Walking Confidently

As we strive to walk with God there are times when that walk is easy. The path is smooth and level. The journey is without any obstacle or complication. When everything is going well, it’s easy to believe in God’s faithful love and that He indeed is working out His plans for our lives.
 
But what about when the walk is tough? When things aren’t going well? When the path is hard and steep and fraught with danger and trouble? When our boss berates us, when our kids disobey us, when our spouse ignores us, and when our health fails us, has God abandoned us? Are His plans still in motion? How can we walk confidently even in the midst of all the problems?
 
That is our question this week as we continue our series Walking in the Way. Thankfully we are not alone when it comes to walking through trouble. King David is one of the heroes of the Bible and yet he experienced many times of trouble. He wrote many of the psalms, many of which were songs of lament in the midst of trouble. We will look at one of the most beautiful and powerful of those Psalms, Psalm 138.
 
We often struggle to be thankful and confident when we’re disappointed or hurt. We hold God responsible for our troubles and easily forget all the ways in which He has blessed us. Psalm 138 reminds us of the many reasons we can be genuinely grateful, without a hint of resentment or bitterness, even in the midst of our hardships. As we take a look at this psalm we will find the many reasons that we like David can walk confidently with God even in the midst of troubles.
 
We all face troubles and difficulties in life. We are in one of three camps. We are either coming out of trouble. We are in the midst of trouble. Or whether we know it or not we are heading towards times of trouble. Whatever road you are walking right now this message is for you. We will find that as David even when we are surrounded by trouble, we can confidently say, “Surely the Lord would work out the plans for his life.” How? By reflecting on God’s character.
 
Invite a friend and don’t miss worship this Sunday!
 
Randy

Walking Blamelessly

A Message from the Pastor

Do you like to walk? When we lived in Sterling one of the things I enjoyed was the walking trail that ran behind our parsonage. The W&OD Trail was an old railroad line that had been converted into a public trail. The trail was nicely paved, neatly kept, and well lighted. It ran nearly 45 miles from Shirlington near Washington, DC west through Sterling all the way to Purcellville, VA. I loved being able to walk right out of our back door, take the path cut through the woods and pick up the trail. I logged many miles running and walking along that trail through the years. The walking/running was good physical exercise and the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s handy-work was great for one’s spirit. I would often listen to uplifting praise music or spend time in prayer with God.
 
Along the trail, you would meet people of all ages some walking, some running, some riding bikes, some walking dogs, some walking as families and others by themselves. Some seemed to be on a mission as they walked, and others appeared to have no agenda. Some would smile and say “Hi” or ask, “How is your day?” and others wouldn’t even look your way.
 
When I think of “walking,” the similarities between walking physically and walking spiritually are a lot alike. Followers of Jesus often use the phrase “walk with God” to describe their relationship with God. The spiritual journey is a pilgrimage, a walk. Throughout the song and prayer book of the Bible, the Book of Psalms, the songwriters and poets use “walk” to describe this reality as well.
 
In these next four weeks of July, we at New Creation will look at four dynamics of this “walk with God.” We will examine four of the most well-known psalms in the Bible and explore what they teach us about walking in the Way.
 
This week we will begin the series with a look at Psalm 1 and how it teaches us to “Walk Blamelessly.” I pray that you will join me in praying for this week’s message as we begin this new series and I pray that you invite your friends and family to join us each week.
 
Randy
 

The Paradox of Freedom

A Message from the Pastor

On Wednesday of next week, on the 4th of July we will celebrate our nation’s 242nd birthday. It was nearly two and a half centuries ago that the United States of America was born. A nation based on the ideals of liberty, responsibility, Godliness, and the freedom to become what God intended us to become was a new and revolutionary idea.

The celebration of our nation’s birthday is really a celebration of freedom. We celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have because of the price others paid. You see, we must remember that freedom isn’t free. Freedom is very expensive. It has come to us because of the blood of many brave men and women shed in defense of our freedom. It has cost some people everything, including their lives. Freedom isn’t free, but it is infinitely valuable.
 
