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“Living According to the Riches of God’s Love”

                                         “Living According to the Riches of God’s Love” ….and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. -Ephesians 3:17- The Bible tells us that being alive means being loved by God. It means that we can love only because we are born out of love, that we can give only because our life is a gift, and that we can make others free only because we are set free by God whose heart is greater than ours. When we place our lives at the center of God’s love, God creates a space where we can enter and dance our own dance, sing our own song, and speak our own language without fear. Our faith walk will no longer be a burden or threatening or demanding but it will be inviting and liberating. God is rich and abundant in love! God is love and that he loves. This is the simplest, deepest, and truest statement the New Testament makes of God. Because He loves, He acts in love. Love is in and over all His works. In love and for love He has created us out of nothing. In love and for love and by love He has redeemed us from sin, death, and the power of Satan. In love and for love and by love He sanctifies us unto eternal life. We are to root our lives in this love. This love is without meaning unless we are rooted and grounded in it. For us children of God, love is not something we arrive at, it is something from which we start. We arrive at love only because we start from it. The story of the movie Fireproof is a classic example of this. Kirk Cameron a heroic fire captain who values dedication and service to others above all else, found himself living from the periphery of his most important part of his life-his marriage. For him, life without his wife will be meaningless. He tried everything, yet he came to discover that no matter how they work hard, they failed to arrive at love. But when they start from love, the ending of the movie shows that they were able to arrive at love. For us love is not so much something we live for, as it is something we live by. Only as we live by love are we enabled to live for love. We, children of God do not so much fall on love, as we fall in love; only as we fall in love have we any right to fall on the love of others. For us love is...

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Something Supernatural

“Something Supernatural” Act 2:42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[b] and ate their food with glad and generous[c] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. On behalf of my family, thank you for the wonderful potluck welcome fellowship. As I have stated in my sermon, we are blessed, and we anticipate something great and wonderful new beginning. In this transition we continue to ask what is it that God intends for us and for our church? If we are blessed and chosen, if anticipate for something that is great and wonderful in this new beginning, what is it that God intends for us and our church. My answer is that, “God wants us to fully enjoy the life He had promised for us and He wants our church to be His best hope for Gladbrook Community. God wants us to experience Something Supernatural. HOW DO WE EXPERIENCE THAT? We experience it if we share the same motivation with God and with one another. Something supernatural happens when God’s people put their heads and hearts together. Something Supernatural happens when we become one in motivation with God. In order to achieve this, we must be willing to let go of the life we wish so as the life that God wants us to have as a community will come to us. We must be focused in bringing people to God and bringing the Church to the people. We must cultivate the highest motivation in telling the story of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Something supernatural happens when God’s people put their heads and hearts together. Acts 2:44 says, “All who believed were together and had all things in common….” We experience it when the Church prays much. Do you know that the growth of the church is in direct proportion to prayer? Bishop Trimble stated in his Episcopal Address in 2014, “No prayer, no power. Little prayer, little power. More prayer, more power. Much prayer, much power.” The first business of the church is prayer. The only business of the church is prayer. We become faithful disciples...

