Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Jan. 31, 2010

"O God of all creation, we come here today because we yearn for a connection with you.  We want to feel your presence in our lives, to hear your voice with new ears, and to know how we can serve you better.  We want to be completely changed by our relationship with you.  Mold us into living symbols of your love.  Help our hearts to contain an abundance of joy and forgiveness for others.  Teach us how to pray and how to live - make them one and the same.  We pray these things in the name of Jesus, the one whom you choose to connect us to you.  Amen."

Today was the last day of focusing on "Worship"!  It started out kind of quiet... but became another lively Sunday morning.

The Education Hour:
*  The Children's Sunday School focused on Jesus as God's Son.  They're job this week, it to tell someone that Jesus is God's special son.
*  The Confirmation Class focused on the Great Commandments and the fact that how we live, what we value, determines how faithful we are to God.
*  The Wired Word group discussed a family that sold their home, and gave half of the money ($800,000) to a hunger-relief charity!  Their lives improved so much by giving, down-sizing, and spending time together as a family...  They're challenge to others is what do you have to give?
*  And Bettie's Caring Ministries has been talking about listening skills, how to support others who are suffering, and how to be an active listener. They've learned about different approaches to helping and why some are not as helpful as we might think, and others are wonderfully supportive and helpful. Sounds like a great class!

In worship, we focused on worshipping here and now - there's no right or wrong time - just do it!  We even had the opportunity to sign a covenant between ourselves and God, committing to worship whole-heartedly and often.  Jill gave another great children's chat - reminding the kids that we are like "ships" - unique and different, and that we should look at worship in a new way:  We Offer R SHIPS (selves).  WORSHIP is offering our whole self to God.  (The kids even got ships to take home as a reminder!)

Next week, we'll begin focusing on PRAYER.  I hope you'll join us!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Keeping Commitments

"At my church, we take the idea of presence very seriously.  In fact, we ask people to write down the number of Sundays they'll attend worship services in the coming year.  Now, we don't take roll to see who's there or not, but we don't need to.  We've found that when people commit to be here, they follow through with what they said they'd do, no matter what.  They know that when they're not at the service, there's no telling what they'll miss, what they would have been able to teach somebody, what they would have learned, how somebody might have encouraged them, or how they might have helped someone else.  I'll give you an example.

"A dozen or so years ago, a huge ice storm came through our city.  It arrived on Friday, and it was looking pretty bad.  Most churches in town announced that they wouldn't have services that weekend, because we were all supposed to be iced in for the next several days.  At my church, however, we decided not to make that announcement.  We decided we'd have church, and if people wanted to come, they'd come.  We figured we'd rather take a chance just in case the weather wasn't too severe.

"I arrived at church around six thirty that Sunday morning.  Ice was everywhere, but I wasn't there alone.  One of the first people I saw was an elderly member.  I said, "Miss Lucille, I didn't expect to see you here today."

"Do you know what she replied?  "Why?"

"I responded, "Well, it's so icy, and you have to have somebody to drive you, so I thought you'd decide not to come today."

"Boy, did she teach this preacher a lesson.  She said, "John Ed, I didn't decide this morning to come today.  If I had waited until this morning to decide, I wouldn't have come.  It's too cold.  But, you see, I decided last November when I turned in my commitment card that I'd be here forty-eight Sundays.  I know what four I'm going to be out of town, and this isn't one of them.  I decided last November that I'd be here this Sunday in February."

"She already knew what so many people eventually find out:  If you wait until Sunday morning to decide whether or not you'll go to church, you'll most likely never get there.  It'll probably be pretty easy to find an excuse not to go.  If you make a commitment that you're part of the family and you're not going to miss an opportunity to take part in whatever happens, however, you'll end up with a much better track record.  You - and your church - will be all the better for it."
--John Ed Mathison, from "Treasures of the Transformed Life"

If somebody asked me how many Sundays I'd be at church in the next year, what would I say?
What am I likely to miss when I'm not at church?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Sometimes, we worship through action.  We put into action our thankfulness, our adoration, our prayers, and our praise of a God who calls us to help our neighbors.  And we DO something.

Last night, 18 people from St. Paul's UMC joined with 72 other people from around the metro area to serve at Feed My Starving Children.  We worked in teams to bag meals that will be sent to Haiti to feed hungry children whose lives have been devastated through poverty - and now the earthquake.  9 million meals have already made their way to Haiti in the last couple of weeks - another 5 million hoped to be shipped out within the next week or so.