On Sunday we will exercise our freedom and gather to worship here in God’s house at New Creation UMC.  As we do we will celebrate another form of freedom; a freedom that has also been purchased for us by the shedding of blood; the blood of God’s only Son.  Scripture says, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36)

On Sunday we will remember and celebrate His sacrifice that offers us that freedom as we observe Holy Communion.  If you want to be truly free, free from all that has tied your life down and buried you under a mountainous weight of fear and guilt, then this Sunday’s message is for you.

See you on Sunday!

Randy
 

Shipwrecked

Have you ever been out to sea during a storm? A storm feels much more intense when you are at the mercy of the sea, being tossed about, unsure if you will ever see blue skies again. In our scripture from Acts, Paul and other prisoners find themselves in a big storm at sea. They spent 15 days in a horrible storm until they are shipwrecked.
 
Maybe you haven't been in a shipwreck on sea, but perhaps you have felt shipwrecked due to a broken relationship, life not turning out like you had planned, finances sinking you, grief overwhelming you, or an illness sapping you. These storms seem just as intense as a storm on the water, leaving you without much hope.
 
Paul models for us how to face a storm head on, by keeping his trust and faith in Christ. Beginning on Sunday evening our Vacation Bible School participants will be looking at how Jesus rescues us from the shipwreck. Please be in prayer for our Vacation Bible School leaders, volunteer, children and their families as they discover God's love in amazing ways.
 
Rosemary Dorow will be bringing the message at our Modern service, about Doing a New Thing and sharing a new endeavor our church is undertaking called Next Level Innovations. We look forward to worshiping our amazing God with you.
 
Blessings,
 
Stephanie

Doing a New Thing

A Message from the Pastor

 
This weekend I along with Pastor Stephanie and our other lay delegates will be attending the 2017 Virginia United Methodist Annual Conference in Hampton.  This is a very significant time in the life of the church as clergy and lay delegates from all over the conference convene to do the business of our Conference. 

Each year when conference arrives it is a wonderful mix of business and inspiration.  This year will be no different.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Servant Leaders Making a Difference;” guided by the scriptural passage of 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

It is such a blessing to be a part of this great conference of the United Methodist Church and to see the amazing things God is doing through our church here in Virginia and around the world.  I pray that God will continue to inspire us to do our part to further the work of His kingdom here in our Western Branch community and united with our sisters and brothers all around the world.

On Sunday we will have one of New Creation’s servant leaders, Rosemary Dorow, share the message at our Praise and Traditional services. Rosemary heads up our 2020 Vision Task Force. She will be introducing the congregation to a new and exciting process called Next Level Innovations (NLI) that our church has been chosen to participate in that will incorporate the work already accomplished by the Task Force and help us identify and implement some innovations that will propel our church into an even greater future of dynamic ministry. You will not want to miss her presentation!

See you Sunday
Randy

The Provision of the Holy Spirit

To follow Jesus, one must be a disciple, ambassador, and member.  Following Jesus is more than just believing in him, it is belonging.  Believing without belonging makes us spiritual orphans!  To truly realize what it means to follow Christ, we need to be part of a church family.  The church is the body of Christ.  A member is only valuable when it is connected to the body.  Therefore, if we truly want to realize the power of Jesus in their lives, we must be connected to a church family.  Many see the church as a building or an event, but more than that, it is a family in relationship with God.  There is a significant difference between attending a church service and being a member of a church family. 
 
This week as we continue our series Catch the Spirit we are going to be looking at one of greatest gifts that the Holy Spirit provides in our lives; the gift of a spiritual family. As we allow ourselves to be filled with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit then we have a bond of unity with other believers.
 
The early church is a powerful example of this. We read in Acts 2:42-47 that after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles there was an overwhelming since of unity. In those powerful verses we catch a glimpse of the Spirit’s provision:

  •  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”
  •  “They devoted themselves…to the fellowship”
  • “They devoted themselves… to the breaking of bread”
  •  “They devoted themselves…to prayer”
  •  “They gave to anyone as he had a need…”
  •  “They praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people”

 
And the scripture tells the result was nothing short of miraculous: “Everyday, the number in their group continued to grow as the Lord added those who were being saved.”
 
