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Nov 18, 2018
Thanks Living
Series: (All)

November 18, 2018 “Thanks Living”

It's hard to believe it's just a week before Thanksgiving Day!

The days are speeding by quickly and if we're not careful we'll miss the opportunity to fully appreciate their meaning. Thanksgiving, the Advent Season, Christmas Eve and Day, the first day of a new year.... all are times to reflect and give thanks and praise to God for the gifts of life, fellowship, and hope.​_

I hope you will take advantage of our regular and special worship services during the coming weeks to grow your faith and devotion to God's Kingdom. We begin with this Sunday's Thanksgiving worship services in the morning and join together with area churches in our annual Community Thanksgiving Service at Mt. Sidney UMC (I'll be preaching, but don't let that keep you away!).

During Advent our Scripture lessons and sermons will focus on "The Christmas Story According to John." While Matthew and Luke are the traditional tellers of the story of Christ's birth, John's account points squarely to the purpose of Jesus' coming into the world, revealing his true nature as the Living Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

God is at work in our congregation and our Aisle 7 Fellowship campus. Please keep lifting up your prayers to God that we will be faithful to the mission he has given us. And as you pass the stuffing around the table next Thursday, remember to say a prayer or two (or more) of thanksgiving for God's leading, saving, and transforming grace in Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

1 Cor. 4:13-18

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  • Nov 18, 2018Thanks Living
    Nov 18, 2018
    Thanks Living
    Series: (All)

    November 18, 2018 “Thanks Living”

    It's hard to believe it's just a week before Thanksgiving Day!

    The days are speeding by quickly and if we're not careful we'll miss the opportunity to fully appreciate their meaning. Thanksgiving, the Advent Season, Christmas Eve and Day, the first day of a new year.... all are times to reflect and give thanks and praise to God for the gifts of life, fellowship, and hope.​_

    I hope you will take advantage of our regular and special worship services during the coming weeks to grow your faith and devotion to God's Kingdom. We begin with this Sunday's Thanksgiving worship services in the morning and join together with area churches in our annual Community Thanksgiving Service at Mt. Sidney UMC (I'll be preaching, but don't let that keep you away!).

    During Advent our Scripture lessons and sermons will focus on "The Christmas Story According to John." While Matthew and Luke are the traditional tellers of the story of Christ's birth, John's account points squarely to the purpose of Jesus' coming into the world, revealing his true nature as the Living Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    God is at work in our congregation and our Aisle 7 Fellowship campus. Please keep lifting up your prayers to God that we will be faithful to the mission he has given us. And as you pass the stuffing around the table next Thursday, remember to say a prayer or two (or more) of thanksgiving for God's leading, saving, and transforming grace in Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    1 Cor. 4:13-18

  • Nov 11, 2018When We All Get To Heaven
    Nov 11, 2018
    When We All Get To Heaven

    November 11, 2018 When We All Get To Heaven

    Election Day, November 6th

    I just came into the church office after voting. Now, siting at my desk, I'm reflecting on why it was so important that I took the time to vote. Here's why....

     In our nation voting is a privilege and a civic responsibility. It is the occasionally inspiring, sometimes disappointing, frequently frustrating act of fallen human beings placing their trust in a government led by their fellow fallen human beings while trusting in God's providential grace.

    When I vote I am not saying I believe in the infallibility of the candidates and their parties. I am not saying that one party has all the answers or that any one party's platform can create heaven on earth. If I believed that, I would be practicing idolatry.

     I vote because God has called us to be caretakers of this world we have inherited - and caretakers of each other. I vote because God in his providence has placed me in a nation where voting can bring about change, even if it is frequently slow and cumbersome and imperfect. I vote because I believe that many of the founding principles of this nation are in tune with those of God's Word, even though our history demonstrates that we often fall woefully short of upholding those principles [slavery, segregation, materialism above charity and justice, pleasure above morality, to name but a few.]

     I vote hoping I will not forget that there is but one Savior and one way to true life and peace. When I vote, I pray that God will somehow use that vote to bring into this world a little less chaos and a lot more kindness. I pray for all the candidates who ran but lost and for all those elected, that they will serve with wisdom and fairness. And I pray that through our votes we will live into the vision of a nation where there is liberty and justice for all.

     Especially at this juncture in our nation's history, I pray for all those in our world whose lives will be altered - for better or for worse - by our votes, including the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the homeless and tempest tossed (Emma Lazarus)." There are almost 70 million refugees worldwide, half of whom are children. One out of every eight persons in our world are undernourished, most of them non-adults. And twelve percent of the world's population live within 50 miles of a war zone, many of them innocent children and the elderly. Can we truly be great as a nation if we vote without considering the impact on the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable among us, from the unborn to the elderly and all in between?

     Finally, as I vote, I pray that God will bless America not for our personal comfort and security, but so that we can be a blessing to all nations. I voted today and I pray that you voted, too - prayerfully and with the assurance that God's "truth is marching on!"

