Faith: A Journey and A Relationship

On Thursday of this week, on the 4th of July we celebrated our nation’s 243rd birthday. It was nearly two and a half centuries ago that the United States 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 in God’s house at New Creation. 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.

We will remember and celebrate His sacrifice that offers us that freedom as we observe Holy Communion. Please join us as we gather to worship our Lord who said, “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)

Randy

Catch the Spirit

Have you ever been to the circus? One of my favorite circus acts is the trapeze act. The trapeze artist stands on a high pedestal, and they swing out on one bar, and another bar comes swinging out from the other direction, and they grab onto it – they let go of this one, and they swing on over to the other side.

If you’ve ever watched this carefully, the trapeze bars never actually touch. There’s a gap between them. So, at some point when the trapeze artist is going across, they have to swing out on one and let go of it before they grab on to the next one. But the forward motion of that swinging out keeps propelling them. They let go of this, and they grab on to that, and they swing on to the next side. But at some point, even if for a split second, they’re holding on to nothing a hundred, two hundred feet up. And that can be a scary place to be. The good news is there is always another bar there for them to grasp hold of to carry them to the other side.

In a way, this is where we find ourselves as a church. We are in that neutral zone, moving from what’s familiar, through something called the neutral zone, to a new reality. This neutral zone can be exhausting, frightening, and confusing. It is also the crucible in which you will grow in ways you could never imagine.

My prayer is that we will continue to give thanks and celebrate all that God has provided to get us to where we are and that we will reach out in faith and trust God to provide and allow God’s strong arms to catch us and carry us forward to the other side.

Keep praying for breakthrough!

Randy

God's Servants Working Together

The Gateway
June 14, 2019
4320 Bruce Road, Chesapeake, VA 23321 — 757-484-8217

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Worship This Sunday

It has been a true honor to have spent the last 6 years as your Associate Pastor. We have been through some big changes together, a lead pastor change, moving two campuses into one, living into our new name, as well as celebrating new life among us. We have lost some    of our beloved members and experienced tragedies together as well. Thank you for trusting me with your lives and allowing me to be a small influence on your faith journey. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3, God gives all the growth as I have had the blessing of planting seeds and cultivating the seeds other planted before me. I am overjoyed that Pastor Spencer and Pastor Randy will continue to plant and cultivate seeds at New Creation and in our Western Branch community. 
 
Paul writes that we are all God's servants, working together together for the glory of God. Thank you for your grace as I have grown as a your pastor. You all were instrumental in helping to mold me into a faithful pastor. Thank you for your forgiveness when I made mistakes and forgot to trust God. Thank you for trying new things with me and trusting      that God had spoken. I have always been amazed at the prayer life and deep study of        God's scriptures at New Creation and I pray you all continue to grow in Christ. God will continue    to bless you all with faithful leaders and guests so we can continue God's work    for God's kingdom. 
 
I do not do goodbye's well, so instead this is a "see you later." My home church sang "God Be with You till We Meet Again" at the end of every worship service and what a perfect benediction, God will be with you, and with me, until we meet again!

Blessings,
Pastor Stephanie

Breathe Deep

Today, we celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost is the Sunday of the Christian year when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first apostles.  This dramatic and miraculous event manifest through the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the appearance of flames of fire was the birthday of the Church.  When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they received the power that Jesus had promised.  It was that power of the Holy Spirit that then so filled them that they went out boldly to spread the message of the gospel to all the world, and thus the church was born.
  
Before Pentecost, the disciples had been a rag-tag crew of well-meaning but ineffectual followers. After Pentecost, these same disciples became such powerful witnesses that it was said of one of the disciples, Simon Peter, that his mere shadow passing over a physically distressed person could bring healing. Before Pentecost, the disciples were fearful, fickle followers who could not be depended upon even to stay awake while their Master was praying. After Pentecost, they were willing to face persecution, even surrender themselves to torture and death in order to testify that this same Master had been raised from the dead.  Before Pentecost, they were pathetic, listless, timid. After Pentecost, they were filled with power, Spirit power, and they went out to win the world.  This was Christ’s legacy to the world. A Spirit-filled church. And that, of course, is who we are intended to be today--a power-filled, purpose-driven community of faith making a dramatic difference in the world.
 