You cannot truly follow Jesus without being connected in relationship to a church family.  Others may feel that they don’t need to be connected, but they will never be able realize Christ in their lives without a group to belong to.  You can’t be a football player without belonging to a team. You can’t be a soldier without belonging to a platoon.  You can’t be a bee without belonging to a hive.  Who do you know who claims to know Christ but does not belong to a church family? 
 
Join your church family in worship this Sunday as we Catch the Spirit!
 
Randy

The Power of the Holy Spirit

Did you know:  That yesterday, May 24 was a special day in United Methodist History?  Two hundred eighty years ago on May 24, 1738, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, “Went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street (London), where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
 
That experience not only transformed Wesley’s heart, but it also ignited a movement from which our theological and doctrinal heritage as Methodists was born.
 
Wesley’s “heart-warming” experience seems very similar to me of the experience that the disciples had as they gathered together 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection on the Day of Pentecost. Suddenly they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind. They saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. These were miraculous signs of the gift that Jesus had promised, the gift of the Holy Spirit. And as with Wesley the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit changed everything!
 
This group of frightened, uneducated disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit then went on to change the world by sharing the message of the Good News of the gospel.
 
Do you ever wish you could have that kind of power in your life? The good news is that you can. The truth is that Pentecost is your birthright as a follower of Jesus. Here’s what Paul says in Romans. He says, “The very same power, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
 
This Sunday we will begin a three-part message series entitled, Catch the Spirit. We will be talking about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. This week we will look at the power that the Spirit gives us.
 
Please also take time this weekend to stop and to say a prayer for all our troops and their families.  Pray a special prayer of thanksgiving for those who have made the ultimate
sacrifice and their families who mourn.  If you are not traveling, I hope you will join us for worship on Sunday as we will be observing Memorial Day with a special litany and prayer
of remembrance.
 
Randy

Pentecost

Fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, the disciples experienced another holy and crazy event on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down to earth in the form of a mighty, rushing wind and as tongues of fire. Jesus had promised throughout his ministry the Holy Spirit was coming to be with the disciples until the end of the age, and finally this promise came true. 


Join us at our 8:30 a.m. praise service as we look at the scripture from Acts that describes the first Pentecost and as we explore how we continue to benefit from the Holy Spirit. 
 
Our confirmation students will be leading us in worship at our 11 a.m. blended service in the Sanctuary as they are confirmed in the faith and become full members of the church. What a celebration for our church, as many have taught these young people and nurtured them in the faith, and now they are ready to take the vows of membership for themselves.
 
Please wear red, a color used to symbolize the Holy Spirit, as we celebrate all God is doing in and among us. We worship an amazing God who continues to transform each of us through the Holy Spirit!
 
Pastor Stephanie

 

A Model of Motherhood

t was Sunday at church and a little girl was to recite the Scripture that she had memorized for the occasion.  When she got in front of the congregation, the sight of hundreds of eyes staring at her caused her to freeze and forget her memory verse.
 
Every line that she had so carefully rehearsed faded from her mind and she stood there unable to utter a single word.  Sitting there in the front row, her mother was almost as frantic as the little girl.  The mother gestured, moving her lips, trying to form the words for the child, but it did no good.
 
Finally, the mother in desperation whispered the opening phrase of the memorized Scripture: “I am the light of the world…”
 
Immediately the child’s face lit up with a smile, as she stood tall and now said with supreme confidence: “My mother is the light of the world.”
 
Sunday is Mother’s Day; a day that we set aside once a year to honor mothers, a day to show our appreciation and gratitude to the one who has given up so much of their lives for you and me.
 
But you know mothers deserve more than just one day to honor all that they mean to us. Moms these days have a pretty tough job, don’t they? They have to juggle all of the responsibilities of children, home, family, community, work, school, church. Mother’s doctor us when we are sick. They console us when we are hurt. They comfort us when we are afraid. They love us with an unconditional love.
 
