Monday, January 20, 2014

Exciting Times for Community of Joy!

I believe that the Church is designed to be an outward reaching band of Jesus followers... but it more naturally turns inward and huddles. So, the task of leadership is to constantly be reminding it that it is outward focused. To that end, I am excited that the Leadership Team and the 5 Q Circle Leaders of Community of Joy have taken action to work at leading us outward in 2014. As announced yesterday at our Congregational Forum, in 2014 each time there is a 5th Sunday - March 30, June 29, August 31, and November 30, we will host a Be a Blessing Sunday where we will suspend our normal worship gatherings to go out into the community to Be a Blessing. We hope to have several projects each of these days that folks can participate in, including one that will be at the Ministry Center for those with physical limitations. We will conclude each of these Sundays with a fellowship carry-in meal!  One of our first places will be related to the Community Emergency Shelter at the Langler Building... where we will host the final two nights of the shelter there and then spend Sunday cleaning up the facility and getting the cots cleaned and disinfected and put in storage. Exciting times for us as we seek to be the church on mission... Receiving love. Giving love. and Repeating again and again!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

At Present

For the present time, I am taking a break from blogging.  I find that keeping up with social media and all the other tasks of my life currently leaves me little time to effectively blog.  I thought about taking the blog down, but then didn't want to loose the 7 years of history that are recorded here.

I may be back in the near future... only time will tell!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love: How WORD Transforms WORLD!

Love working together with others to refine thoughts!  Yesterday, I asked for help in refining my thoughts on the theme for Advent/Christmas 2013 at Community of Joy.  I have so many wonderful ideas shared with me that I finally settled on a combination of several of the ideas.  Looking forward to this new series and especially with tag teaming with Rob Rappold on the series.  Rob has been speaking in my absence at Community of Joy as a way of discerning a call to ministry he feels.  We have been meeting together regularly for discipling and discernment.

In one of those recent meetings, Rob thought it might be cool to have me prescribe the theme and passage for a sermon.  So, on Sunday and Monday when this thing unfolded as it did... Sunday a new idea given and a decision to scrap my thoughts altogether and Monday when I put out the plea for help in refining the series title.    Here is what the series looks like as it stands...

Love: How WORD Transforms WORLD!

Dec 1  Origin   - John 1: 1-18 and John 3: 1-21

Dec. 8  Model - John 15:1-17

Dec. 15  Stretch - Luke 6:27-36

Dec 22  Mark  - John 13 and 14

Dec 29 Lifestyle -  I John 4:7-21

It is so much fun to collaborate on things!

Monday, November 25, 2013

When the WORD Comes to the WORLD....

Yesterday, Priscilla Timken shared a Holy Spirit nudge with us at the 9 a.m. worship gathering.  She said that as she was riding her bike to worship, she was given two words... WORD and WORLD... with each pedal, the two words came into her mind... WORD and WORLD.   As she continued to pedal and to ponder the meaning of these two words, she said it dawned on her that the only difference in the two words is the letter "L".

The difference the WORD came into the WORLD to make is to LOVE us!  And to love others through us!

The gospel writer John says, "So, the WORD became human and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only son!"  John 1:14

Gonna scrap what I had planned for a Christmas theme and work with this one... something about it captures my imagination!

Need your help in settling in on a title for this series...  Here are some thoughts that are running in my head...

When the WORD Comes to the WORLD...

Opening the Doors to the World...  (playing off the image of the door in the song With Every Act of Love)

"L" Makes ALL the Difference in the World!

The Power of "L"

Comment here and give me your suggestion!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Community Engagement!

Was/is exciting to see the community in all its fullness coming together to bring the resources of God together with human need.  Today we gathered at the Safe Streets gathering here in Salisbury at St. Paul's AME Church.  The church in our community is coming together and partnering with the police force, the state's attorney's office, and other agencies in the community to accompany and engage so young men/ women in our community who are first time offenders as an alternative to jail time.  It is exciting to see our community leaders working at a redemptive model rather than a punitive model and it is even more exciting that they are welcoming the church into that process!

I am not sure how many churches/ ministries were represented there today, but there were many from all persuasions and racial backgrounds.  It truly was the body of Christ coming together as one!   I am excited to see where things go from here and to be part of this initiative!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Engagement....

Always thinking of ways to engage others deeper... I love the definition of engagement as bringing together the resources of God with human need.

Delighted to see folks at Community of Joy working at this type of engagement and leading others to step into the river!  Pat Marvel is working with homelessness in our community and is looking for men's socks, underwear, long johns, gloves, gently used winter coats, and camping sized propane tanks.   It is cold out now and our shelters don't open till January for the men.  And there are some men who prefer to stay out all year long.  So one way to engage is to share what we have with Pat who will share it with those in need.