Pentecost is a good day for us to take account of our discipleship, both individually and corporately. Are we the kind of force in the world that Christ has called us to be?
 
Randy

Abide in the Vine

It was one of the most effective advertising campaigns in recent history. It featured a tall, thin, kind of gangly looking fellow. He’s wearing black, horned-rimmed glasses and looks like he might be an accountant or computer geek. He’s got a cell phone in his hand and a serious look on his face. And everywhere he goes, no matter how remote or strange a place, he’s got one thing to say.
 
“Can you hear me now?”
 
What was the ad? It was VERIZON. Why was it so successful an ad that they kept running it and running it and running it some more? Because it made VERIZON a lot of money. And why is that? Because Americans are OBSESSED with being “connected.”  Whether it’s by cell phones; email; social networking sites – people, it seems, can’t go even a few minutes without connecting. Sometimes it’s about business, other times it’s all about pleasure, but staying connected is key.
 
That gets me wondering about another connection – our connection with God. The reality is that staying connected with God, for a lot a people, doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as staying connected with their friends on Facebook or Instagram. If it was, preachers would boast about having millions of millions of members in their churches – but we know that isn’t true.
 
So on Sunday as we finish the first segment of our series Breakthrough Stewardship…Investing in Relationships we will talk some about “staying connected” with God. In one of His most famous sayings, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  On Sunday we will explore this powerful passage and discover ways we can keep our connection strong.

Randy

Better Together

Recently the Stewardship Team has prayerfully chosen “Breakthrough Stewardship… Investing in Relationships” as our 2019 theme as we focus on fulfilling God’s Plans by building closer relationships with our Lord, our church family, and with those in our community.  Personal relationships are the foundation for personal growth and development for individuals as well as our church family. Building close personal relationships help us use our time, talents, and treasures to more effectively serve Him.
As the church, our people are our greatest resource. As we travel together on the journey of faith the bonds of love and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the church provide us with great strength and encouragement. We are better together!
We have witnessed that within our congregation recently in several beautiful and powerful ways:
The Last Supper Drama was a powerful service of worship. It also brought many new members into a deeper connection to the church and to one another.
Easter Sunday was an awesome day of worship and celebration of the resurrection of the Lord. We had a total of 761 people in attendance in our services; the most it's been in recent years.
Our Family Series has made us aware of the vital importance that our children and youth have in the life of our church. We all have responsibility to mentor and nurture these young people in faith.
The 5:17 Prayer Vigil and Service was a powerful time of worship and testimony as we sang praise to God and heard our members share testimonies of God’s Breakthroughs in their lives.
Clean-up Day brought out over 30 volunteers (including children and youth) to do some spring cleaning of our building and grounds.
 Last Sunday’s conclusion of the Family series was awesome! It was amazing to see members of both of our Praise Teams along with members of the Chancel Choir all join together as one to present a special song.
This week we will begin the first portion of three-part series of messages to help us recognize the tremendous value of our relationships with one another. We are truly better together!
Randy
 
 

It's Just a Phase

It's just a phase . . . so don't miss it. 
 
Every one of us can point to somebody who showed up to make a difference in the different phases of our life. And because someone showed up for us, we should show up for somebody who needs us now in whatever phase they’re in. One of the best ways to show up is to understand the six things every kid and teenager needs. Last week, we introduced you to the first three things that every kid or teenager needs from their parents and adults who want to have an influence on the next generation.
 
Every kid and teenager needs…
            TIME over TIME because it gives a relationship HISTORY.
            LOVE over TIME because it gives them a sense of WORTH.
            WORDS over TIME because it gives their life DIRECTION.
 