Our group of 90 people last night?  We bagged over 15,000 meals in an hour and a half!  That will feed 44 kids for a year!

God blesses us each with gifts and abilities - and time.  It is worship to use those things to glorify him.  Awesome.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


"The Discipline of Worship helps us to develop a life dedicated to giving God honor and glory in all that we say and do.  It reminds us that we are not the center of the universe - God is, and therefore he is worthy of our worship.  Oswald Chambers says that in worship we are to "give God the best that he has given us."  We are invited - even called - to give God center place in our family relationships, work, recreation, money, and bodies."
--Valerie Hess, "Habits of a Child's Heart"

Hmmm...  I'm not the center of the universe?  Bummer.

Is God center of my relationship?  Work?  Recreation?  Money?  Body?  How I choose to spend my time?
Every one of these priorities - and how I include God in them - is my CHOICE.  How will I work on choosing God this week?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I read a quote recently that said, "We are what we do."  Another quote that kind of said the same thing: "People become like their focus - we emulate what we think about."  And one more, "What we are devoted to will shape our lives."  (I jotted these down on scrap paper and forgot to write down who said them...  If I find that info, I'll let you know!)

It makes you think, doesn't it? 

What do people see me doing?  What about what I do defines me to other people?

What is my focus that other people zero in on?  What am I emulating in my daily life?

And what is it that is shaping my life - in every moment, with every breath?

In this month of focusing on Worship...  Do people see me as a person of worship?  Is my focus on God and am I emulating a Godly walk everyday?  In every moment, and with every breath - am I thanking and praising God for the life I have?  for the blessings, the lessons, the love, and the hope that surrounds me?

I know I have some thinking to do...  What about you?  When people see your actions, hear your words, sense your focus, and feel your devotion - does it lead them to God? 

Heavy stuff, huh?

Monday, January 25, 2010


1 Chronicles 16.29: Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him. Worship the LORD in holy splendor…

2 Chronicles 29.28: The whole assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded…

Nehemiah 9.6: And Ezra said: ‘You are the LORD, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.

Psalm 37.4: Delight yourself in the Lord!

Psalm 95.6: Come, let us bow down in worship.

Psalm 100.2: Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs.

Matthew 11.28: Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

John 4.23: The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Romans 12.5: Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

Colossians 3.16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Hebrews 10.25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.

Hebrews 12.28: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Jan. 24, 2010

We continue our journey through the Spiritual Habit of Worship in so many ways...

During the Education Hour:
*  The children talked about "where your treasure is, there is your heart also."  That by having Jesus and God in our lives, we are richer than having lots of money.  They were asked to write down five things that are special possessions to them... and then write "Jesus" on top - as a reminder to keep Jesus first.
*  The Confirmands and their parents watched the NOOMA video, "Sunday," with Pastor Penny and discussed that church is more than "going through the motions."  It's being open to God's heart and seeking God's heart.  Not just sitting in the pew...  But really being present to God's prompts in us.
*  Wired Word re-visited the story of the United Methodist leaders that were trapped in the earthquake rubble in Haiti.  Even in the midst of injuries, fear, and darkness...  they kept worshipping God.  They sang, they prayed, they knew God was with them.  An inspiring story, especially now that we know that two of them eventually died from their injuries...  What great faith in the face of great hardship.
*  Bettie continues her "Caring Ministries" class.  I haven't gotten to attend yet - if anyone has an update for me, please send it my way!  (Or add it in the comments section.)

Worship was alive and active this week!  The microphones were acting up, Ginny jumped out of her seat to tell us about her new hearing aids...  You just never know what's going to happen in the joy of the moment!  Mark did a great job with the children's sermon, reminding us of the promise of God's love (and marriage, and credit card bills, and the post office...).  The Bell Choir sounded wonderful!  And the Choral Readers did a nice job with the Psalm readings - different voices blending to accentuate the readings in new ways.

Pastor Penny reminded us that worship is something to be done in all times and places - whenever we see God, and say "thank you."  Worship is something we make time for, we are intentional about, and we do even when we may not feel like - that's what makes it a discipline...  And God is there.  Even in those moments.

We also had the distinct pleasure to welcome more new members into our midst!  Nancy, Yvonne, and Bob come with new talents, gifts, ideas, and blessings to share - so be sure to welcome them as soon as you can! 

We worship together, because we are in this walk of the Christian life together.  We gather, praise, pray, sing, hear God's word, respond to God's word, and celebrate this life as one.  I hope you'll join us next week!