Another way we are engaging is through serving God's Kitchen on Saturday - Lachelle Rappold and Karen Townsend are leading our efforts to prepare a delicious warm meal for the folks that come into Grace United Methodist Church's God's Kitchen on Saturday.  You can help by bringing home made baked desserts at 10 a.m. on Saturday or by helping to serve the meal, or clean up from the meal.

Another way we are engaging is through joining with 13 other churches in Salisbury January through March - our turn is for two weeks in February and we work with our neighboring churches - Bethany Lutheran and Beacon of Light... to host 20 homeless men in our facility for  the night and we also prepare them a hot meal, a hot breakfast, and send them out with a bag lunch in the morning.  Rob Rappold is leading our efforts of engagement here.

We are faith based partners with Pinehurst Elementary School and constantly look for ways to engage there.

Our 5 Q Circles are looking for ways to as a group engage various needs in our community too!

A new team has been formed and has already conducted one Bible Study at the Wicomico Juvenile Department of Corrections facility at the request of the youth involved.  This is a great way to engage with a need.

God has given us much... not only to benefit ourselves but to be shared as a way of engaging people in need with the resources of God...  How will you engage our community, world, and individuals we meet along the way?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Praying...

Prayer is powerful!  I pray daily for the folks who make up Community of Joy and for our effectiveness in mission for Jesus!  I also pray specifically for those who are in need of prayer for healing, guidance, wisdom discernment.   In addition, I make it a habit to pray for the leaders and the effective mission of christian churches that I drive by wherever I am.  They are not our competition!  They are on our team!  And all that we do is done to help people take their next step toward Jesus!  There is no more important thing to do than to pray for God's help in fulfilling that mission!

Here is the place where I prayed last night!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Something to look forward to...


This photo was taken by my friend, Bryan Bilger from McVeytown, PA this morning.  What beauty!

I am off this week and looking forward to seeing some new sights... some of God's beauty.  I am looking forward to having some renewing times... for myself and with Sharon!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Incredible Things Happening....

God is sure moving at Community of Joy!  And it is really neat to see it happen!  We've been praying for it to happen and it is!

Yesterday we hosted our 7th Neighborhood Pork Roast and Fun Fest and had fabulous weather, delicious and plenty food, and a good response.  Each year it has been interesting to see how the response is and each year it is different.  Last year we had a tremendous response from our partnership with Pinehurst Elementary.  This year it seems as if they didn't pass out our invites as we couldn't identify anyone from there.  But this year it seemed that personal invites from our folks was the draw.  And that is really exciting!

It is also really exciting to see so many people willingly jump in and help serve at this event.  It takes lots of us to make it a success and there was no shortage of help!  In fact one helper had such a great time, she already wanted to sign up for helping next year and this was a person who came to us first at a Pork Roast just a few years ago!

Cleanup is always the dreaded part, and it always seems that everyone thinks it is somebody else's task... but this year we had plenty of help cleaning up too!  What a blessing!

Another neat thing about this year was the attendance at worship before the Pork Roast... we advertise this as a "no strings attached" event and we mean it!  So, it was really cool to see so many folks come check out our worship gatherings too.  In fact we had our second largest crowd in attendance in worship since we bought the building in 2007!  

In addition to all that, and the thing that matters even more to me, is the number of folks who are finding value and meaning in being in a 5 Q Circle is growing.  I pray that we will see the day when nearly 100% of the folks affiliated with Community of Joy will be in one of these 5Q Circles!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love Serving King Jesus...

This morning I spent several hours being a blessing at Pinehurst Elementary School and I loved it.  Our congregation - Community of Joy is the faith based partners for the school and every quarter they have a good behavior incentive reward for those students being well behaved through out the months.  It is always fun to see the children and to get to work alongside the staff!  Today, we haded out ice pops to the students and watched them play on the playground for an extra half hour.  I love serving King Jesus in this way!  Always is gratifying!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stories Inspire Stories

Yesterday, I shared a story of an encounter I had at Walmart.  I even told the clerk at the Service Desk that she wouldn't have many of these kinds of conversations.  Boy was I wrong!  I heard several stories yesterday of people who did similar things.

My learning from that is that stories inspire stories.

So, as followers of Jesus... when we share our stories of God encounters with others, it inspires them and they soon have some stories of their own to tell.

Kind of reminds me of the old hymn... I love to tell the story... of Jesus and his love.

Won't you share your stories with others so that it will provoke more stories!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Would You Do?

This morning I had one of those moments where I made a choice to honor Christ but I could have easily made another choice.