John Killinger in his book Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise includes the following affirmation:
“I believe in the love of all mothers, and its importance in the lives of the children they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down, and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments, and enables the weakest child to stand tall and straight in the fields of adversity. I believe that this love, even at its best, is only a shadow of the love of God, a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him, both in this life and in the next.”
 
I hope that each of you will pause a truly thank God for the wonderful gift that he has given each of us in our mothers.  They are truly a light in our world!  Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!  We love you!!

Randy

It's About Time

"I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it,
Didn’t choose it
But it’s up to me to use it
I must suffer if I lose it
Give account if I abuse it
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it!"
 
-Dr. Benjamin Mays
 

This little poem by Dr. Benjamin Mays has a critical message for us.  It is a powerful reminder to us of the value of time.  Time is one of our most valuable commodities.  Each day, each hour, each minute is a gift from God, and we are called to be stewards of that time.
 
When was the last time that you slowed down long enough to give some serious thought to how you choose to use your time? 
 
On Sunday as we continue the first portion of our series God’s Plans…Our Hands we are going to turn our attention toward the stewardship of the gift of the time God has given us.  Our stewardship is the expression of our faith as we manage our lives and resources for God’s purposes. It is the wise management of who we are and all that we have, including
our time.
 
Please remember to prayerfully consider the Time and Talent Survey that you were given during worship last week. Bring your completed survey with you as together we will offer them to God as an expression of dedication and commitment as we receive the Lord’s Supper. If you did not receive a survey, we will have some available for you to complete on Sunday
or you may click on the "Time and Talent Survey" link below where you will find the document is attached.

 
I hope you will take the time to join us in worship on Sunday.  I promise you it will be time
well spent!
 
Blessings!
 
Randy

What's In Your Hand?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
 (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

 
God has given you unique abilities, talents, and gifts. This bundle of talents is the thing God has given you that makes you who you are and sets you apart from other people.
 
If you think your talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life. God gave you talents to benefit others.  And God gave other people talents that benefit you.
We’re all a part of the body of Christ, and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. Whether you are a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others.
 
You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. Are you using what He’s given you for the benefit of others to make the world a better place? Or are you just using those talents to benefit yourself?
 
On Sunday we will continue our stewardship emphasis as we look at how we use our talents to help God fulfill His purposes in this world.
 
We will also have the privilege of welcoming students, parents, and staff from KinderPrep into our 11:00 Traditional service as we celebrate Kinderprep Sunday.
 
See you Sunday
 
Randy

Restored

One of our favorite family traditions is Saturday breakfast. Since the boys were little most every Saturday morning we would get up and head to our favorite breakfast spot and enjoy a good breakfast together. In Wakefield we had the Virginia Diner and their famous ham biscuits. In Danville we loved Biscuitville and Hardees and their famous chicken biscuits. In Sterling our go to place was Joe’s Diner where they made the biggest and fluffiest pancakes ever. Back home here in Chesapeake we enjoy the Egg Bistro where I think they make the best meat lovers omelet I have ever had.
 
But for us Duncans the thing that makes Saturday breakfast so wonderful is not the food – as awesome as that is. It’s the MEMORIES we’ve made there—sharing the laughter and conversation around the table. Telling stories and sharing the joy of life together as a family. We’ve had some truly memorable BREAKFASTS in all of these places.
 
I mention this because this week we come to the end of our Change Ahead series—and in this final message we will be looking at a particularly memorable breakfast—one prepared by Jesus Himself. But at this meal Peter experienced much more than good food. He had a special conversation with Jesus in which Peter learned the steps he had to take to leave his most recent failure behind and continue on his journey to become more like our Master.
 
In our message I want to talk about how we can be restored when we fail—because like Peter we all fail. We all foul-up. And if we learn to respond correctly, as Peter did here, God can and will work in even our mistakes for our good. That’s one of the wonderful things about our faith. Our Lord specializes in second chances.
 