Friday, January 22, 2010


“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.”
--Mahatma Ghandi

Where do you see God in everyday life?

I see God in...
fluffy snowflakes
a sigh
puppy kisses
helping hands
sore muscles

How about you?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


"All of us have goals, even if they are short-term ones like making it to the end of the workday so you can go home and watch TV.  Jesus invites us to make our goals the same as God's goals; becoming people who are finished, complete, healthy.  Corporate worship, which is part of keeping the Sabbath holy, is only part of the picture.  It also includes living 24-7 in a complete, healthy, finished way, a way that reflects how Jesus lived his life here on earth.

"This is why worship is considered a spiritual discipline.  We must worship in such a way that we let God transform us into people who are complete, healthy, and finished.  This transformation process will not be completed in this life, and yet this life is also not God's waiting room for heaven.  This life is meant to make us the people that God wants us to be now.  We need to hear what that means on a regular basis."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

What is one thing you can be doing this week to work towards being "complete, healthy, and finished"?  How can we continue striving for the quality of life that God wants for us? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


"You have come from afar
and waited long and are wearied;
Let us sit side by side
saring the same bread drawn from the same source
to quiet the same hunger that makes us weak.
Then standing together
let us share the same spirit, the same thoughts
that once again draw us together in friendship and unity and peace."
--Prieres d'Ozawamick

"Christianity is not, and never has been, a solitary faith.  When one asks, 'Does one need to go to church to be a Christian?' he is putting the question the wrong way around.  One might better say, 'If one is a Christian, will he not wish to unite with other Christians in public worship?'"
--Georgia Harkness

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Choosing Wisely

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Matthew 6:21

"In Christian worship we are called together each week with brothers and sisters in Christ to spend time focusing on who God is, remembering who we are and being empowered to go out into a broken world with a word of grace.  Worship is not to be an ivory-tower experience that has nothing to do with reality.  True worship is meant to remind us of God's reality, which contradicts the messages the world around us is giving.

"For many of us the collection of the offering during a corporate worship service is a time to relax, maybe to listen to the choir or a soloist.  In reality the collection of the offering is a symbol of our giving to God our entire being - all that we are and all that we have.  This isn't a time where we tip God for the good week we just had or where we help pay the minister's salary.  While we may offer only a percentage of what we have been given, it is meant to be the down payment on the wholesale turning of everything, including our very lives, over to God.

"We are then invited to go into the week with the attitude that God is Lord of everything, and that everything we do and every purchase we make is to be in line with his heart's desire.  We cannot have the attitude that now that church is over, we can get back to our own business.  If we truly worshipped, we will be seeking to be about God's business moment by moment, in all of our tasks."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"


Monday, January 18, 2010

Worship in Action

"Faith is a living and unshakeable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that one could die a throusand deaths for its sake.  This kind of confidence in God's grace, this sort of knowledge of it, makes us joyful, high-spirited, and eager in our relations with God and with all people.  That is what the Holy Spirit effects through faith.  Hence, the person of faith, without being driven willingly and gladly seeks to do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of hardships, for the sake of the love and glory of the God who has shown such grace.  It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire."
--Martin Luther

Faith is living out God's grace in the world.  It's allowing the Holy Spirit to be in us and work through us.  And when we do this...  it's worship in action.

What are you doing to serve God in worship this week?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Jan. 17, 2010

Wow.  A moving and beautiful day at St. Paul's UMC.  The theme today was meant to be "Listening to God's Word."  But in the midst of the heartbreak of Haiti's earthquake...  Pastor Penny switched it up a little.  We spent the day focusing on "Where is God in Tragedy?"

The Education Hour did their part:
*  The Children's classes talked about Jesus being the Messiah - and being sent to show us the way.
*  This Confirmands attended the special Wired Word discussion today.
*  Wired Word spent the morning talking about the Haiti crisis.  An interesting discussion of how we, as Christians, are called to respond to all in need.  Beda did a great job facilitating the conversation!
*  The Caring Ministries group, led by Bettie, continued discussing ways to serve those around us in our community - as well as those in the midst of tragedy.

Worship was deeply meaningful.  We began with the choir bringing us into worship with "Holy Ground."  We remembered our call to help all of God's children - for when we serve others, we serve Christ himself.  Pastor Penny's sermon addressed so many of the comments we hear in the media about "where is God in this?"  We were reminded that God does NOT cause this pain - but is present in the hands that help, the prayers that cry out, and the hope that is carried for the future.  We were reminded that God IS present in these horrible disasters - and also in the disasters of our personal lives...  God is love and God is here.