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Revelation 21:1-11;22-27

  • Nov 4, 2018Their Names are Written in Heaven
    Nov 4, 2018
    Their Names are Written in Heaven

    November 4, 2011 Their Names are Written in Heaven

    All Saints Sunday November 4th

    In my humble opinion, there is no more moving, emotional, and important Sunday in the church year than All Saints Sunday. It is a day that reminds us of the hope and promise of our Christian faith; a day that brings us together to remember loved ones - and to celebrate the fact that their names are written in heaven (Hebrews 12).

    Within the church we "do not mourn as those who have no hope." We have no reason to avoid the topic of our own deaths or the deaths of those we love. For we have this blessed assurance - that Christ has died and is risen and will come again! Those who place their faith in him will meet again with all the angels and saints of Heaven before His throne!

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Hebrews 12:1-3; 22-24

  • Oct 28, 2018How Awesome Is This Place
    Oct 28, 2018
    How Awesome Is This Place

    October 28, 2018 How Awesome Is This Place!

    Verona UMC is an awesome place and an awesome church family. I know, because as pastor I witness daily the untold and uncounted good works and faith-filled actions of our members. Thank you to everyone who makes this a place we should be happy to come home to, not just on Homecoming Sunday but every day of the year!

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Genesis 28:10-22

  • Oct 21, 2018The Risks and Rewards of Following Jesus
    Oct 21, 2018
    The Risks and Rewards of Following Jesus

    October 21, 2018 The Risks and Rewards of Following Jesus

    Following Jesus is risky business.... maybe that's why churches sometimes tamper down certain parts of the Gospel when trying to increase their membership rolls. We advertise that our preacher is eloquent and charismatic. Our congregation welcomes visitors warmly. Our choir sings with glorious passion. Join us and your Sunday mornings will be well-spent and your spirits lifted.

    It can make following Jesus sound like a Saturday on the golf links at the local country club.

    What we often don't advertise are the numerous warnings in the Bible about the inherent risks of being a Jesus-follower. Jesus often discussed these risks with his disciples, a "buyer beware" approach based on his reading of their hearts. Jesus knew that many would enthusiastically begin their journey of discipleship with him, only to grow fearful and disillusioned along the way.

    Following Jesus has its rewards.... For no matter how many and great the risks, Jesus offers us peace in the midst of conflict, joy in the light of his presence, and an eternity in heaven where our tears will be dried in the very presence of God. This and so much more.

    Come this Sunday morning as we open God's Word and discover the risks and rewards of following Jesus.

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Matthew 10:32-42

  • Oct 14, 2018I Love My Church – Here’s Why!
    Oct 14, 2018
    I Love My Church – Here’s Why!

    October 14, 2018 I Love My Church – Here’s Why!

    There was a point in my life where I had given up on church. Brought up as a twice-on-Sunday, once-on-Wednesday church goer, I finally had had enough somewhere in my early 30's.

    After moving into a new community, my wife and I were having a hard time finding a church where we felt truly welcome. I had been a Bible major for a while in college and was a life-long student of the Bible so I set a high bar for a church's doctrines and beliefs. I came to a point where I truly despaired of ever finding a church home again.

    So I avoided church on Sundays for a year or so. We were living on a farm and there were lots of chores to catch up on every weekend. I even adopted the excuse used by many good men that "I can be just as close to God out in nature as I can in a church sanctuary."

    Obviously (since I'm a pastor now), at some point I did join a church. Amazingly, it was a small, rural United Methodist congregation, part of a denomination that I had always assumed wasn't for me. After all, the Methodists in my hometown used to host dances for their youth - obviously they were not taking God's Word seriously!

    So why did I join that particular church? What was the difference between that small United Methodist church with about 30 members and every other church in town, most with beautiful sanctuaries and programs galore? It was because we belonged there. We just knew this was where God had led us.

    Yes, the church we chose (or God chose for us) had a preacher in his 70's, a dying Sunday School program, painfully uncomfortable pews used as tables for amputations during the Civil War, and a bathroom that could only be accessed by walking outside and into another small building.There was even an organist who left her bench precisely at noon each Sunday lest she miss her tee time at the golf course. (I'm serious, she would get up and leave before the final hymn if the preacher was too long-winded).

    Still, this is where God had led us. Despite its many shortcomings, this church was filled with divine love. And it was in that small church that I fell in love with God and his church again. It was there that God called me to become a Pastor. It was there that God reminded me that we weren't meant to follow Jesus alone.

    We all need a place to belong so that we can become the person God wants us to be. A place of love and grace where the Good News of Jesus is preached and the Scriptures heard and obeyed by the grace of God. I believe Verona UMC is such a place. That's why I love my church!

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Psalm 84:1-4

  • Oct 7, 2018Serve Like Jesus
    Oct 7, 2018
    Serve Like Jesus

    October 7, 2018 Serve Like Jesus

    What does serving like Jesus look like?

    My granddaughter Annie has a servant's heart. She's four years old and always wants to make sure that everyone around her is okay. I've never noticed her washing her little brother's feet, but I think she wouldn't hesitant if asked.