Randy

Peace Be With You

An artist was commissioned by a wealthy man to paint something that would depict peace. After a great deal of thought, the artist painted a beautiful country scene. There were green fields, birds were flying in the blue sky, and a lovely little village lay in a distant valley. The artist gave the picture to the man, but there was a look of disappointment on his face. The man said to the artist, “This isn’t a picture of true peace. It isn’t right. Go back and try again.
 
The artist went back to his studio, thought for several hours about peace, then went to his canvas and began to paint. When he finished, there was a beautiful picture of a mother, holding a sleeping baby in her arms, smiling lovingly at the child. He thought, surely, this is true peace, and hurried to give the picture to the wealthy man. But again, the wealthy man refused the painting and asked the painter to try again.
 
The artist returned to his studio. He was discouraged, he was tired, and he was disappointed. Again, he thought, he even prayed for inspiration to paint a picture of true peace. Then, all of a sudden, an idea came. He rushed to the canvas. When he finished, he hurried to the wealthy man. He gave the painting to the man. He studied it carefully for several minutes and said, “Now this is a picture of true peace.” He accepted the painting, paid the artist, and everyone was happy.
 
And what was this picture of true peace? The painting showed a stormy sea pounding against a cliff. The artist had captured the fury of the wind as it whipped black rain clouds with streaks of lightning. And in the middle of the picture, under a cliff, the artist had painted a small bird, safe and dry in her nest snuggled safely in the rocks. The bird was at peace amidst the storm that raged about her.
 
In our story for this week, Jesus’ disciples find themselves in the midst of a storm. They had witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, and now they were gathered together behind closed doors. Fear deprived them of the peace they so desperately needed; fear they would be found by the Jews; fear of what the Jewish leaders were going to do; fear of life without hope, stripped them of any peace.
 
In the midst of the disciple’s storm, Jesus came and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus imparts the peace the disciples so desperately needed. In the midst of the storm, He is with them, and they had nothing to fear.
 
Join us on Sunday as we learn how Jesus can give us that same peace in the midst of the storms and trials of life.
 
Randy

Walking With Jesus

A few years ago, the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus.

So the woman went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified that the tortilla had changed her life, and her husband agreed that she had been a more peaceful, happy, and loving woman since the tortilla had arrived. The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, was somewhat reluctant but agreed to do it.

The woman took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than 8,000 people came to the shrine of the Jesus of the Tortilla, and all of them agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus (except for one reporter who said he thought it looked like former heavy-weight boxing champion Leon Spinks).

This story reminds us that we can often see Jesus in unexpected places.  He often makes an appearance when we least expect it.  This Sunday we will consider a story where two disciples encountered Jesus in an unexpected way.  That encounter changed their life.  Where have you encountered Jesus recently?  I hope you will join us as we encounter Christ in the midst of our worship.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Randy

Easter Changes Everything

Can you think of a day that changed your life? Most of us probably can. The day that changed your life may have been a very good day, or it may have been a very bad day. One of my favorite "life-changing" days was July 7, 1984. That's the day when I married my beautiful wife, Robin. We spent a lot of time preparing for that day. We invited our family and friends, and we worked hard to make sure that everything would happen just as we had planned it. It was an awesome day! It was filled with happiness, joy, tears, laughter, and celebration; but it wasn't just the events of that day that changed my life. That day changed my life because it changed every day that has come after it. Our marriage started on that beautiful July evening, but it has been defined by all of the days that have happened since then. July 7, 1984, was a life-changing day because of what it started and what it made possible.
 
This weekend we remember the most important life-changing day; the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You see, the reality is that Easter Changes Everything. Without Easter, without the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity has no foundation. Without the work of Christ, we are lost in our sin and have no hope for eternity. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus changes every part of our lives, every day of our lives.
 
But we shouldn't allow the celebration and the reality of the resurrection to be forgotten when Easter is over. In fact, Easter should only be the beginning. If we take time to consider the work of Christ one weekend a year, then we are missing the point. The work of Jesus is supposed to be something that changes every part of our lives, every day of our lives.
 