I began not feeling well last night and needed some cold medicine to take during the day so that I wouldn't be drowsy.  So, after walking for most of my normal time, I headed to Walmart to get some medicine and milk.  I chose to use the self check out counters there and when I scanned my first cold medicine, it said that I needed authorization, so I asked the lady who oversees the registers to come help me.  She did and then I asked her to stay because I was sure that the next medicine would have the same issue.  She scanned it too and then went on her way.  I scanned the milk and pushed the "finish and pay" button only to see that my total was about $15 less than what I expected it would be.  I completed the transaction and looked at the receipt to see that it had charged me twice for the .88 medicine and had not charged me for the $14.47 medicine.  So here is the place I had a choice.

I could walk out and know that I got a $14.47 med for .88.  Or I could tell the lady and get her to correct it.

What would you do?

It wasn't a temptation to me at all!  I knew what I was going to do as soon as I saw it....

I went up to the lady and explained what happened and she didn't believe me so, she asked for the $14.47 med and scanned it.  Found that I was being honest.  Thanked me for my honesty and then sent me to customer service to get it cared for there.

Here was another place I had a choice... I could have just kept going and had a $14.47 medicine for .88.

Again it was not a choice for me... I went to customer service and told the lady, "you probably won't get many transactions like this today, but here is what happened and I owe you some money."   She rang in my credit of .88 and then the $14.47 medicine too.  I paid her the money and went on my way.

I can sleep tonight knowing that I represented Jesus well!  Even if the second lady didn't thank me for my honesty or not.  Because I am not living for the applause of people... I am living for the applause of nail scarred hands!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Downside is Up....

We continue to have good responses to our launching of 3 new 5 Q circles this week.  Yesterday's two circles had a total of 9 people between them and both had persons who want to come but were unable to come last night.  Leaders from both circles feel great about what they experienced last night and that makes me pumped!

The Tuesday circle that I lead, was cut in half by sending out 7 people to birth the new circles and when a couple of the regulars came in it was evident that the smaller size was a downer for them.  But the upside of that is that we made room in our circle and in a couple other circles for more people to experience the powerful transformation that we are experiencing.   In fact that very person who was visibly down shared in the sharing time that she had 3 other friends that were talking with her about joining her in the circle soon.  Those friends would not have found it as transforming if it were still so large.  

It was also cool to have another person in the circle share in response to that concern that a smaller circle allows for more intimacy and opportunity to connect with each other in greater ways.   The downside of birthing new circles really is UP!

Excited to see what tonight's men's circle brings! 

So thrilled that I headed the Holy Spirit's nudge to use the 5Q Circle idea as a way to disciple more people in the way of Jesus!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Still Flying High Today....

We launched our first of 3 new 5 Q Circles last night in a home in Quantico.  It had 9 participants, 4 who were new to the 5 Q Circle Process and 1 who was not previously known to Community of Joy!  The leaders shared great reports this morning and expect a couple others to join the circle soon.

Tonight is the Tuesday 7 p.m. Circle at Community of Joy's Ministry Center.  Wednesday night we have two new ones launching a 6:30 circle for women only at Community of Joy's Ministry Center and a 7 p.m. at a home in Salisbury.  Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Community of Joy's Ministry Center is a circle for men.  All are welcome to join the process.

It is exciting to see these leaders who have experienced the power of 5Q Circles for the past couple years now stretch their wings and lead new groups!  And it is exciting to see new folks checking out the transforming process of 5 Q Circles.  Whenever the people of God, gather around the word of God and invite the Spirit of God to guide them... powerful things happen.  Transformation really does happen best in circles.

There is still time to get in one.  No better time than today.

Check this link out for more information...

Monday, September 9, 2013

AWESOME THINGS HAPPENING...

I am on cloud nine right now... been a long time since I was on cloud nine! 

We have been praying for the Holy Spirit to guide us into new territory as a congregation at Community of Joy and that is exactly what is happening.  And I am pumped!

This week, we launch 3 new 5 Q Circles (actually one is using a different course of study) and that will give us a total of 5 5 Q Circles at Community of Joy.  Enthusiasm seems high for these transformative experiences!  The Tuesday Circle is birthing 2 of the 3 new circles and sending 4 leaders out of that circle to do it.  One will be in Quantico and one in Salisbury... both in homes.

In addition to that, yesterday at our 10:30 we added a bass player to the mix and it was AWESOME!  Last night that player told me that he intended to play on a regular basis.  The praise team is going to new heights and it is so neat to see.   Now if we could just get our 9 a.m. worship to the same level that would be awesome.

Yesterday in worship we had our third highest attendance in worship since moving into our new facility in 2007.  It is neat to see such energy and so many new faces joining the journey!  I pray that God will continue to ignite us and help us take the next step toward Jesus!