The service ended with an impromptu announcement that two of our United Methodist pastors, and UMCOR leaders, died in the earthquake...  Our tears were shed as we joined in singing "Amazing Grace."  Sometimes God is more present than we're ready for...  But God was definately in our worship today.

As you go through your week, please remember to keep Haiti and all the people trying to cope with such sadness, grief, and hopelessness in your prayers...  If you are able to donate money, please bring a check to church or go to the UMCOR website and send your gifts to directly to the need - every penny will be used to help!

Also, we will be serving at Feed My Starving Children on Wed. January 27th, 6-7:30pm.  All meals bagged will be sent to Haiti, and donations will be taken to keep the meals going!  If you'd like to come with us, please let me know!

Friday, January 15, 2010


"If there is one characteristic more than others that contemporary public worship needs
to recapture it is this awe before the surpassingly great and gracious God."
--Henry Sloane Coffin

Awe.  An emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.

Do you find "awe" when you think of God?  What is awe-inspiring about God, for you? 

Is it an emotion that we have forgotten how to experience?   Do we take too much effort to make God "soft, warm, and cuddly" - and forget about the wonders, the power, and the honor that make up God?

Take a moment this week - what evokes "awe" for you?  What about God evokes "awe" for you?

When we worship, and come into our holy space...  what would help remind us of the awe of God?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roots and Wings

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
--Revelations 4:11

"It... behooves me to look at how the Holy Spirit has worked throughout the centuries in the church.  The hymns, liturgies and prayers that have come down to us since New Testament times and even earlier enrich me with words and music used by Christians in many times and places.

"It is important for us who are raising children in the Christian faith that we give them roots and wings.  They need to hear the ancient words of the creeds regularly, and they need to hear intercessory prayers for immediate concerns in our individual faith communities.  They need to sing liturgical words like those from the verse above to old and new tunes, and they need to sing songs that are newly written.  Kids need to know the rhythms of the church year festivals and the unique traditions their own faith communities and families have created.

"We as adults should try to wrap children in a rich array of ways to be in relationship with God so they will always have something to hang on to when the way gets tough."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

That's been the reason I got into Youth Ministry to begin with - we all have rough times.  Days of darkness, drudge, and drear...  And we all need to know that God is with us in those moments.  That there is a community of believers that are on the journey with us.  That we are never alone.

It's important to convey this message to the next generations in whatever ways we can.  Whether you have kids or not, you can help these young people to know the love and nurture of a faith community - share your walk with them, acknowledge them and let them know that they are seen and heard and valued.

They belong in worship - they belong in God's house.  How can you help them to know that this week?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


"You have loved us first, O God, alas!  We speak of it in terms of history as if You have only loved us first but a single time, rather than without ceasing.  You have loved us first many times and every day and our whole life through.  When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul toward You - You are the first - You have loved us first; if I rise at dawn and at the same second turn my soul toward You in prayer, You are there ahead of me, You have loved me first.  When I withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn my soul toward You, You are the first and thus forever.  And yet we always speak ungratefully as if You have loved us only once."
--Soren Kierkegaard

God is always there.  Always loving us.  How often do we turn to God?  And worship and love God?
Just a thought to ponder...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What to Wear...

"Many people dress more and more casually for Sunday morning worship.  They come in jeans and shorts because they like the more relaxed atmosphere this creates.  But on the other hand, I once heard someone say that by wearing a suit on Sunday morning, he was witnessing to his neighbors that he was going to church.

"I've thought about that comment over the years.  When I get dressed up for church in the casual town I live in, I am aware of the silent witness I am making about where I am going and how I feel about it.

"...Clothes can [also] affect our feelings about an event.  Maybe we are more open to God when we come casually to worship, like going to a friend's house.  Or maybe we take God's Word in our lives more seriously if we dress up, as for an important business meeting.

"The question really boils down to this: when we get dressed up to go to church, how are we preparing ourselves to go?  If God gave us the Sabbath as a sign of holiness, how are we responding to it?  It is a question we should not take lightly, but it is also a question each person should answer for themselves."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

Interesting topic as we talk about worship - does it matter what we wear on Sunday?  I've always thought people should come as they are - whatever they are comfortable in.  We don't all have beautiful dresses and expensive suits.  Piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair can't always be hidden.  But God accepts us as his children anyway.

