March 2017

Who was St. Patrick?

As he still lives among that “great cloud of witnesses,” which surrounds the throne of God, perhaps I should ask; who is he?

First and foremost, St. Patrick is a child of God; second, he is our brother in Christ.

Why did he become famous?

That is a longer story, and worthy of telling because his life brought Glory to God.

While Patrick was credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland, he was God’s servant, who brought the Gospel of Jesus to Ireland.  He became a shepherd of God’s people there.

Time and folklore may have embellished his story, a wee bit, and yet the life he lived continues to inspire believers today:

Saint Patrick was a British boy, who became a slave in Ireland.  He later escaped from Ireland and was educated in continental monasteries.  As a servant of God, he returned to Ireland preaching and teaching the Gospel and building churches, among the very people who had held him a slave.  Saint Patrick is now the Patron Saint of Ireland.  He died about 485 A.D.

In Ireland, St. Patrick demonstrated the sacrificial love of God.  He wanted to give his life in order to make a difference in the lives of the Irish, regardless of how they had mistreated him when he was a boy.

One of the themes of Lent is self-sacrifice.

How are we doing with self-sacrifice?

Taking time to focus on the Lenten programs of the Church, along with worship, prayer, the study of His Word, fellowship and witness, can help us “To know Christ and make Him known.”

What is going on at Church this Lenten season?

To begin, we have written our own Lenten Devotional Guide, which features daily devotions for each of the forty days of Lent, plus the Sabbaths, leading up to Resurrection Sunday.  I want to take a moment to thank all of you, who contributed to this project.  I know God will bless you for taking time to share your hearts in this way.  The Lenten Devotional Guide begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017, and continues throughout Lent, until Easter Sunday morning.

Other special activities for Lent include:

Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 7:00 p.m., at Otterbein UMC.

Lenten Lunches sponsored by the Russell Area Association of Churches, March 8th through April 12th.  Otterbein will host the lunch on March 22.

Maundy Thursday Service & Holy Communion, Thursday, April 13, 2017, 7:00 p.m., at Bunker Hill UMC.

Good Friday Community Service, Fri. March 25, 2016, First Congregational Church, at 12:05 p.m.  Pastor Ron Wedel, preacher.

Easter Sunrise Service, Otterbein UMC, Sunday, April 16, at 6:45 a.m.

Easter Sunday Worship Services, at 9:15 a.m., Bunker Hill & 10:45 a.m., Otterbein.

Brother Patrick made a difference in the lives of the Irish, by receiving and offering the forgiveness of Christ.

Lent is a time when we should seek the Lord’s guidance and pray for those who are not walking with Him.  His great heart of Love is filled with compassion for the least, the last and the lost.  That includes you and me.

Don’t let the season of Lent go by, without your participation.  Get involved at Church, and watch God stretch your faith, as He also lengthens the days of spring.  I’ll see you in Church!

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Michael

February 2017

“Beloved, let us love one another” – 1 John 4:7a

I am amazed by the Love of God, which stands in such stark contrast to this world we live in!  The world seems to bubble with insanity; but the world is really an opportunity for the Church to reach out in love.  So, the world is crazy; that’s not exactly new revelation!

Yet, in the midst of this insanity, God calls us to a higher way. In fact, at the end of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul finished talking about how the Body of Christ functions in its various “job descriptions”, and then wrote:

“And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

What follows is “The Love Chapter”; Paul’s beautiful discourse on Love, as the Holy Spirit inspired him:

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails”

Throughout the history of the Church, God has raised up leaders, who learned how to love, by watching the example of Jesus.

Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa, is famous for her incredible love for the impoverished children of Calcutta, India.  Yet some leaders in the Church miss the importance of her example; as they replace humility, with the pursuit of power, influence, prestige and the trappings of success.          We don’t all need to be “important”, but we do all need to be faithful.  Saint Teresa became important, because it was never her goal, to be important … only faithful.  She is famous for saying this:

“Not all of us can do great things.        

But we can do small things with great love.”

Saint Valentine  Was a man who let Jesus transform his life.

Valentinus allowed Christ to prevail over his ego, his pride and his carnal nature; and what resulted, was love.  All we really know about St. Valentine is that he was a Christian who lived in the third century, and yet … the stories that surround him, are stories of Christ-like character.

One legend about Valentine, states that he was persecuted as a servant of Christ and thrown in prison.  When the judge learned of his faith in Christ, he ordered Valentine to pray for his blind daughter and ask God to heal her.  The story goes that when St. Valentine prayed for the judge’s daughter, her sight was restored, and so the grateful judge granted all of Valentine’s requests.

It’s February 2017, and we are God’s people and the sheep of His pasture.  He calls us to love the unlovable; to reach out to those who do not know Him.  He calls us to work with those who can never repay us.  There will always be unbelievers, whose lives are badly off-track.  Sometimes they are difficult to work with, and even difficult to love, but God’s call remains the same:

7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.                        8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  – 1 John 4:7-8.

