Sunday, February 23, 2014

English Ministry News and Notes 2-23-14

*Youth Lead Sunday - Our youth will be leading all of worship next Sunday, Mar. 2nd, including the sermon! You are encouraged to pray for them this week and cheer them on next week!

*Adventures in Faith Monthly Chapel - Our monthly chapel for the 60+ students of the Homework Club will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 26th. We will gather for a run through at 2:00 p.m. If you are interested in participating, please connect with Becky, Donna, or Pastor Emily.

*Let's Begin the Season of Lent Together - You are warmly invited to celebrate the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Mar. 5th, at 7:00 p.m. This is a special worship that enables us to enter the season with intention. Small Group Ministries will not meet that week but attend Ash Wednesday together.

*Observe Lent with S.O.U.P. - We celebrate our 5th year of Sundays of Uniting Prayer (SOUP) beginning the first Sunday of Lent, Mar. 9th. Immediately after worship, we will gather in the Annex for a bowl of delicious homemade soup and bread, a time of silence and meditation, as well as a period of small group reflections and prayer. All are invited! Great thanks to this year's crew of soup-makers and bread provider. There is just one Sunday left open to sign up for soup making.

7 Ways to Make Bad Decisions - Ron Edmondson

I’ve made lots of bad decisions in my life. That includes my time in leadership — both in business and ministry, but I’ve also made plenty of bad decisions in family and personal situations. None of us set out to make bad decisions, but sometimes the way we make them can significantly increase or decrease the chance the quality of our decisions.

Granted, I’ve learned from every bad decision I’ve made. And, I’ve even repeated a few of them a few times — and still learned something. But, as much as I can, I want to make better decisions — the first time.

In my experience, there are a few common factors that lead to me making a bad decision. Here are 7 ways to make bad decisions:

Make them too fast – I’ve learned that haste does indeed make waste. I make lots of decisions each day. I would be a poor leader if I couldn’t make most of them quickly. I’d always be stalled from my potential. When the potential outcome is significant, however, the more time I can give to it the less likely I am to make a mistake - certainly the ones that could have been avoided with more thought. Learning when to wait, seek God, the counsel of others and for better personal discernment is part of maturing, but can help us avoid some of the more costly bad decisions.

Make them too slow – Equally true, there are times when a fast decision is easy; even prudent. If I know the right answer - if it has a Biblical basis, for example, or my conscience is clearly convicted - but it is simply hard to implement, I’ve learned that waiting seldom makes the decision easier and often only complicates the process. I’m more likely to make a bad decision the longer I wait.

Make them to keep people happy – The right decision is seldom the popular decision. People pleasing as a decision motivator rarely accomplishes matters of worth. It often makes the worst decision of the options available.

Make them when angry – I don’t know about you, but I don’t think clearly when my emotions get in the way. If I’m angry - or emotional in any other way - I tend to overreact or under react. Emotionally based decisions, especially immediate decisions, are often ones I tend to regret later.

Make them alone – “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) A part of leadership involves standing alone at times, but rarely are we really alone. We should always walk in the counsel of God’s Spirit, and, in my experience, even when I have to make the decision seemingly alone - if I’m making wise decisions - it’s not really that I’m alone. I’m just ahead of where others know we need to go, but haven’t yet been willing to go. Building a collaborative environment as much as possible helps me avoid bad decisions.

Make them reactionary – Ultimately we want to work from a plan. We want to make decisions before the decision is needed. We want proactive decision-making. That’s obviously not always possible, but in my experience, I’m more likely to make a bad decision when I’m reacting to a situation, rather than having thought about the scenario and my response beforehand.

Make them out of fear – We are called to walk by faith, yet fear is often a more powerful initiator. But, I’ve learned, when I decide because I’m afraid to - or not to - do something, I almost always make a mistake. Following my faith gut, even when afraid, is part of leadership. And, part of life.

I’m sure there are many other ways to make a bad decision. These are some of my personal examples.

Which of these get in your way the most in making good decisions?
What are some ways you end up making bad decisions?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Called to Say Yes" by Edwina Gateley

We are called to say yes.
That the kingdom might break through
To renew and to transform
Our dark and groping world.

We stutter and we stammer
To the lone God who calls
And pleads a New Jerusalem
In the bloodied Sinai Straights.

We are called to say yes
That honeysuckle may twine
And twist its smelling leaves
Over the graves of nuclear arms.

We are called to say yes
That children might play
On the soil of Vietnam where the tanks
Belched blood and death.