I wish I could wear jeans to church on Sundays - most of the time.  But I will say, I feel more "worshipful" and attentive when I am more dressed up.  I feel that worship is a special occasion and a holy experience when I come ready to celebrate.  And I do notice that people see you and treat you differently at the grocery stores or restaurants in those after-church hours.  People do notice.  I've never thought about that before...

So your challenge this week?  Take notice of what you wear to church.  Do you always wear jeans?  Try dressing up this week - see how it affects your worship experience.  Do you always dress to the nines?  What would happen if you toned it down a bit?  Would you be less able to focus on God?  Just curious.  I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Something More

"Have you ever been up late watching TV and felt drawn to the refrigerator?  You open the door and stare absently inside while the cold rushes out at your feet?  You don't know what will be satisfying, but finally pick out something to eat.  In a few minutes you are back in the kitchen to get something to drink, thinking that was what you wanted all along.  At last you are full - too full - and realize you weren't really hungry or thirsty after all.

"The first stage in the journey of spiritual growth is something like that.  But instead of the hunger being physical, it is a hunger of the heart.  Many people ignore this crucial moment of awakening because they do not understand what is happening to them.  It is a stage that can be both distressing and depressing because no matter what we do, our life just isn't what we once thought it was meant to be.  Confusion.  Unrest.  Dissatisfaction.  These are but three of the most common feelings at this time...

"Often the hunger of the heart is experienced as the desire to get something more out of life.  While there's nothing wrong with that, the hunger of the heart is really a reminder to bring something more into life.  That something more is an ongoing relationship with God and an ever-deepening faith."
--Ron DelBene

And a good place to start?  To begin to make an intentional choice toward God?  Worship.  Surrounding ourselves with people on the journey - each on their own journeys and willing to share - helps us to gather the courage and tools to take our next steps, too.

May your hungry heart be fed this week!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Jan. 10, 2010

A cold day outside - but a warm and cozy day together in the body of Christ!

Education Hour started with some great discussions:
* The Children learned about making Jesus a priority in our lives! They were encouraged to take some time this week to read a few of their favorite scriptures and put Jesus first!
* The Confirmands discussed the beginnings of Jesus ministry. We thought about all the places we have been in the world - and the few places that Jesus had been, before he started his ministry... If we have such a bigger view of the world than Jesus did, at the time, what great things could we do to further his ministry today?
* Wired Word was led by Ryan this week and the discussion centered around the fact that no matter how good and faithful we are, we all are tempted at times to do wrong... We can continue in our faithful ways when we are surrounded by a community of faith and attend worship regularly.
* Bettie began her group discussing Caring Ministries and all the things we can do to care for each other and those in our community.

Worship was an introduction into the "where" and "how" we worship. We took a tour of the sanctuary and talked about the "gathering" pieces of worship. We gather as a community to share God's love in this holy space, we gather to hear one another's hurts and joys, to pray for one another and praise God through song and music. We also remembered that when we take moments to pray for our sins, they are moments of freedom to confess - knowing that our faith in God gives us the confidence that we are forgiven and loved, despite our mistakes.

Nancy did a great job as liturgist - even helping with our unusual scripture reading! The choir sounded great. Cathy led a wonderful children's sermon about the places we worship. And we sang many of your favorite hymns!

A great day - with God peeking around every corner!

Friday, January 8, 2010


"When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart."
--Lamar Boschman

How often do we come to worship, thinking of all the other places we could be, things we should be doing, errands to be running, meals to be cooking, meetings coming up this week...? How many times do we come to worship, too distracted to really focus on God?

Your challenge this week? Before you come to church, write down all the random "to-do" thoughts running through your head. Then, get to church 10 minutes early. Go sit in the sanctuary. Listen to the prelude. Quiet your mind. Spend some time in prayer and asking God to be at work in your heart and mind... and see what happens.

...Maybe, just maybe... you'll hear the words of the prayers, hymns, and scriptures in a whole new way... Maybe, God will feel closer... Maybe you'll find your heart opened and softened in a way that only full attention and worship can do!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Church Universal

"Sing to him a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy."
--Psalm 33:3

"This is a true story: At the end of the Palm Sunday worship service, a digruntled parishioner came up to the organist and said, 'This is the eighth year in a row we have had to sing that unfamiliar hymn.'

"When I finished laughing at this story, I reflected on how unwilling we can be to learn a 'new song' to sing to the Lord. We can get so set in our ways as far as what is or is not 'church music,' if there should be formal liturgy or not, if there should be silence or singing during Communion, and if there is singing, does the choir or the congregation do it, etc. We can be so busy worshipping worship styles that we forget we are there to worship God.

