God or the voice Peter identifies as God repeatedly asks Peter to break religious rules. To have the voice God urging members of the chosen people to transgress so-called divine law seems paradoxical. It turns their world upside down. At worst, it exposes a place or places where a particular belief is inconsistent. God -- not Peter -- is advocating radical change --- change which is antithetical to longstanding beliefs. If that had been the end of Peter’s vision, everything may have been alright. Nothing could be further from the truth as revealed in the rest of the story.
A budget is a tool that can strengthen your greatest wealth building tool – your income. John Maxwell says that a budget is “simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” With a sluggish and slow economic recovery, it is more important than ever to know where every single dollar goes. By planning how your money will be spent each month, you can begin to get out of debt and strength your financial position.
April is Organ Transplant Month – a time to consider how you can give the gift of life to someone when you no longer need your organs or eyes, or tissue because you are cared for in the very presence of God. In conversation with the many wonderful folks in the transplant process, I have been shocked to learn again the small number of folks who have discussed transplant donation with their family. The coordinator of our program say that many of the families that are waiting for transplants admit they have not talked and prayed through decisions that help them make this final act of love and generosity. It is so much easier to have this conversation and make the decision when you are not in the midst of shock and grief. Not just for my Mike, but for so many, I urge you to do so.
To avoid the pitfalls of sexual discrimination, harassment or abuse, the church tries to equip its leadership. If sexual misconduct is alleged or identified, our denomination has Disciplinary steps that can be taken to discern the truth and/or bring just resolution where victim and victimizer exist. Much of what we learn in our mandatory Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training Event is more than the mantra “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Simply put, we desire to do the right thing. We want to do God’s will.
Bishop Keaton urges United Methodists in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to remember those that lost loved ones and those who provided assistance as first responders in the aftermath of the Boston bombing April 15 by asking each congregation to lift up these individuals in prayer Sunday, April 21.
Today, we celebrate. Today, we come not to mourn what we lost but to remember what we have in them. The Jensen legacy is alive in these woods. Mother Nature lovingly caresses and surrounds its latest additions, namely kitchen renovations in Dixon Lodge and the Jensen Memorial Chapel. And those of us who write history and mark celebrations will have this day, this time and moment, recorded in the current and future archival records of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference. And if we forget, God always remembers. The psalmist is right. “Goodness and mercy has a way of following us all the days of our lives” into the “house of the Lord.”
Our denomination has built Africa University through prayer, presence, apportionments and special giving. More than 4,000 graduates have been sent into the world from Africa University. The current student body numbers 1,200 with 700 more involved in long-distance learning. Money and students are part of the lifeblood of educational institutions.
Best of all, I learned afresh that my best sermon in a while didn't just happen; it was "the work of God."
Resurrection and new life sometimes takes awhile to fully unfold itself in us and lead us to act in new, fresh and empowered ways. But when we get it; when it gets us we are stirred to action and given fresh speech.
I cannot even imagine the anguish felt by Nicodemus and Joseph that day as Jesus’ body was retrieved and prepared for burial but I do understand needing SOMETHING to do and the sense of relief that comes with being able to do one last thing for a loved one.
On a day some 2,000 years ago all mankind raised its rebellious fist against the Almighty. The day Jesus Christ was crucified is by far the most infamous day of all humanity.
Our Lord and the thief on the cross represent an odd couple. Saint and sinner, the perfect and the imperfect in communion; how could that be? That’s life. Stuff happens. Odd couples happen. Jesus’ reputation impresses a man whose life is the anti-thesis of his. The thief’s death on the cross is not the full story of Good Friday. “Today,” on Good Friday, Jesus told the dying thief he’d be with him in paradise.
In any good novel or show, there is always a motive and the motive is based upon sin -- greed, jealousy, hate, you know the list. And in every sin there is always the ingredient of fear. Fear of exposure, fear of losing, fear. The religious authorities in today’s reading are no different than the characters in mystery novels or television shows or us -- they are afraid. They are afraid when confronted with the possibility of loss.
A testimony can be the beginning of belief in Jesus for those who do not know him, but the only way one can truly believe in Jesus is to communicate with him themselves through the Word and through prayer.
Paul tells us in Philippians Chapter 2 that since we have received the love of Christ that we are to be like-minded and to share that love and concern for others, not for our own glorification, but because we truly value others. Those in Africa who are suffering the ravages of death due to Malaria truly need our help, and God willing we will stand united, and be generous in our contributions to help eradicate this disease.
It was a most unusual and unforgettable Palm Sunday at Africa University. No Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. No Tell Me the Stories of Jesus. In fact, no palms. Seems strange in a land with tropical trees, there would be no palms when American churches clamor to find them so children can carry them in during a worship service procession. Adults smile, mothers and father snap pictures of darling children and we all get the warm fuzzies. And from a historical standpoint, nothing was said nor celebrated that on this Sunday -- 115 years ago -- British imperialist Cecil Rhodes had granted the nearly 1,600 acres of land to Methodist Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell for a school to educate the children of white British workers who were building a railroad to transport then Rhodesia's natural resources to South Africa for transport to Great Britain.
And yet, it WAS Palm Sunday...Soli Deo Gloria -- To God Alone Be the Glory.
Dr. Roger W. Ireson used the keynote address at the 20th annivesary celebration at Africa University it as a time to reflect on God's movement in the formation of Africa University. "This didn't just happen. It was a work of God." And addressing the students, he added, "And it was established for you. Give yourself to the world and build a new Africa. and you will see the dream fulfilled." Ireson wove together several stories about the early years of the university with a refrain, "Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was chance. But maybe it was a movement of God."