Allow me to share something personal about myself, and this won’t go into too much detail. I grew up in a very turbulent household. My father was violent and his violent nature took over our family’s home. There were many times where I felt unsafe, unwanted, and unloved. I credit the many adults who decided to show up in my life--grandparents, teachers, church members, neighbors, Scout leaders, and adults who simply cared--for carrying me through that time in my life. Few people know that Robin Duncan (Ms. D!) was my chorus teacher through the worst season of my middle school years when my family began to implode. Her hospitality and mentorship provided a safe place for me to shelter in that storm. She is just one of the many adults who showed up for me every single week.
 
The expression “It takes a village to raise a kid” has been shared with me several times in the past few weeks. I feel this expression falls short in that it only addresses the number of people needed in a loving community to help parents raise adults. It fails to address the amount of consistent TIME that is needed to raise a kid. Please remember over the coming weeks: everything that we must do if we want to have a positive influence in the life of a kid and teenager must be repeated OVER TIME. I am thankful for those adults who remained in my life not just on the days when things seemed the roughest, but were there for me OVER TIME. They were the key to my survival and set me up for who I am today.
 
Join us this Sunday for the continuation of our series on family and what it means to show up in the lives of kids and students. We’ll share with you the last three things that every kid and teenager needs OVER TIME. Gail, Kym, and I are excited to continue to share this message series with you all!
 
With love and blessings,
Jeremy Crum, Director of Ministries with Young People

It's Just a Phase

It’s just a phase… so don’t miss it!

Last Sunday, we redefined phase as a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence a kid’s future. Whether or not you are a parent, this applies to you! We all have stories from when an adult stepped into our lives and changed our future. As you prepare for this Sunday’s message, I encourage you to think about those adults who made investments over time in your future.

This Spring, we have been blessed by several members of our church who have either shared or donated marbles to our Ministries (one member donated over 1800). We hope that you have enjoyed the marble displays outside of the Sanctuary. As we’ve thought about a kid or teenager’s future, we’ve been thinking a lot about these marbles. You see, a kid has 936 weeks from when they are born until they become an adult. Marbles give us a visual representation to see the collective value of our influence over time. When you decide to be physically and consistently present—week after week after week—your influence begins to have a cumulative effect. We may not see the immediate results and we may be tempted to become frustrated and back out. When you decide, either as a parent or as a Christ-follower, to be present physically and consistently in the life of a kid or teenager, amazing things will happen for that kid or teenager.

It’s not just a jar of marbles; it’s your time. Gail, Kym, and I are excited to share the first three things that kids and teenagers need from the adults in their lives (and the adults who want to influence their lives) over time.

With love and blessings,
Jeremy Crum, Director of Ministries with Young People

It's Just a Phase

It's just a phase . . . so don't miss it.

Whether or not you’re a parent, we all have kids in our lives. And if you care about the future of the world, or at least the future of those kids, you need to have influence. And . . .

. . . your best chance to have an influence in someone’s life is to actually show up.

It’s impossible to remember what it was like in preschool. Nobody does.

It’s difficult to remember what it was like in elementary school. It was a long time ago.

It’s scary to remember what it was like in middle school. Most of us have blocked it out.

It’s easy for us to remember what it was like in high school. Or, we’d like to think so.  

Odds are, it's difficult for us to remember much about what it was like growing up, let alone knowing what it's like for kids today. But one thing we can remember is the people who showed up for us.

If you knew that you had 936 opportunities (sounds like a lot, right?) to influence the faith of a generation, would you take on the challenge? Would you be willing to stand in the gap with parents and families?

As a part of this series, we are offering a new study called Parenting Through the Phases. We’re inviting parents, grandparents, step-parents, any adult who is helping to raise a kid or teenager, or any adult who wants to influence the faith of a generation to participate. These are inspiring, guilt-free parenting small groups that will help you make the most of the developmental phase your child or teen is in right now. It’s never too late, even if you’re parenting a twelfth grader.