When we learn to reach out in love, we will win unbelievers with kindness!  In some cases, Christ’s witnesses have been killed by the people they were trying to share the Love of God with.

Elizabeth Elliott chose to forgive the people who murdered her husband; she returned to them, with the unfailing Love of God!  They were so overwhelmed by her marvelous grace, many of them converted to Christianity.

It has been said that the Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.  Let’s pray for the world around us, and let’s pray for ourselves, to ask God to help us love those who do not know our Glorious God!

In Christian Love,

Pastor Michael

January 2017

Happy 2017!

It’s time to begin again.  What does all mean?
For a people of HOPE- everything!
Let me encourage you to commit your year to the LORD; to bath it in prayer.

In biblical times, to gather the people for prayer, or to proclaim news, or to sound the battle cry, the Jewish people would blow the shofar.  If you’ve heard the sound of the shofar, let me tell you, it stirs the spirit!

The prophet Joel, under the power of the Holy Spirit, said this;

“2 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand!” – Joel 2

On the cusp of a New Year, can you hear the Spirit of God calling?          And if so, what is He whispering to your heart?                                            I am hopeful about 2017.

Recently, in our worship service, the liturgy included the phrase; “Deliverance is at hand!”  When I read this proclamation, a chill went up and down my spine.

Why?

Because God is on the move!

Will people who expect nothing, see the LORD move?  But … if you can sense the power of the Holy Spirit, working in our midst, then begin to tremble with anticipation!  It makes me want to shout Hallelujah!

Jesus was teaching in His hometown synagogue, at Nazareth, when the people rejected Him for speaking the Word of God.  How did He react?

He said;  4b “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”  5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.  6 And He marveled because of their unbelief.”               – Mark 6

I don’t want the LORD to marvel at our unbelief.  So, as I feel a stirring in my spirit, and sense that God is on the move, I look to the heavens with a hopeful heart!

Have you heard of the Year of Jubilee?

In Old Testament times, it happened every 50 years, when seven groups of seven years had passed.  Seven is the number of perfection and completion.  So in the fiftieth year, all property would revert back to its original owner.  Slaves would be freed.  Inheritance restored.  If the years had been harsh, it didn’t matter; God’s truth spoke louder still.

In 2017, God defines you.  His voice reverberates, to shake the heavens and the whole earth!  He speaks His defining truth, to you and to me; We are His people and He is our God!

Perhaps 2017 will be our Year of Jubilee!  Can you hear Him whisper; “Deliverance is at hand!”  In my spirit, I can hear the sound of the shofar!  Bring it on, Holy God!

In Christ, Pastor Michael

December 2016

December 2016

A fiery, bright, celestial object, the natal star, blazed in the night sky over Bethlehem.

All around the sleepy village was the still deep, blue of a winter’s night.  This beautiful star serves as a metaphor for the promised Messiah.  As it’s radiant light pierced the darkness of that night, so Jesus, the Light of the World pierces the darkness of bethlehemhuman souls, as we are awakened by His Holy Spirit.

The proclamation of the Gospel begins with the prophets of old, such as Isaiah, who foretold the story of Messiah’s birth 700 years before the blessed event.

Hear Isaiah’s passionate words from chapter seven …

10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Advent is a season of four weeks including four Sundays.  Advent derives from the Latin adventus, which means “coming.”  The season proclaims the first and second comings of the Christ, Whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, Immanuel (God with us) comes continually in Word and Spirit, and His return in final victory we anticipate.

It was John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, who 700 years later, proclaimed the words of Isaiah from chapter 40:

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.  3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

Today, the clarion call reaches our ears in the same way;

“…prepare the way for the LORD.”

Can you hear heaven calling out to you, with the blessed news?

3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

This year, as we prepare to celebrate birth of our Glorious King, do not let the Spirit of Christ be passed along to more receptive hearts.  Instead, let God’s Holy Spirit fill you anew, with the wonder and radiance of the true meaning of Christmas:  the Spirit of Christ living in us.

Blessed Christmas,

Pastor Michael

Harvest Season

harvest-photo-4

Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

The Workers Are Few

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples.

This time of year, when farmers are gathering their harvest before winter, we are reminded of the harvest of souls.  Many people, today, are living without the Hope which comes from knowing Jesus.

Our sincere prayer is that you would come to know Him!

As the people of Otterbein United Methodist Church, we are not perfect, but we are forgiven by our Loving Savior.  God’s Grace makes it possible for us to live our lives for Jesus.  We often fail to live exactly how our Lord would have us, and we are far from perfect, but we are so grateful for our salvation, that we want to do everything we can, to share the Good News of Jesus with you!  We would love to have you come and join our fall activities at Otterbein UMC!  If you do, we believe you will be blessed, and we know we will be blessed!

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”