Pastor’s Pen
 

On Pride and Prejudice

         In Mark 12:38 – 40 we are warned to avoid a desire for deference and our penchant toward prejudice.  Is pride and prejudice always bad?  Not always. When we take pride in our children’s accomplishments, our soldiers military service, and employees hard work to help business success, that is a good sense of pride.  Even prejudice can be good if we are prejudice against evil and those who do evil. 

 

         The warning is to not let pride and prejudice cause discrimination against others for personal gain.  Live a God-centered life that puts the needs of others in front of your own.  Today, be prejudice against evil, and consider the good achievements of others.  Be proud of them and tell them how proud you are of their work.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there is a time for everything.  Perhaps today is a time to heal and to build up.

Blessings,

Pastor Dennis



What is your Joy?

     Gray United Methodist Church is quite blessed to have three very distinct worship opportunities with three different preaching pastors.  The truth is, if you don’t like one service, or the preaching there just does not connect with you, you have two other services to check out.   We have something for everyone at the Gray United Methodist Church.
 
         If I could change anything about all three of our services, it would be to hear more joys.  We do great on bringing our concerns to God, but outside of birthdays and anniversaries, we don’t share many joys in worship.  Why is that?  When a visitor comes to our church, and they don’t hear many joys, what does that say about how we see God in life?
 
       The point of worship is to praise God and bring glory to his name, but God wants to hear our joys as well.  You and I have been blessed ~ and every week God does something good in our lives. Imagine how much God would love to hear us give him some praise by sharing our joys and saying, “Thank you God.” What do you have to give thanks?
 
 
Blessings,
 
Pastor Dennis


The Church and Mid-Term Elections

        As we approach mid-term elections there will be a lot of people out campaigning for the candidates of their choice.  I love the fact that we live in a country where we have choice, the choice to elect those we want to represent in local, state and national government.

 

It is one thing for an individual to take a stand on a given political issue, but for the church to side with a political party, crosses a line we cannot cross as the body of Christ. Charles Colson in his book, Kingdoms in Conflict, writes “Evangelism, administering the sacraments, providing discipleship, fellowship, teaching the Word, and exhorting its members to holy living are the heartbeat of the church. When it addresses political issues, the church must not do so at the risk of weakening its primary mission. As mainline churches discovered in the sixties, the faster they churned out partisan statements, the faster they emptied their pews.”

 
 
        Colson wrote those words over 30 years ago, but this truth is still relevant today. I say vote for the person you believe is best for the job, but don’t expect your pastor to endorse any candidate, lest I compromise my own witness and the church.  My focus is on a different calling, the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Blessings,

Pastor Dennis   



Signs and Promises

          The stories in the Bible are filled with signs and promises from God.  One of the earliest of these signs, and most remembered, is the rainbow God put in the sky.  In Genesis 9:13 and 15 it says, “I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant made between me and the earth. … And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and never again shall the water become a flood that shall destroy all the flesh.”  In this sign we have a promise from God, and it is a promise to us on the side of life.
 
            As Christians few promises are more important than the promises made at our baptism and when receiving Holy Communion, but these promises are not initiated by us, but by God himself.  Thomas C. Oden once said, “Water, bread, and wine express promises, not that we make to God, but that God makes to us, to which we may respond in obedient faith.”  This week, think of the promises God has made to you in Holy Baptism and in Holy Communion.   How you live out your life is your response to it all.  Let your responses be in obedient faith.
 
Blessings,
Pastor Dennis


Justice not Power

Can Christians advocate for political change without losing the separation of powers (government and religion) that are implicit in our U.S. Constitution? This is a question Charles Colson addressed in his book, Loving God, in writing, “The key to answering this question is to understand that the Christian’s goal is not power, but justice. We are to seek to make the institutions of power just, without being corrupted by the process necessary to do this.” When one considers Colson’s background in politics during the era of the Nixon administration, and his conversion to Christianity in the early 1970’s, his comments on this topic are worthy of our attention.
 
 
The New Living Translation of the Bible on Matthew 16:25 quotes Jesus saying, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” If we follow Colson’s thought, those who give up power finally discover that before there was power, there was God’s justice. Our goal as Christians is a more just world, not powerful world.
 
Pastor Dennis


Differing on opinions, yet united in Christ.

It was Sunday afternoon when the doorbell rang.  My terrier-mutt rocky road mix let me know this was not a familiar visitor with her litany of canine cadence. And I figured that if this mysterious visitor survived the assault of yaps, growls, barks and nips, the least I could do was answer the door.  Before me stood a 20 something young man, casually dressed with a gleam of insecurity in his eye.  I welcomed what turned out to be my own political pollster. 

This poor kid had been hired to go door to door, recording the political opinions of Johnson City.  I could tell by the look on his face he had experienced little success.  So, I asked him questions.  His answers revealed that Bill Lee had won the Republican nomination because the other two candidates cancelled each other out.  They had invested highly in negative ads about the other and Bill Lee (polling in third) had come out the winner.

Perhaps the time has come in the political life of America that the public no longer feeds on negativity and division.  I hope this is true.  As an assembly of Christians how can we lead the way?

“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:2

Our Thursday night summer symposium has been a wonderful witness within our community as well as visitors.   The topics have soaked us in the controversies of the day as well as the deep needs of our community.  We have not agreed lock step with one another about solutions.  Yet it has been a witness of the tolerance preached by Christ when we listen and strive to understand the other.  It is a greater gift of tolerance we give when we decided to stay in relationshipwith someone who will never change their way of thinking to match our minds.

Perhaps this is why the Thursday night entitled “Religion in Politics” was so well attended, talked about and ruminated over by our congregation.  This occurrence made the decision for the last Thursday night symposium simple:  Religion and Politics II.  On August 16th we will welcome Dr. Rev. David St. Claire. He is a retired pastor, lecturer and professor.  All I can say is that David is brilliant, thoughtful and relevant.  He was my mentor through the clergy ordination process and he baptized our daughter.

David will present a lecture and take questions afterwards.  I hope you join us in the chapel at 7pm.  I hope you come to hear David and I hope you are challenged.  I hope you ask questions and interact. I hope you come to become a witness to our community as liberals, conservatives, independents, libertarians, socialist, and so on differing on opinions, yet united in Christ.
 
To find out more about this event, and to register click here.
 
Pastor Amy

Rev. Amy Holmes