Join us this Sunday for the beginning of a new series on family and what it means to show up in the lives of kids and students. Gail, Kym, and I are excited to share this message series with you all!

With love and blessings,
Jeremy Crum, Director of Ministries with Young People

Easter Hope

This year once again we gather during Holy Week and remember and reflect upon the story of the Passion, Christ’s trial, crucifixion, death, and burial together.  Two thousand years after the Christ’s death, however we have the luxury of being what some call “Easter people.”  
We know how the story plays out, and we know that Jesus does not stay in the tomb.  As much as the story affects us when we hear it again, we have that consolation. Good Friday is not the end.

Yet today as much as we are Easter people, much of the time we still live in a Good Friday world.  That means that on most mornings, a fair number of people are feeling the same way the disciples must have been that day. They’re wondering where hope has gone. They’re crying out for another way. They’re listening for any news that suffering doesn’t win. That death doesn’t get the last word. That God is so good, and so full of grace, that God doesn’t give up on the world, and the stone rolls away from the tomb.

There is a world that needs to hear that. Maybe even you need to hear that. I know there are days when I need to hear that.  And I don’t think I’m alone.  And that’s what the Easter story teaches me.  Good Friday is not the end of the story.  Love wins.  There is hope.  Light overcomes darkness.  Sin and death have been defeated.  


On Easter Sunday we will offer six different Easter Celebration Worship Services:

6:30 AM           Sunrise Service             Front lawn of New Creation UMC
6:30 AM           Sunrise Service             Bennett’s Creek Park pavilion
8:00 AM           Praise Service                Sanctuary
9:30 AM           Traditional Service      Sanctuary
11:00 AM        Traditional Service      Sanctuary
11:00 AM        Modern Service            Fellowship Hall

Please find someone who needs to hear the good news of Easter Hope this year and invite them to join you on Sunday as we celebrate this glorious Good News!

Randy

Proclaiming the Kingdom

In our 5:17 Breakthrough Prayer we have been asking for God to, “Show us how to make a difference in our community and in the world.” God has been answering that prayer! This week we want to share with you a Breakthrough Testimony from one of our church members, Sheila Poindexter:
 
We first started giving out the Breakthrough Prayer Cards at the Food Pantry and explained to
the people what we would like them to join us in doing with this prayer and what it means.
Then I decided to keep some in my purse since we had extras, and when I sense God guiding me to share a card and explanation with someone -usually a stranger - I do.  I can't tell you the peace and joy I receive when I let God lead me in doing this.  Since I have been a member of New Creation, first through Grace Harbor, I am not as shy about sharing the Lord with others and sometimes in strange and different ways, yet effective.  
 
Just recently I went to a new dentist and at the end of the visit I was put with the lady in charge of explaining cost, procedures etc.  When I went in the office that day, I felt like I was supposed to share with someone, but didn't know who, and then the Lord gave me a strong push to give and share with her.  She thanked me and said she would share with her Mom who is a pastor in a non-denominational church.   It definitely pays to let the Lord lead; He truly gives and gave me boldness as our prayer says in the end.  Amen!
 
Thank you, Sheila for allowing God to use you to make a difference! If you have a Breakthrough that you would like to share, please pass it along to us.
 
Sunday, we continue our series entitled Gospel. This week is also Palm Sunday. As we celebrate Jesus our King making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we will also be exploring the kind of Kingdom that He came to usher in. Invite a friend and join us for an exciting week of worship!
 
Randy

Holiness of Heart and Life

I have spent the last few days in Disney World after helping my son, Ricky, relocate to a new home in Orlando. As I was walking through the Magic Kingdom, I passed one of the most popular attractions, Peter Pan’s Flight. The ride takes you through the scenes of the classic movie, Peter Pan. During the ride you hear one of the movie’s most famous songs. It goes    like this:

I won't grow up,
I don't want to go to school.
Just to learn to be a parrot,
And recite a silly rule.
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!

