Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Shack- Book Review

Last week I was handed a book called "The Shack" by William Young. A member asked me to read it and then let her know what I thought. I have been handed many books over my short few years and I usually enjoy the books. If you don't know, I love to read. I am not a huge fan of fiction, but I enjoy a variety of authors and books. This book is a work of fiction and over the past 18 months has become a huge underground hit. Word of mouth and friends handing friends books because they are excited about what they read. I have been mulling over my response to the book. The struggle is how to share the excitement of Young's story telling and my own personal enjoyment of the characters, then turning to a disection of the theological underpinnings and reasoning out the orthodox and rather un-orthodox views of God. Without giving away the entire plot here I will say a few words about the book.
1. It's a work of fiction but suggests that it's a real story (all great fiction books do this)
2. The main character is a well thought out, realistic portrayal of a father who has suffered a great loss and blames himself for the inability to protect his children.
3. The main character after suffering a great loss encounters God in very unique and extraordinary ways.
4. The descriptions of God are rather interesting, original, maybe off-putting to some but are valid in regard to the style of story-telling.
5. Those descriptions do not follow any major orthodox view of God.
6. The book challenges traditional views of God
7. If you have lost someone in your life close to you, it will provide some answers and help the grieving process.

This is a first and rather brief view of the book. I plan on leading a few small groups to help process and discuss some of the views of God expressed in the book. Watch the church e-news and bulletin for more info. Probably have those groups in September. If you are searching for a great, quick read, I would 100% recommend reading "The Shack".

Monday, July 28, 2008

Where Do If Fit In?

Fitting in is something we do all of our life. We try and fit in at school, at work, in the church, in our families and in the world. I spoke of a friend named Guy in church the other day. Guy was deeply committed to keeping in shape. He was a workout fiend. He was relentless in pushing his body to the extreme. He cross trained with swimming, running, biking, weights and any new workout he found. His diet was also something he watched every day. He never "skipped" a day on his diet. The health of his body was probably one of, if not the most, important thing in his life. In the body of Christ (the church) we need to work on our spiritual health too. But many of us neglect the spiritual health of our souls. We deny or ignore the nourishment we need because we are too busy, work or family gets in the way of our taking care of our spiritual life. We need a daily dose of spiritual nourishment, just like our bodies need food. The spiritual food in our lives can come in many different forms. Prayer and Bible study are two wonderful and easily accessible ways of nourishing our souls. If you ask Guy what would happen to his body if he only worked out or stayed on his diet ONE day a week, he would laugh. There is no way he could keep his body in top shape only working out, dieting and taking care of it one day a week. How about your spiritual health? Is one hour on Sunday morning good enough?

Discover your spiritual gifts to further the health of your soul--Serve God and Neighbor
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers . . . Ephesians 4:11
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Helping Agencies we are connected to...

DELLA LAMB- Della Lamb Community Services was founded in 1897 as a Methodist Mission to provide child care for poor, working mothers. Today, we provide low-income families with early education, childcare, youth services, adult services, adult education, transportation, emergency social services, international refugee services, elementary charter school education, back to school supplies, Thanksgiving and Christmas groceries and gifts.

NEWHOUSE- Shelter for Abused Women
Needs: Cash Donations, Cell Phones, Bath Towels & Washcloths, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels & Napkins, Twin Sheets, Blankets & Pillows, Family Sized Shampoo & Conditioner, African-American Hair Supplies, First Aid Supplies & Cold Medicine, Children's Socks & Underwear, Hand Sanitizer, Vacuum

SPOFFORD HOME-In 1916, Mrs. Thomas M. Spofford gave her mansion at 25th and Paseo to the women of the Methodist Episcopal church to be used as an orphanage. More than 90 years later, Spofford continues to provide hope and healing to abused and neglected children as well as preventative, community-based services that build family strength and foster child success at home, school and in the community.

RESTART- Overnight Emergency Shelter, Family Emergency Shelter, Transitional Living, Homeless Services Center, Permanent Supportive Housing, Economic Development, Supportive Services: Health care; educational assistance; chemical dependency support groups; life skills classes; housing assistance; and HIV/AIDS care, soup kitchen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Accepting the Whole Love of God

Holiness or righteousness is a way of life for disciples. Hundred and thousands of book have been written on the topic of Holiness. Anglican Bishop JC Lyle (1816-1900) once wrote that "Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man." To follow Christ we must be fully committed to the Christian life and the journey of salvation. To become more like God, as we are made in His image, we must devote ourselves to a path of holiness. Whether it be through worship or spiritual discipline, we must continue every day to strive to live a life that honors God and neighbor. The choice to become closer to God is ours. Either we spend our days distracted, toiling in the things of the world, or we can slow down and take the time to be holy. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 4:7
As we strive to be holy, our family, friends and coworkers will see our witness. Any inconsistent behavior that runs counter to the Christian life can and will hinder others finding God. It is by God's grace that we have been saved through faith. Our faith must be true, strong and courageous. This week, take time to be holy. Take time to be a living testimony to all you encounter. Who knows, maybe you might be able to walk with someone for a few moments and help them along their own path.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Camp

Yep, I love Camp Galilee!!! It' a fact, it's the truth, this is the best summer EVER!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Martha and Mary

The sermon post for this week comes from an Adult Sunday school leader. Their class if following along with the sermon series.

(Luke 10:38-41)
For me, the story of Mary and Martha lands squarely in the middle of the main point of tension in the church today. Martha, is the activist, who’s motto is, Don’t just stand there do something.
Mary, on the other hand, more contemplative than her sister, counters with, Don’t just do something, stand there. Church boards, Sunday school classes, or groups gathered to consider the next big thing, bump heads on this issue. In the past, contemplative types have retreated from the world, and built sanctuaries in the desert to eliminate distraction so they could spend their days considering the eternal. Conscientious go getters have rallied like minded folk and taken off for the ghetto, eager to repair a broken world. The type A personality wants to get things done while the type B wants to think about them, consider options, and examine possibilities before taking a first, hesitant step. In this story, Mary seems to get a pat on the back for her lack of action. She’s done nothing to help her sister, choosing instead to sit at the feet of the Master and listen. Jesus said of her, "she has chosen what is better."
Is he encouraging thought over deed? Inaction over action? In a time and place where hospitality was an art form, ("Simon you neither greeted me with a kiss or provided water for my feet," Luke 7:44) shouldn’t Martha have gotten a little praise. ("Nice looking pound cake Martha, take a break and listen to this.")
Of course, we should find a balance. Journey in and journey out. Trust God and work.
But woe to the Mary who finds herself in a church filled with Marthas.
Ron Ostlund

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Next Sermon Series at Grace

I thought some of you might want to hear what we are all working on around here for July and August.

Steps to Wholiness

Holiness or righteousness is a way of life for Disciples. Hundred and thousands of book have been written on the topic of Holiness. Anglican Bishop JC Lyle (1816-1900) once wrote that "Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man." Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation. As a new creation, we take steps toward God. God draws us in, and as we respond, our hearts, minds and souls begin to better understand His will. Doing God's will on earth leads us to amazing blessings and spiritual depth that moves us forward, even during our greatest struggles. We become the light of Christ on this earth so that others may be drawn into the presence of God.

July 13 Accepting the Whole Love of God
July 20 Get In the Game
July 27 Where Do I Fit In?
August 3 Restraining Your Lesser Self
August 10 What to Do When Your World Collapses
August 17 A Love Worth Giving
August 24 Joy-filled Wholiness As a Way of Life