantly in flux and nothing is certain. Well, I guess there is one constant that we cannont see, and cannot understand, until some day we look back to see the pattern that God was weaving in our lives.
This month we are going to talk about people in the Bible who demonstrate living a life of purpose. They may have found themselves in a diverse set of life experiences, they may have doubted themselves and wondered where God was leading them, they may have felt lost at times, but they all teach us what it means to live on purpose.
We hope you will join us for this exciting series, dig in, and start living on purpose.
One of the things that I have learned in my years of life and ministry is that there is always forward, a way backward, many possible detours, and then there is the way of a Disciple.
How many times have we all heard, “When the world closes a door, God opens a window”? To some degree believe this is true. What we are basically saying is that the direction we thought life would take us is no longer possible and we need to change our course. Now I am not saying that I believe in fate, or predestination, but I do believe that the courses we plot for ourselves are not always the course that God desires for us. Sadly we often fight to stay on our own course, or we beat on the door that is closed until our knuckles are bloody and our fiber of our being broken in despair, all the time there was a another path just waiting...
In life we make choices that move us forward toward goals and dreams, we pour time and effort into becoming who we aspire to or attaining new titles at work and new toys at home. We experience push back and long detours when things don't go as planned. And we experience stress, anxiety, depression the more we feel our world closing around us.
But I believe there is another way... The Way of a Disciple!
The way of a disciple is not the stubborn way forward, it never requires beating against doors of lost dreams. It doesn't require retreat or back-treading. It doesn't even have detours, although we don't always understand why we had experience something. No, in fact it is EVEN MORE difficult. The Way of a Disciple often means finding doors that seem invisible, turning away from doors that are open, ignoring the voice of friends around us pointing where we should go, and recognizing an almost impossible road as the direction of Gods will. (Think Via Dola Rosa) The Way of a Disciple is never popular, it is never easy, for all of the disciples in meant turning away from family, job, and friends. It meant sacrifice, and even martyrdom. Jesus tells us if we want to follow Him, that we need to take up our Cross and follow Him. But no matter how difficult the path, the rewards are well worth it.
In April we invite you to join us for a journey along The Way of a Disciple. We will each take a personal look at where we are in our journey, areas we need to work on, ways that we can take a step closer to God, see doors that we never knew existed and be encouraged. Come and join us each week as we Begin the Journey, Belong to a Community, Become a Disciple, and Bless Others along the Way.
Pastor Craig Ferguson
I have been in church all my life. I don't remember when I missed worship for more that a couple weeks. You could say I am drenched in church culture and indoctrinated by an education in theology.
How easy it is to forget the Threads of Grace that hold us in relationship with God. Scripture reminds us that no one is worthy, no one stands righteous before God. We are loved by God before we can do anything to deserve it. We are drawn by God even when we mess up royally. We are anointed and given purpose by God even when we stumble along the road. The Gospel message is filled with hope, but so often we forget or we get distracted by things of the world.
During Lent this year I am excited to be teaching a series that will refresh our understanding of who we are as Christians and United Methodists. Historically what have been the components that made us stand out and still define us today as a people called United Methodists? What was the “method to our madness?”
Maybe you have questions...
What is our understanding of God and the Trinity?
How does Grace work for the unbeliever, the sinner, the devout, or me?
What is our Christian role and responsibility in the world?
How do we embody Christ to the world through our Social Principles?
How does faith and the church make a difference in my family and community?
A couple of things that really set this series apart is that we will begin with a ministry celebration on February 16th 6:00 PM at Crown Point (everyone is invited). At this time we will identify the committee members that will lead us into Chartering as a new Church in September. We will also celebrate all the ministries and volunteers that actively make JROL possible. (That's a lot of people) We will also have special Life groups that will meet during Lent to delve even deeper into the questions. (Make sure to join a group.) Finally, on Easter weekend we will have a special service celebrating our unity and purpose as members of JROL, “Being Christ in Community.”
We have a lot to celebrate, and an exciting year ahead of us. Get involved!