Peter Pan is the boy who wouldn’t grow up. He doesn’t want any responsibility. He doesn’t want to go to school. He wants to go and come as he pleases. He wants to live all of his life in “Never-Never Land” where he and his friends can laugh and play and battle the evil Captain Hook forever without ever having to grow up.

Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up makes a charming story on the movie screen. But a Peter Pan Christian, the man or woman who will not grow up, make a tragedy in real life.

The Christian life is a journey. It is a path that each of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ walk. And there is one thing that is certain, it is impossible to stand still in the Christian life: we either go forward and claim God’s blessing, or we go backward and wander about aimlessly. We do not live in a “Never-Never Land.” We live in God’s world. And it is a fact that, whether we like it or not, we all must grow up.

This week as we continue our series entitled Gospel, we will look at the process of growth in the Christian life. In our Methodist theology we call this process of growth, sanctification. Join us as we explore how we grow up in holiness of heart and life.

Randy

Transformation

We as a church have now been praying for 3 months our Breakthrough prayer. We have been praying for God to breakthrough in our lives and in our church and community. Many of you have been sharing these breakthroughs, as God has nudged you to do something or you have had an answer to prayer. 

Kathy Williams had a powerful breakthrough to share: I was recently at a local store looking at furniture.  After seeing various styles of furniture, the salesperson and I sat down to talk about prices.  While we were talking, the alarm on my phone started playing "Morning Has Broken" at 5:17 pm.  As was I pulling my phone out of my purse and stopping the alarm I apologized and told the salesperson it was time to pray.  She looked at me with wonder, not sure what I was going to do next.  Then I explained that our church had a breakthrough prayer that we were praying everyday at 5:17 am and 5:17 pm.  Although it was not intentional, it was certainly a great opportunity to tell her about New Creation UMC.  She even asked me why I go to church there, which made me think, "Why do I go to church at New Creation"?   As I turned to leave the store, the Holy Spirit "nudged" me to turn around and go back and invite her to church, which I did.

We worship a living God who is constantly reaching out and nudging us! This week we are exploring transformation, how God transforms us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We explored why we need a savior, how our sin has separated us from God and how Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. We know that even once we acknowledge and accept God, we are not immediately perfect people. We are still 'works in progress' as God continues to make us new every day. We praise God that when we are in Christ, we are a New Creation! Join us as we explore how God transforms us.

Blessings,
Pastor Stephanie

The Cross

At the heart and center of the Christian religion stands one symbol - a cross. Other systems revolve around other symbols; the crescent, the lotus flower, the sun’s disc, a bronze statue - but Christianity revolves around a cross. It is our symbol that identifies both who we are and why we are who we are. We see them on our altars. We use them in our decorations. We even wear them around our necks. Crosses come in almost every form, size, and color.
 
On Sunday as we continue our series entitled Gospel, we will survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died. Why has this symbol, the first century equivalent to the gas chamber and electric chair been so jealously guarded and retained, given such a hallowed place of honor in our churches?
           
We will ask:
 
What is the importance of the cross? 
Why does it speak so powerfully to us? 
How does a thing of such brutality serve as the thing that brings comfort and reconciliation?
What ultimate truths of life and the power of God does the cross reveal to us?
 
I hope you will join us as we explore these important questions.
 
See you on Sunday!
 
Randy

Sin

In our 5:17 Breakthrough Prayer we have been asking for God to, “Breakthrough in our lives and in our church.” God has been answering that prayer! This week we want to begin sharing with you some of the Breakthrough Testimonies we have received from members of our congregation. The first one below comes from Terry Rivenbark:

When visiting my mom who lives in a nearby “super senior” residence, I always read passages from the Upper Room before leaving. Recently, I have also started reading her one of 120 daily readings from Billy Graham’s book “Breakfast with Billy Graham.”  Pastor Randy and Pastor Stephanie’s first 2019 sermon on January 6 (which was My relationship with God) introduced us to 5:17 where the focus is on how we can become a new person, or new creation in Christ.