The day that Robin and I were married was incredible. Every year on July 7 we take time to look back and remember that beautiful day, but our marriage is much more than a wedding day and a series of anniversaries. We spend the other three hundred and sixty-four days a year loving one another and fulfilling the promises that we made on that day. With each anniversary that passes, I love her more. Not because of the anniversary, but because that day marks another year that I have spent learning about her and loving her. When we love each other well, anniversaries become sweet celebrations of that love.
 
I pray that this will be a year when your love for Jesus grows. I hope that you spend the upcoming year learning who Jesus is and how you can love Him more deeply. I encourage you to take time each day to consider the life-changing benefits of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. My marriage would not be worth anything if I only thought about it and enjoyed it on our anniversary. In the same way, your relationship with Jesus should be a daily relationship.
 
Try to take time each day to thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice and His awesome gift of salvation. As you learn to focus on Jesus throughout the year, Easter will become sweeter with each year that passes.
 
Easter Changes Everything. I pray that it changes everything for you, every day.


Randy

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It Is Finished

On March 4, 1841, William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the United States, delivered the longest inaugural speech on record. It contained over 9,000 words-for your information, that’s about five or six Sunday sermons!

 Now, President Harrison must have been VERY impressed with his prepared comments that day because, in spite of the fact that it was raining and unseasonably cold, he still refused to shorten his inaugural address. He would not step down from the podium and instead stood there for two solid hours delivering his lengthy speech. Well, because of his stubborn long-windedness that bitterly cold day, President Harrison got pneumonia and then died one short month later on April 4, 1841. You could accurately say “No president has ever said more and done less.
 
Now, if we were to contrast Harrison’s presidency and Jesus’ death on the cross and the words He spoke there; those few but critically important words and phrases we’ve been studying for the past five weeks, wouldn’t you agree that this comparison would lead us to say the opposite? In regard to Jesus, we could accurately say, “No man has ever said less and done more!”
 
This week we will be focusing on Jesus’ last sayings from the cross. After having been given sour vinegar to drink, Jesus clears His throat and utters these three words, “It is finished!” We will see how Jesus used this opportunity to victoriously declare that everything that was set out for Him to do as the Messiah was finished. This was not a cry as much as it was a pronouncement. This was not the wail of a helpless martyr. It was not the gasp of a worn-out life. These were not words of defeat or desperation. Jesus wasn’t saying, “I am finished” or “Oh My goodness it’s finished. It’s over. I’ve failed!” Nor was it a word of relief. Jesus wasn’t saying, “Oh, am I glad it’s finished!” No! This is a word of triumph! These were words of a conqueror claiming victory!
 
I invite you to join us on Sunday as we see how these victorious words help us to live hopefully and confidently during the darkest moments of our lives.

Randy

I Thirst

This Sunday we are looking at Jesus' words "I Thirst."
As humans, to thirst is normal. When I lived in Los Angeles
I loved to take hikes with friends. Not all Angelinos (people who live in Los Angeles) would agree about
this, but Los Angeles is a desert. On those hikes I would
be amazed at how much water I would drink and still
be thirsty.

Being out in the intense sun was great for the soul but hard on the body!
 
In the last few months I have been regularly leaving the house in the mornings with a full water bottle to remind myself to drink more water. Without the visual reminder sometimes I would get to lunch feeling like my mouth is completely dry, only to realize I have not had anything to drink since breakfast. We all thirst, no matter what climate we live in!
 
John in his Gospel tells us that Jesus said these words, "I Thirst," to fulfill scripture. The psalmist alluded to the messiah becoming thirsty. Jesus himself told of water that would cause us to never be thirsty again. Join us as we look at what scriptures Jesus fulfilled in this short but profound passage and what it will mean to never thirst again.

Blessings, Pastor Stephanie

Here is Your Mother

There is a chorus that I used to sing that says, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!"  Those words ring true for us here at New Creation United Methodist Church.  We are a family, sisters, and brothers together in faith and love.