"We need to remember that Jesus is alive today and at work among his people, just as he has been since the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2). Therefore the music we use in worship needs to reflect the church universal in all places and times. We need to include old and new hymns, traditional and modern liturgies, chant and ethnic music.

"In short, we need to open ourselves up to God at work everywhere and reflect that in our worship."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

What do you love most about worship? What piece of music, liturgy, act of worship, prayer, etc?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Worship in Daily Life

"The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."
--Brother Lawrence

Life gets busy, hectic, crazy and full of distractions... Are you able to see God in the chaos? Are you able to say "thank you" for small blessings, "help" in moments of challenge and despair? Do you see the beauty of sunsets, flowers, flowing streams, a child's giggle, a yummy morsel? All of these are moments of worship - worship of the God who made it all!

Take a small moment today... And take notice of how God surrounds you. It's such a blessing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Challenge

"Make a commitment to attend church every week. If Sunday morning sporting events and birthday parties have been regular obstacles to going to church, this will take some time to change, but it will ultimately reap rich rewards in your life and your family."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

Consider all the ways attending worship on a regular basis could benefit you and your family... A peaceful, calm hour in a hectic week. A moment of intimacy with God. A connection with a community that loves and cares for you and your family. A way to be connected to something bigger than you. Something spiritual. A coming "home."

Will you consider a weekly commitment to worship?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Prayer of Worship

"Grant, O Lord,
that what has been said with our lips we
may believe with our hearts,
and that what we believe in our hearts
we may practice in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
--John Hunter

May this be all our prayers this week... as we journey through this life with worship in our hearts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Jan. 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a beautiful service of communion and blessing today! Pastor Penny "set" the communion table in a beautiful way, explaining the pieces of the service and the celebration involved!

Then the congregation was invited to come forward and serve themselves communion, and come to Pastor Penny, Pastor Terry Steeden, or Megan for a blessing. We were able to pray with, bless, hug, and support so many people from the church - and a few visitors as well. Tears were shed, smiles were shared - it was wonder-filled and refreshing, a perfect way to start a new year in worship!

May the Lord bless you this year with:
A few friends who understand;
A work to do which has real value, without which the world would be the poorer;
A mind unafraid to travel, even though the trail be not blazed;
An understanding heart;
A sense of humor;
Time for quiet, silent meditation;
A feeling of the presence of God;
The patience to wait for the coming of these things,
with the wisdom to recognize them when they come.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Discipline of Worship

"Worship is meant to be the highlight of our week, but sometimes it can become a burden in an already full schedule. Too often worship is not the refreshment to our weary souls that it is designed to be. Jesus says, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' (Matthew 11:28). Do you associate that verse with coming to weekly worship? Do you find yourself refreshed and rested after worship? Unfortunately, many of us answer no to these questions too many times...

"The reason worship is considered one of the spiritual disciplines, or habits, is because many times we don't feel uplifted or joyful when we think of coming to church, so we need to have the discipline of going anyway. God promises that he will be there at that worship service and that he will meet us in the community of our brothers and sisters in Christ to help all of us rise to a new perspective on our lives and the things of this world. The question this discipline asks is, will we be there?"
--Valerie Hess

Friday, January 1, 2010


A month of WORSHIP? Isn’t every month a month of Worship?

Yes… But:

“Life happens, and we need worship to deal with it. Worship is meant to give us hope and a sense of perspective. Worship is meant to give us, as a community, the chance to praise and thank God as well as mourn for the hard things that happened in the past week. Worship is meant to lift our eyes to the God who made us and loves us unconditionally. Worship is meant to give us language for responding to that God, a language we use not only in worship, but in everyday life.”
—Valerie Hess, “Spiritual Disciplines Devotional”

As we’re journeying forward to a life of Passionate Spirituality, we’re making a new stop every month, taking the time to explore a new Spiritual Habit. We started with Generosity and Thankfulness—how thanking God for blessings in our life helps us to realize how much we have to GIVE and serve those around us, thus doing God’s work in our world. In December, we took time out of our busy schedules to recognize the habit of Simplicity. We took notice of how we use our time, money, and energy—not just to satisfy the consumerism of the holidays, but to notice God, Jesus, family, tradition, and all the ways we connect to our faith without the peer pressure of our society.

And so, this month we move into the habit of Worship. One more way to “join the dance and learn the basic rhythms and steps that help us respond to God.”

Welcome to the New Year - and New Beginnings!