 Back to my mom…

On my first visit with my mom after their sermon, I randomly opened Billy Graham’s book and started reading “Christ Made Me Want to Change.”  After a few moments I realized this is 5:17! He even quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17 later in the reading!  Rev. Graham wrote that after he accepted Christ he became interested in helping people, which he had never done before. He also started looking at people in a different way. In closing he stated that Christ will change the way you think and thus you will become a new creation. Just think if 5:17 was instrumental in changing Billy Graham’s life and helped him to bring so many to Christ, then the possibilities must be endless for us at New Creation! 

As a believer this has to be God speaking to me and not just a coincidence. I was flabbergasted!  God just challenged me to change and to be a better person! I have accepted the challenge and started working on becoming a better me. Now I must say that the jury is still out on my improvements.  However, I know that because of Christ, I am a new creation!

If you have seen breakthroughs in your life, we would love to hear from you! Please email Pastor Randy or Pastor Stephanie with your story.

 

Grace

A message from the Pastor


This week we enter the season of Lent. This is a season to deepen our devotion to God and to add a new discipline to our routine. Last week we challenged you to take our Breakthrough Prayer to a deeper level by giving you 5:17 Prayer Timers and asking you to spend 5 minutes and 17 seconds each day in prayer. We hope you are using those to intensify your prayer for breakthrough in your life and in our church.

Each week in Lent we want to share a “Timer Tip” from one of our members to encourage you in this Lenten Discipline. This week’s Timer Tip comes from one of our Lay Leaders, Michael Strickland:
 
Friends - After several weeks of praying the Breakthrough Prayer at least twice a day, and as we now move into a new phase of using the 5:17 minute prayer timer, I want to develop a more complete understanding of what this prayer can mean to me and the life of our church.  So, as I consider how to incorporate the 5:17 timer into this prayer innovation, I am moved to do the following.   
 
The Breakthrough Prayer comprises 5 sentences that begin:
 
1.  Almighty God, today breakthrough...
2.  Make us...
3.  Transform us...
4.  Show us...
5.  Give us....
 
I want to spend at least 1 minute each day more deeply meditating on each of those sentences and listening for God's voice and God's wisdom as to what each sentence means to me and New Creation today.  I believe this will result in a more personal attachment to these wonderful words and a path forward to service, whatever form that may take.  Only God knows what breakthroughs await!
 
May you have a great week as you decide how to use this with your timer for prayer!

Randy

Good News

A message from the Pastor

The birth of a new baby. A wedding or engagement. When something exciting happens in our life, we want to share the good news with others. We may put an announcement in the newspaper, call or text a friend, or update our social media status. Modern-day technology makes it easier than ever to share our announcements with people all over the world. When we have good news, it is hard to keep it to ourselves.
 
Whether face-to-face or through social media, we are not ashamed to share the latest happenings in our lives. Shouldn’t we be even more excited to share the message of God’s great love and grace with the world? Events such as births, engagements, and weddings are certainly exciting, but what better news could there be to share than the good news of Jesus and His salvation?
  
Paul declared that he was unashamed to proclaim the gospel. He understood the power of the gospel message in bringing God’s eternal salvation to all who put their faith in Christ. With the Spirit’s empowerment, the bold apostle would let nothing deter him from proclaiming the powerful message that people so desperately need. Centuries later, the same gospel message still has the power to transform lives. Let’s not be ashamed to testify to the good work God is doing in our lives and our world today.
 
Join us on Sunday as we begin a brand-new series that will take us through the season of Lent where each week, we will explore the core elements of the good news of the gospel from our Wesleyan Methodist perspective and how to live it and give it away to others.
 
Randy

Joining The Lord

A message from the Pastor

As followers of Christ we are constantly surrounded and even bombarded with the needs of others. There are physical and spiritual needs crying all around us. The physical needs are not only in far-off places where political unrest, civil war, earthquakes, floods, famines and other natural disasters take many lives and leave thousands homeless.