When Jesus came to earth and began His ministry, He redefined the way that we understand family. He expanded our understanding of family to go beyond just our biological family or our family tree to include spiritual family. He added spiritual DNA to our understanding of family, because He said, "Anybody who does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, my sister, my mother" (Mark 3:35). He helped us understand family from a whole new perspective.

Now, this doesn't negate our responsibilities to one another in our blood-bonds of family. Instead, it expanded it, because He looked at family from His Heavenly Father's perspective. And we see this illustrated in a compelling and poignant way in Jesus' last words from the cross.

Jesus is suffering and is about to die when he speaks this third word, a word instructing his friend to care for his mother. This is a tender scene.   Jesus in his great hour of need is showing compassion for his mother and making sure that in the future she will be cared for. I believe there is also something more profound being conveyed here than merely honoring thy father and mother.

I believe Jesus is birthing the first church. Being part of the church, the body of Christ, means that we are united with others in new family, bound together by the bonds of the Spirit which run deeper than blood and family ties.

So we do what families do. We eat together. We spend time together. We help each other. We give counsel and support. When we do, we follow in the footsteps of the first Christians: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). We bring others in who have no family.

Last week it was awesome to see so many of our church family in our worship services! It was inspiring to sense the energy and feel the Spirit moving as each of our three services had excellent attendance and participation. There is something special that happens when we gather together as a church family to worship. I encourage you to come to worship again anticipating the love and encouragement of your brothers and sisters but more importantly the power and presence of Christ in our midst as we continue our Lenten series Cross Words.
 
Randy

Today, You Will Be With Me in Paradise

It's been said that a man or a woman can be known by the company they keep. We’ve all heard this before. And that’s true. A lot can be known about Jesus by the company that He chooses to keep. When we read in the gospels the people that Jesus most often chose to associate with, they were sinners. They were people who were like lost sheep and had strayed away from God; and their lifestyle was anything but righteous. What does that tell us about Jesus?

And yet at the same time we can probably understand how that made the righteous people – or should I say the self-righteous – feel. And we can understand how the religious leaders of the day might say about Jesus, “Here’s a man that’s supposed to be pious, he’s supposed to be a teacher of Israel and yet he was associating with people who were reprobates.” The religious people were upset by the company that Jesus kept, and they said that really demonstrates his character.

What is striking about Jesus wasn’t just His teaching, wasn’t just His healing; it was above all else, how he would welcome, love, accept, embrace, and include everybody that came up to Him. We see in Jesus, and we see it throughout His ministry. In Luke 19:10 we find what we might call Jesus’ personal mission statement. Jesus said this, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.”

How fitting it is then that in death Jesus is still associating with people like that. On either side of Jesus as He hung on the cross were two men that the world had thrown away and condemned. And yet even when He’s dying, even when He could hardly breathe as He hangs in agony on the cross, Jesus is still reaching out to seek and to save that which was lost.

Join us on Sunday as we continue our Cross Words message series as we hear Jesus’ words of grace to the dying thief, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

 

Randy

 

Love in Action

I’d like to share with you several statistics I read recently about the people who make up
this planet:
 

  • There are nearly 7 billion people in the world.
  • 1 in 7 does not have enough to eat.
  • 1 in 6 does not have access to safe water.
  • 1 in 6 does not have access to the most basic health care.
  • 1 in 2 lives on less than $2 a day.
  • 800 million (about 2.5 times the population of the US) go hungry every day.
  • Every 7 seconds, a child under 5 dies from a hunger related cause.

 
Now I’d like to share with you about the church in America.
 

  • The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than $5,000 billion.)
  • American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth.
  • It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest 1 billion people out of extreme poverty.

 
Is there a hole in the church?  Is there something we are missing?
 
This week we are going to take a look at one of the primary reasons we exist as the church. We are called to be in mission. We are commanded by the Lord to reach out beyond our walls and meet the needs of people everywhere. I am so proud that this is so much a part of the fabric of who we are at New Creation.
 
Join us as we celebrate our missions ministry!
 
Randy