Great Commission Journey - Footsteps of Faith

Sunday, September 17th, we  celebrated both Back to Church Sunday and the kick off of the Great Commission Journey - Footsteps of Faith, our 2017-2018 stewardship campaign. For ten weeks we will focus on taking a step forward in our journey of spiritual growth. Matthew 28:19 records Jesus' last words to his disciples -- a command to them and to us: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the end of the age." 

I hope you will join with us as we Connect with others and with our Lord (September 17th); Prepare our hearts (September 24th); through our Prayers (October 1st); with our Presence (October 8th); in Service (October 15th); as we Witness (October 22nd); giving and receiving Gifts (October 29th); Share ourselves (November 5th); and Send ourselves out knowing that Jesus is, indeed, with us (November 19th).  

As you can see, stewardship is much more than giving money--it is a way of living out our faith. May you be blessed and be a blessing to others on this journey.  

Robert Martindale
Stewardship Chairman

Connect

Like many others, I believe that the worst circumstances bring out the best in most of us. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey is a recent example. The overwhelming outpouring of donations financial and in-kind, the impressive number of volunteers who hurried to the Gulf Coast, and the prayers of thousands demonstrated the best of Americans (not all were from Texas).

This connection among folks from the wide variety of backgrounds and interests resulted in saved lives for the rescued and a sense of purpose for the rescuers. Not as dramatic, but just as meaningful is the connection made when you and I reach out to a neighbor, a family member, a stranger and offer a helping hand, an encouraging word, an offer to pray. Ask God to lead you to someone this week who you can connect with.


Prepare

Last week we connected with one another in order to strengthen
ourselves and multiply our effectiveness.  This week we need to
prepare. In the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel (38:7) we read. “Be
prepared and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be on guard for them.” NASB   Each week during our fall stewardship campaign we will be challenged to take
another
Footstep Forward in Faith.  This week we prepare our hearts to receive—to receive God’s grace so lavishly poured out for each of us, to receive peace—a peace greater than any the world can offer, to receive love, deep, abiding love.


Prayers - World Communion Sunday

We began this Great Commission Journey by taking Footsteps of Faith.  First, we
connected with others on “Back to Church Sunday” by reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, even strangers in faith.  Last week we prepared our hearts to receive all that God has for us “But each day the Lord pours us unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs praying to God who gives me life.” Ps 42:8 NLT

This week we take another step forward through prayer.  What a wonderful gift is prayer-the beyond belief opportunity to speak directly to the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings.  In Philippians 4:6 we are told, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all that he has done.” NLT

Let’s invest 30 minutes each day in reviewing the many blessings we have received—blessings as simple as the ability to get out of bed (many cannot); the ability to see and hear (even with aids); the love of family, of friends; the fact that we live in a free country, imperfect as it is; and so many more blessings.  Thank God for Windcrest UMC and for pastors . . .this daily exercise in praying thanks can change our outlook on life, can change our very lives.  Take St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to heart, “Never stop praying.” NLT


Presence
This week we focus on Presence.

Having connected with others as we began this Great Commission Journey, we prepared our hearts to receive God's love manifested through his many gifts. And then in praying we gave thanks and voiced our petitions, our needs and those
of others.

Today we take another Footstep of Faith -- that of presence. Our heavenly Father wants us to be so confident in his love for us that we stand tall and "... march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns." (Psalm 95:2, The Message) Now that's exciting -- we are called to enter BOLDY into the presence of the Almighty God, the Creator -- WOW! Remember that as you continue your journey this week, trusting in a God who loves you.


Dedicated Service

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God to
present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual
service of worship. (NASB)

We’re halfway through our Great Commission Journey — a ten week
preparation for
Footprint Sunday when we have the opportunity to put our faith in to action by making a pledge of whatever amount God has laid on
our heart.

This week our Footstep of Faith is one of Service, a fitting aspect of
Stewardship to focus on for Laity Sunday. Our congregation is filled with members who actively live out this aspect. Obvious are those who host Neighbors Helping Neighbors twice monthly: as are those you can find volunteering in the Pumpkin Patch this month. But there are many, many more who serve others regularly—often unseen to the majority of us. Doris Bristow coordinates a small group of volunteers to take communion to our homebound members monthly. Tony Neve serves quietly behind the scenes preparing and selling breakfast tacos once a month to raise funds for the Youth Ministry, as well as working in a number of other roles that serve this vital ministry. Ron Wood, Francie Reese and others labor long and hard and to improve our campus. A current project is renovating the bathrooms in the
Hilliard Building. I could literally fill multiple pages of our “Connection” naming members who
serve God through serving you, me and others. Where are you called to serve God and his church today?


Witness

In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, Verses 19 and 20 we were given the Great Commission "to go and make disciples of all nations . . . And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." This week we are reminded that we are not to accomplish this in our own power, but rather his power. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8, NIV) This is, indeed, Good News. We need have no fear that we are not articulate enough or don't know Scripture enough. It may be true that we stumble when we try to convince someone that God truly loves them, or to remember Bible verses that speak specifically to the need for repentance and acceptance of God's love. But, again, there is no need for fear--all we need do is make ourselves available to God and he will send his Holy Spirit to do the convincing and the convicting. The most powerful witness you or I can give is to share humbly how God has changed our lives, then allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. It really is that simple, that easy.

This week pray and ask God to send one person to you who needs to hear the Good News --the Good News that Jesus loves you and he loves them. Then
expect the Holy Spirit to lead you in your Footsteps of Faith.

