Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
A few weeks ago, I shared a message on Sunday about United Methodist Church lingo church words. Within the UMC’s understanding of the Christian faith, we believe that the church should be alive in the culture and the world. In other words, John Wesley (the father of Methodism) believed the Christian faith was to be a way of life; not simply a Sunday church thing. So with that, we read the scriptures, we live out our faith by clothing the naked, we visit those in prison, we pray for the sick and we feed the hungry.
The United Methodist Church also believes we are to take care of the orphans and children. During that Sunday message, I shared that five Texas Bishops of the United Methodist Annual Conferences had drafted a proposal to be presented to the Texas Legislature. The proposal and petition stated the need for resources to be released from the Rainy Day Fund to help children and youth in the Texas education system. I invited the congregation to sign the petition if they agreed with the proposal of the Bishops.
Back to my question, should I have used the pulpit to share this?
Frankly, I never thought twice about it. This was not a support of one political party or person. Rather, this was about living out my faith and inviting others to join me if they so desired.
This past Sunday, we shared in the baptism of a beautiful infant, as we were going through the liturgy I was reminded again why children are so important. Within the liturgy, we ask parents, “Will you accept the freedom and the power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” To me, cutting educational funding is an injustice and God gives us the freedom and the power to resist this injustice.
In addition, the baptism liturgy invites the congregation into a covenant to help nurture and grow children; “Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include these children now before you in your care?” We respond, yes!
Over the past few weeks, I have been preaching about our calling at Cypress UMC. Our calling is to be a leading church in Cypress that grows God’s Kingdom, prepares our children and youth for Christ-Centered living, and partners with each person on their spiritual journey.
The UMC’s baptism covenant says we are called to resist injustice on behalf of these children.
The Cypress UMC’s calling states that we are to prepare our children and youth for Christ-centered living.
By joining our Bishops in making a statement to our Texas Legislature about the importance of our children’s education falls in line with the Christian faith and the direction of my faith walk.
Jesus loves the children – so should we.
Should the pulpit be used to share these ideas? By the grace of God, yes!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Did you know that you have a spiritual gift? Every believer has one or more. Spiritual gifts are a gift from God given to every believer to build up the faith community. Why should you be interested in knowing your spiritual gifts? The Bible says so. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:1, “now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.”
Second, knowing our spiritual gifts helps us to understand why God celebrates our uniqueness. We tell our children that there is no one like them on the face of the planet and God tells us that too!
There are many spiritual gifts and you could have any combination of them. You don’t get to choose your gifts; God chooses them for you with purpose and thought. Isn’t that amazing? I promise I didn’t make that up! Paul tells in 1 Corinthians, “All these [spiritual gifts] are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” Remember, you are a beautiful creation of God. Doesn’t just knowing that God chose your spiritual gifts, make you want to know what they are?
Finally, you should know your spiritual gifts because God gave them to you for a purpose. Paul writes again in first Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” You are given spiritual gifts so that you can build up, support, lift, encourage, assist, defend, take care of, work with, strengthen, uphold, confirm, and love the community of faith. Your spiritual gifts are not for you they are given to you so you can assist other people. Now it stands to reason that as you utilize the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you, you will naturally be drawn closer to God as you use your spiritual gifts, but that is not their purpose. You were created to become a part of something that is bigger than yourself. You were designed to be a part of the body of Christ. Paul says a lot about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. I encourage you to read it.
If you do not know your spiritual gifts, and you would like to find out more information you can go to UMC.org and take their Spiritual Gift Assessment. The first assessment I took included the gift of humor. I ranked pretty high on that one. I love to laugh, I like to make other people laugh and I like to be around people who are laughing! I haven’t seen many Spiritual Gift Assessments that include humor. Most recently, when I took the assessment, my spiritual gifts included encouragement, hospitality, and teaching.
What are you waiting for?
-Rev. Stephanie Hughes, Associate Pastor at Cypress United Methodist Church
Thursday, January 27, 2011
|Rev. Knolls at his computer Cypress UMC|
1 one who has personal knowledge of something
2 a : something serving as evidence or proof, sign b : public affirmation by word or example of usually religious faith or conviction <the heroic witness to divine life — Pilot>
“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
Did you know the average church-goer will, over the course of their life, hear 4,000 sermons, sing 20,000 songs, participate in 8,000 public prayers and lead zero sinners to faith in Jesus Christ? This is a sobering and sad statistic. How close are you to average? If you have never been a part of bringing another soul to Jesus, then you’ve missed one of the most precious experiences of life. Sharing Jesus with another person and seeing the difference He makes in their life is one of the most wonderful experiences you can have. “And like Paul, all Christ-followers who ‘get’ what it means to be used by the Holy Spirit are thrilled with any opportunity to help move a person even an eight of a millimeter closer to God.” (Bill Hybels)
Sadly, I’m sorry to say many people miss out on it. According to a recent study, on average within three years of a person becoming a Christian, they will no longer have close friendships with people who aren’t Christians. This happens because of a multiple of factors, but the end result is that Christians are loosing evangelistic contact with other people.
Unfortunately, too many believers have lost that burning sensation to share the message of hope. Why are we not excited about sharing the story of Jesus? Are we too concerned about being politically correct? According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, only 53% of born again American Christians feel a sense of responsibility to tell others about their faith. In other words, nearly half of American Christians don’t share the Good News!
The institute of American Church Growth polled 4,000 people and asked them how they were influenced to attend the church where they eventually became members:
- 2 - 3% just walked in
- 2 - 3% came through the churches programs
- 5 - 6% were attracted by the preacher
- 1 - 2% came out of a special need
- 1 - 2% were reached through visitation programs
- 4 - 5% came through a Sunday school class
- ½ - 1% came through a public evangelistic crusade/campaign
- 75 - 90% were converted through the influence of friends and relatives
-Rev. Harold Knolls, Associate Pastor at Cypress United Methodist Church
Bill Hybels Just Walk Across the Room, Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith
Thursday, January 20, 2011
|My older brother Marty and I|
1. (of a person or conduct) Morally right or justifiable; virtuous.
2. Perfectly wonderful; fine and genuine.
Growing up, it was not uncommon for my older brother to aggravate me by hitting me, throwing things at me or calling me names. When my brother did something to me that was wrong I would make sure to let my parents know, because when you are treated poorly you usually go to someone who can make things right! My parents could offer me justice and had the authority to get things back on track.
In the world, when things go wrong, God’s attributes and character include making things right. In the days of Noah, when the world was headed in the wrong direction, God called upon Noah because he had a Godly character.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
When God wanted someone to go into the promise land, he called upon Abraham.
“Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
When God entered into the world, He chose Mary to carry the baby and Joseph for the father.
Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man. (Matthew 1:19)
God’s ultimate act of making things right, was the cross. In our brokenness and our disobedience to God’s will, we do not have the ability to make thing right with God. However, Jesus goes to the cross, bears all the sins of the world so that when God looks at all of us He sees “righteous people”. By the cross, we are right with Him again.
When we receive Holy Communion or when we remember our baptism, we remember the God who makes us righteous because of His deep and abiding love for us.
In our human condition, we want things made right when we have been wronged. In our walk with God, He deems you and I right on the cross. He is the ultimate judge of true righteousness. Trust in Him.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
This week, as I sit in class, I have been trying to focus however, our world has experienced a tragedy in Arizona, flooding in Australia, and we have been remembering the earthquake in Haiti. Today, I felt the need to pray for those in recovery in Arizona, Australia and Haiti. There is so much need in our world but I know God is in our midst. Will you join me in prayer?
But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.