We are called to say yes
That black may sing with white
And pledge peace and healing
For the hatred of the past.

We are called to say yes
So that nations might gather
And dance one great movement
For the joy of humankind.

We are called to say yes
So that rich and poor embrace
And become equal in their poverty
Through the silent tears that fall.

We are called to say yes
That the whisper of our God
Might be heard through our sirens
And the screams of our bombs.

We are called to say yes
To a God who still holds fast
To the vision of the Kingdom
For a trembling world of pain.

We are called to say yes
To this God who reaches out
And asks us to share His crazy dream of love.

...We who have received the gift of faith, calling us to personal conversion and trans-formation, are also impelled to share that love. We who have received the love of Christ through the spirit cannot contain it. It must reach out to others, spilling out and touching the world in which we live. We are first called and moved by the very love that lives within us…
– Edwina Gateley, VMM Spirit and Lifestyle

English Ministry News and Notes 2-15-14

*Great Thanks to the many hands and many hearts who pitched in at last night's, "Let the Love Continue" Fundraiser. We give thanks for your generosity and the opportunity to send 3 young folks to Uganda. If you didn't get a chance to browse the Reclaimed Treasure market last have one last opportunity to do so after worship!

*LMUMC Food Pantry Volunteers - You are warmly invited to gather upstairs in the multipurpose room (large room in the Annex) at 12:45 p.m. today for a time of updates, reflections, and discernment.

*Sharing Prayers - Can you believe it? Kumi Christian Visionary School's (KCVS) enrollment hit 100 this last week! Let us praise God together and continue to lift KCVS, the new staff and students, up in God's light.

*Looking Ahead: Please mark your calendars now to begin the new Lenten Season together on Ash Wednesday, Mar. 5th. We will hold this special service at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

English Ministry News and Notes 2-9-14

*Will You "Let the Love Continue"? - A fun and delicious evening is planned for Feb. 15th to raise funds in support of students going to Uganda (Michelle, Jeffrey, Jacinto). RSVP today with Michelle.and invite friends!

*Food Pantry Ministry Review and Evaluation Meeting: You are invited to come and learn more about the challenges, opportunities and possibilities of this vital ministry in our community . At this meeting we will review the food pantry ministry and discern about how God is directing us in relationship with this ministry. If you are a participant in this ministry or if you are interested in knowing more about it, please join us on Sunday, February 16 at 12:30PM in the Educational Annex.

*Lent is Just Around the Corner - Great, great thanks to all those who have signed up to be soup-makers during the 6 weeks of Lent. There are still 4 slots left that are open for sign-ups. You are invited to consider pitching in on one of the Sundays with a pot of soup that feeds about 20 people. This is one of the important elements of our Sundays of Uniting Prayer (SOUP). Thank you!

7 Ways to Make Bible-Reading Fun

A young college-aged girl told me recently that she didn’t enjoy reading her Bible and asked if there was an alternative book. Well…no! This is THE BOOK! There is no substitute. There are plenty of great Christian books, but none compare to this one. I’ve heard similar concerns many times. The Bible intimidates many people; even those who are avid readers of other books. I told this girl she could listen to the Bible on a CD or mp3, but I don’t think that’s the complete solution. I think we need to figure out how to enjoy reading God’s Word. Part of maturing as a Believer is to fall in love with the Bible.

Here are 7 suggestions that may help:
Pray - The Bible is not like any other book. You need God’s Spirit to help you. You should always pray before and as you read it. Ask God to help you understand what you’re reading. Good news here! This appears, in my experience, to be one of God’s favorite prayers to answer.

Version - Pick a version easiest for you to understand. There are lots of different versions of the Bible, some that are closer to the original Hebrew or Greek than others and some that are considered to be more paraphrases. Check out different versions through a site like: before settling down with one.

Sharing - It brings Scripture to life when we can share it with others. Sharing your reading with your small group, a group of guys or girls at a coffee shop, or a couple of people from work helps energize you for the passage. The key here is that when you talk about what you’re reading, it helps you value it more. (Read Philemon 6 for an example of this.)

Journaling - Writing about your time in God’s Word will help you process your thoughts and keep a record of them. It’s exciting to go back over time and remember what you read before. It fuels your enthusiasm for more.

Taking your time - I love the idea of reading the Bible through in a year. I’ve done this many times. I think it’s more important, however, that you benefit from what you’re reading. I sometimes meditate on a few verses or a story for a day. I also recommend people start with an easier book to understand and move to more difficult passages from there. The gospels are good places to start, because they are filled with great stories of Jesus.