 

Gifts

Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and Christmas—all are times we give and receive gifts. We give gifts to demonstrate our love for the recipients. And we feel loved when we received gifts. Some gifts are large, some small. What matters most is the love behind the gift—the love of and for the giver. Some give the gift of prayer, others the gift of service. Both are meaningful gifts that say, “I care for you; your are important to me.”

When we are asked to make a pledge on Sunday, November 19th of an amount that we plan to give to and through our church, we will have an opportunity to demonstrate our love—our love for those who serve us as church staff; and love for our pastors and those who’ve gone before and are now retired; our love for our neighbors who struggle to make it through the month; our love for our Gulf Coast neighbors who have lost so much; our love for the church worldwide where the Gospel is being preached; and most of all our love for God who gave us the greatest gift of all, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As the Apostles Paul say in 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV), “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

 

Share

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Prov. 11:25, NIV

According to the Bible Gateway website, there are 124 Bible verses with the word share. One of my favorite is, “Better to live on a concern of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Prov. 21:9, NIV. Seriously through, the general meaning and use of the term is one we all understand. Earlier this week we had the opportunity to share candy with neighborhood children as they shared their excitement in dressing in costumes and receiving more sweets than a mother wants them to have. And if you’re a grandparent (like me), you loved seeing the bright, smiling faces of the little ones.

In a similar sense, we experience genuine joy when we share our time, experience and material good with others. Billy Graham said it like this, “We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.”

One of the great resources in this congregation is our large number of seniors. Last week we honored a beautiful group of those 90 years or older. They have much wisdom to share.  Mary Hatch has captured some of their stories to share with us through the “Connection.” This Sunday we remember those who’ve gone on before us and we share our collective sorrow. And through the sharing in we grow stronger as a body of Believers. Look for ways to share this week. Maybe it’s a note or card to a family member or friend. Or, perhaps it’s a bottle of water to someone on the street. And remember, “The miracle is this: The more we share the more we Have.” Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek.

 



4 Reasons Your Kids Should Sit

with You on Sunday


Taking your child to a Sunday worship service can be jarring. Trust me, I know. It once gave me a concussion.

Years ago, we began introducing our 4-year-old son to the worship service, with all the potential misbehavior that entails. During corporate prayer he decided to lie down on the floor. Like a good dad I knelt over and told him to get up. Like a good son he obeyed, immediately and enthusiastically. A little too enthusiastically.

As he jumped up, the full weight of his 95th-percentile-sized head drove directly into my semi-opened jaw. My teeth sank into my tongue before sending the rest of my cranium upward, and for a fleeting moment I saw stars. Somehow I managed to make it through the rest of the service with a growing dull buzz inside my head.

The incident gave me a new perspective on impactful worship.

Not every instance of bringing our kids to the worship service is like that, of course, but it can be a difficult transition, both for our little ones and also for us. So if it’s that hard, why would a church encourage kids (not necessarily babies) to sit in worship with their families? Here are four areas why I believe this is helpful: discipleship, education, tradition, and opportunity.


1. Discipleship

At the core of Jesus’s Great Commission to his disciples (Matt. 28:18–20) is the call to make disciples of all nations—that is, all people groups. The “all” includes the very people within our own families, and the commission is not restricted to age. And making disciples is never an abbreviated event.

Hearing the gospel preached and seeing its effects in the worship of a local church family is a powerful way to make disciples. What better way for a child to be introduced to what it means to be a disciple than to experience life with disciples of all ages and levels of maturity?


2. Education

Moses tells God’s people, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:6–7).

The words of God should be taught to our own children today. A corporate worship service in which Scripture is read, sung, prayed, and preached helps us as we educate our kids.

The art of listening to a sermon is not something easily obtained in our soundbyte- and social media-driven culture. There’s virtually nowhere else kids will learn this skill. Someone introduced to a worship service as a teen will have a much more difficult time learning how to listen to sermons than one who’s been raised to slowly appreciate the intricacies of this unique (and biblical) form of communication. Sitting in the worship service teaches them how to worship by listening to God’s Word—an invaluable skill for any Christian.


3. Tradition

Evangelicalism has a long history of eschewing tradition. You might say it’s our tradition to not think much of tradition. But therein lies the rub. While we are right not to blindly serve tradition, there is no biblical prohibition on allowing tradition to serve us and our children. During my childhood, I was powerfully influenced by my grandfather giving the offertory prayer as I stood and sang beside my grandmother, who had the hymnal memorized.

Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). The faith that was delivered to our predecessors is the same faith now being entrusted to us. While it’s possible to pick up bad habits from tradition, it’s also possible that tradition will guard us from falling into error. When novel teachings arise in the church, their very novelty can be a warning: If no one’s ever thought or done this before, is it wise for us to start now?


4. Opportunity

Even if our kids don’t at first understand everything encompassed in the readings, singing, and preaching—and make no mistake, they won’tthey will at least understand the people who love them and stand beside them.

This proximity gives us a prime opportunity to explain what they don’t grasp. Children hear more than you think. You’d be surprised at what 4-year-olds ask when you assume they’re tuned out. In worship, we have the opportunity to introduce our kids to a taste of the eternal—God’s saints celebrating him together. At the least, attending worship with your child may prompt them to ask you the reason for the hope within you (1 Pet. 3:15).

Transitioning kids to the worship service is difficult, but it’s a difficulty worth enduring. Yes, you may have a few months (or a few years) of distraction.

But the distraction won’t last forever, and you’ll be building on something that will.



4 Reasons Your Kids Should Sit with You on Sunday