    In John's gospel account of Jesus washing his disciple's feet, Jesus doesn't hesitate to serve Peter by washing his feet. While the disciples are still stunned and confused, Jesus instructs them that this is not just an isolated incident, a gimmick, or an attention-getting action. Serving each other is a practice that they are to adopt as a rule in their new faith community.

    The world is filled with people for whom a servant's heart comes naturally. I'm not sure why some people seem to have a servant's heart from the moment they are born, nor why some are so disinterested in caring for the needs of the people around them.

    But I do know this. Everything I read in the Gospel accounts (including this Sunday's passage from John 13:1-17), reminds me that I must have a servant's heart if I'm going to be a disciple of Jesus .

    Perhaps you are one of those for whom serving doesn't come naturally. You've never had that impulse and pull to put others first. You've found it hard to sacrifice time and energy to serve victims of natural disasters. You don't really like the inconvenience of holding a door open for someone as they enter a store; or mowing the grass for the elderly couple next door; or helping your spouse out by taking over their chores for awhile.

    But Jesus can help you. His Spirit, the Spirit he promises to all who trust in him, is a Spirit of service. Through His Spirit he will teach you and lead you into the joy of serving others, a joy that comes not out of recognition or rewards, but because you feel Christ's presence every time you serve.

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    John 13:1-17

  • Sep 30, 2018How Much Is Your Life Worth?
    Sep 30, 2018
    How Much Is Your Life Worth?

    September 30, 2018 How Much Is Your Life Worth?

    How Much Is My Life Worth?

    As I prepare for this Sunday's sermon, I am reminded of how easy it is to wander away from life's fundamental truths as taught by Jesus. Take the teachings of Jesus concerning the worship of stuff. You know... stuff. The things that seem so important when we first purchase them but now lie buried in the basement with little hope of resurrection. The job that was a dream until it turned into a nightmare. The money we set aside for those rainy days that never came. The investments and savings that are created more out of our fears and insecurities than reality.

    Stuff. We convince ourselves that the more we have, the happier we'll be. We convince ourselves that with the black magic of plastic cards we can afford every impulse of our hearts. We travel to places that will fill the emptiness of our lives. We escape from the boredom of reality in the dim light of a movie theater. We buy boats and cars and houses seeking that fleeting sense of satisfaction that we're just a little bit more successful than our neighbors.

    Even entire churches can get caught up in obsessing over buildings and financial security and "one-upping" the churches around them!

    Jesus had a lot to say about stuff and the ways in which we trade the gift of life for meaningless pursuits. He asked "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)?" Every second of labor, every moment of leisure, every day spent in pointless endeavors - Jesus sees as a deadly danger to our souls.

    How much is your life worth? Is your soul worth the price of the pursuits you've chosen? We'll dive into these questions this Sunday morning.

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Matthew 19:16-30

  • Sep 23, 2018Forgiveness the Jesus Way
    Sep 23, 2018
    Forgiveness the Jesus Way

    September 23, 2018 Forgiveness the Jesus Way – Rodney Bussard

    The Spirit Within Us

    Have you ever thought about the type of spirit that lives within you? Is it a spirit that builds up or tears down? Is it a spirit that is holy in love for others or a spirit of jealousy and spitefulness?

    It is so easy to cultivate a judgmental spirit. We assume the worst about others (but not necessarily about ourselves) and we make sure the people around us hear our complaints!

    Jesus had an encouraging spirit—just read the Gospel of John and his words of life and hope even as he faces the crucible of judgment and death.

    He was frequently targeted by "the destructive spirit of this world” that unfairly judges and condemns the innocent and righteous. Frequently we find in the Gospel accounts that:

    If Jesus associated with sinners,

    he was condemned as unclean, a glutton, and a drunkard.

    If Jesus forgave sins,

    he was condemned as a usurper of God’s authority to forgive sins.

    If Jesus mercifully healed on the Sabbath,

    he was condemned as a lawbreaker.

         In I Thessalonians 5:11 we are told to "encourage one another and build each other up.” The next time you are tempted to speak ill of another, consider whether it is the encouraging Spirit of Jesus or the destructive spirit of this world that is controlling your words.

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    Matthew 18:21-25

  • Sep 16, 2018Love Is
    Sep 16, 2018
    Love Is

    September 16, 2018 Building on God’s Love – Youth Sunday 2018

    Our youth will bless the church this Sunday as we celebrate "Youth Sunday" at the 8:30 and 11:00 services. Music will be led by our youth band and the message from I Corinthians 13 will be shared by Paige Sailor. Other youth will lead us in prayers and Scripture readings.

    I'm always amazed at how God uses our youth under the leadership of Bill and Carolyn Harlow and the help of other adults who regularly accompany the youth group on mission trips. Over the years our youth have served others from Mexico to the Dominican Republic to sites throughout the United States. Please come on Sunday and be blessed by this remarkable group of disciples of Jesus!

    Grace and peace, Pastor Bob

    1 Corinithans 13:4-8a