Clarify - It’s best to have a study Bible for this part, but there are plenty of free online tools also. Look up words you don’t understand. Learn to use Bible dictionaries and commentaries. Look up passages that aren’t clear, cross-referencing verses with other similar verses using footnotes. For some people, having a Bible study to work through along with reading the Bible is helpful.

Relationship - The best way to fall in love with God’s Word is to get to better know its author. It’s cliché now, but read it as a love letter written to you. If someone writes you a love letter, you’ll read it continually until you figure out what it means, and maybe even memorize parts of it along the way. If you can’t figure out something, you’ll consult the author. Fall more in love with God and you’ll find reading the Bible much easier. You may even someday say it’s “fun”!

What would you add to this list?

-Ron Edmondson is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

English Ministry News and Notes 2-2-14

*Great thanks to all those who pitched in and spruced up our buildings on Saturday!

*Celebrating the Lunar New Year - Worship will be followed by a fellowship potluck today. You are warmly invited to join in. Please do listen for instructions to help with set up immediately following worship.

*LMUMC Food Pantry: You are invited to pitch in and serve our neighbors next Saturday, Feb. 8th. Please connect with Jane for more info. You are also invited to come and learn more about the challenges, opportunities and possibilities of this vital ministry in our community Food Pantry Ministry Review and Evaluation Meeting. At this meeting we will review the food pantry ministry and discern about how God is directing us in relationship with this ministry. If you are a participant in this ministry or if you are interested in knowing more about it, please join us on Sunday, February 16 at 12:30PM in the Educational Annex.

*Will You "Let the Love Continue"? - A fun and delicious evening is planned for Feb. 15th to raise funds in support of students going to Uganda (Michelle, Jeffrey, Jacinto). RSVP today with Michelle.and invite friends!

A Christian Celebration of Lunar New Year

Some years ago, during a Mandarin Fellowship gathering, the question was asked, “How
can we faithfully celebrate the lunar new year as Christians?” For the person asking the
question, there were many cultural practices surrounding the holiday that seemed in conflict
with Christian values and teachings. Do we, for example, as Christians greet one another
with the common words, “Gong hei fat choi” (may you prosper in wealth) or might there be
more faith-filled greetings to be used? The discussion that ensued was rich and engaging.
Below are some suggestions for how to think about this important cultural holiday as an important
part of our heritage and faith

A Christian Celebration of Lunar New Year

[From The Methodist Church in Singapore -]

Lunar New Year is the most important point on the Chinese calendar. The beginning of the lunar year has symbolized the act of starting over with renewed hopes for happiness and prosperity. It is also a time to renew ties with family and friends, through family reunion dinners and social visits.

Chinese and many other Asian Christians continue to celebrate the New Year so as to maintain their ethnic identity. But while the celebration was traditionally marked by a religious ceremony in honor of Heaven and Earth, the household gods and ancestors, Chinese Christians will celebrate the event from the perspective
of their faith in Christ.

Christian interpretations have been given to many of the traditional symbols associated with Chinese New Year.

House Cleaning: It is a good time for Christians to evaluate their lives in light of their commitment to Christ.

Spring Couplet: The traditional practice of displaying couplets or pairs of auspicious characters at the doorways is reintroduced among Christians by putting up Christian messages.

New Clothes: This can be an opportunity for giving thanks for God’s abundant provisions (Romans 5:17).

Feasting: While over-indulging these few days remember that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so do not abuse it. Also remember the Christian virtue of hospitality, especially for those who have less or are struggling (James 1:27)

Oranges: Oranges are exchanged as a blessing for prosperity, because the Cantonese word for orange” sounds like gold. Christians are reminded that gold also symbolizes a genuine faith (1 Peter 1:7).

Red Envelopes: As gifts are given both to those below and above us in status, it is good to remember those who have served us faithfully, and also the Lord, to whom ultimate respect is due (Exodus 20:3).

Ancestors: While Chinese Christians will worship the one true God rather than their ancestors, that hardly means that they dishonor or neglect their family ancestors or even the ancestors of the faith. Scripture clearly calls us to respect those who came before us, and to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12).

Lunar New Year Prayer
Almighty God, we thank you for the Lunar New Year celebrations. The annual family gatherings help us cement our family ties. We thank you for our family ancestors and spiritual ancestors. Creator, give us the boldness to witness to our family and friends as we meet them during this festive season. O God, help
us to obey you in thoughts and in deeds, that we may please you in all our ways.
In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen. (prayer from CAC NEWS, January 2006, used by permission)