But we also have a responsibility to meet the needs "at home." There are many physical and spiritual needs right in our community, in our schools, in our work place, our neighborhood and our church. In fact, when we take off the blinders, we find that there are so many needs around us that we don't know where to begin! The problems seem so gigantic and complicated and hopeless and frightening that we get discouraged and end up doing little or nothing.

What can we do? What should we do? The answers to those two important questions are given to us in one of Jesus’ most famous miracles; the miracle of the feeding of the 4000 thousand. This miracle is a separate event from the feeding of the 5000.

Once again, Jesus sees the large group of people who had gathered, and his heart was filled with compassion. The disciples are perplexed as to what to do in this situation. Imagine the disciples' thinking and reasoning at this point! "Hey, wait a minute, Lord. This isn't our responsibility! These people came over here on their own, without any food or forethought. Why should we get involved in bailing them out? Look at the magnitude of the need! We just don't have the resources! Jesus asks, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” And once again, Jesus took what the disciples had to offer and multiplied it to meet the needs of all the people in abundance.

The lesson for us is clear. "Give what you have." We are not expected to give what we don't have, but we are expected to give what we do have! As we strive to love the 757, that is what we must do. Our responsibility is to give what we have to Him--no more but no less! The little we have can meet the greatest need when it is given to Christ and then multiplied by Him.

See you Sunday,

Randy

Engaging With My Neighbor

On the 15th of May, in the Jungle of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool,        He was splashing… enjoying the jungle’s great joys… When Horton the elephant heard a            small noise.”
 
These are the classic opening lines of the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who, which is a tremendous story about an elephant named Horton who one day discovers and hears this small community of creatures living on a speck of dust called “Whos”.  And Horton is convinced of their existence and he hears them.  And the story tells of him persevering and promising and vowing to care for and protect these small creatures called Whos amidst persecution and harassment from Sour Kangaroos and a gang of monkeys and a vulture named Vlad. 
 
And he does.  He protects them.  One of the driving motivations, one of the driving sayings, one of the driving truths that motivates and pushes Horton is this: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

You know this phrase seems to be a truth that comes out of the very heart of Jesus, doesn’t it?  Perhaps our Savior might say, “A person is worthy of love…no matter how small.”  Or maybe, “A person is worthy of love…no matter how large; no matter how poor.  No matter how smelly.  No matter how ugly or mean.  No matter what color their skin or what language they speak.”

This week we continue our series Loving the 757. We will look at how we can follow the example of Jesus and engage with people around us in a way that enables them to know that we care. We will also look at the early church and the approach that they took to reach out to persons great and small.

Randy

Praying for my Neighbor

Coca-Cola is one product that has far outgrown its humble beginnings. In 1886, Dr. John Pemberton first introduced Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. The pharmacist concocted a caramel-colored syrup in a three-legged brass kettle in his backyard. He first "distributed" Coca-Cola by carrying it in a jug down the street to Jacobs’s Pharmacy.

 

After little more than 130 years later, surveys show that 97% of the world has heard of Coca-Cola. 72% of the world has seen a can of Coca-Cola. 51% of the world has tasted a can of Coca-Cola. All due to the fact that the company made a commitment years ago that everyone on the planet would have a taste of their soft drink.

 

We should stand up and take note here! 97% of the world has heard of this sugar and water concoction while 2 billion people worldwide have no access to the good news of Jesus Christ! It is estimated that 17 million people die every year without having heard the name of Jesus! 

 

This Sunday we will continue our series Loving the 757. There are many persons right here in our community who do not know the good news of Jesus. There are many people who are hurting, seeking, and searching for something or someone to fill the void in their lives. We believe that Jesus is the answer and that, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation!”

 

How do we spread the word about who Jesus is and what he does in our lives? How do we live so that our lives are a living testimony to the Good News of the Gospel?  What are we doing as a church to spread the word so that the people in our community can “taste and see that the Lord is good?” (Psalm 34:8)

 

Randy