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Monday Morning Musings

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Cor. 5:7 There at the top of my book case is a little engraving of that verse inside a frame. It was given to me by church members in Williamsburg. They tucked it into a moving box that went with me to Decorah. The Williamsburg church was about to make an important decision about the old church building and what to do to accommodate the growing congregation. So when I saw the engraving I smiled. The verse provided to us encouragement and assurance that God was indeed, unfolding the map as that church and I walked forward. Little did they know that within five years their congregation would worship in a new building. Little did I know about my future too. I had no clue that during the summer of 2013 God would transplant me once again. This time to Gladbrook. My goodness, since the time of my arrival a lot of water has gone under the bridge. We have some terrific new church members. We have said “good-bye for now” to great Christians who have entered into eternity and are now a part of the company of Saints (including my mother). Our ministry through missions keeps evolving and touching new places. The leaders of Sunday school and the Community Kid’s Club ministry have expanded and grown in confidence. And the children have grown too. Although we are in the midst of changes inside of our beloved denomination, there is stability here. The general mood of our church is lighter, yet it has energy, don’t you think? Moving always pulls on the strings of our hearts too. When I am packing for the moving van, I want you to know that the good friendships, great memories, and experiences God has given to us are being packed for the journey and will not be forgotten. Thank you for being such a faithful Christian community and great friends of mine. The blessing of our denomination is that I am confident Rev Gideon and Jhonna Gallo, (Ruthie and Josh) will lead and serve here with all of their hearts, minds, strengths and wills. It will be awesome to have a family in the parsonage and to be with them as they learn the ropes. Let’s all be mindful that Pas-tor Gideon and his family are “walking by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) too. So I am confident you will do your best to work with the Gallo family and bring to fruit whatever God has intended for the Gladbrook church and community. Let me complete this final musing with something I wrote a long time...

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Monday Morning Musings

(this Musing borrows from a meditation written by Rev Dr Deborah Stowers, Sr. Minister of the Mount Pleasant UMC. in 2013) These days boxes have taken a new priority in my life. These two eyes can spot and focus upon an empty one from blocks away. Packing peanuts are new treasures too. My appearance may seem to be calm but the voices in my mind have not stopped planning or figuring. They are constant. “Oh, this sturdy box would be good for nick knacks.” “Can a group of small boxes be combined to fit into a bigger one?” “Can I spare this box to use for my Goodwill donations?” “How many boxes of annual tax forms do I truly need to keep?” Yesterday I happened to notice an imprint on several boxes and I was reminded of something Rev. Stowers shared with me. The imprint is a ‘box certificate.’ It contains important information that is helpful to read and follow. It addresses how much can fit in the box, what weight can be safely carried inside of it and how much can be piled on top of the box without crushing. Look at the boxes you have stored in the closet and you might find a certificate too. Apparently the manufacturers of boxes have set standards that report the strengths and limitations of each box. If I were to try packing a drum (25 inches tall) in a box sized at 24 inches, I will be out of luck. And, when I start a new stack of boxes in the side room it’s good to know that they can withstand 32 lbs/sq. inch without falling flat as a pancake and spilling my precious valuables all over the floor. When a carton has a weight limit of 65 lbs before the bottom drops out, a person must pack accordingly. Now you can just imagine why Rev. Stowers felt it was important to tell me about box certificates and how to read them. Human beings do not have a “human certificate” stamped upon our body. But just think how handy it would be to have that information and to know one’s strengths, abilities and limitation before hitting that red zone where they are in danger of being surpassed. Of course people can stretch and grow and change, but there re-main limitations. We may not have this information handy, but God knows us better than we know our-selves. There is a certain amount of stuff we are capable of containing without bursting. The pressure of those things others pile on top of us can only go so high. God has no intention of allowing the bottom to...

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Monday Morning Musings

Have you used the old expression “Would, you help me out because I’m still in the dark?” Or, have you asked someone to “enlighten” you? Not long ago I attended a class where a lamp stand was passed around, and when someone had a good idea they were encouraged to pull the chord and turn on the light before sharing with the others. The metaphors of light and dark are common in use. And that’s been true through the ages. The Gospel of John explains that Jesus is the Light of the World. All of us understand the importance of light and just what this description of Jesus Christ means So, it isn’t hard to catch onto the depth of despair described in the Gospels as they tell of the death of Jesus. This terrible event was accompanied by darkness that fell across the land at midday. And there was the blackness of the tomb that was sealed with the stone. While I do not know fact, many dramas depicting this event will accompany the telling with murky skies, lightening and mud. Those who were witnesses of these events were left with destitute spirits. The contrast between light and dark or day and night is something I have pondered for a long time. Recently it led me to attempt to find a place where I could experience total blackness. I tried to find a spot outside, but even when I tucked into a shadowless cavern there was light. I tried shuttering myself into an interior room of the house, but even with all bulbs off, light crept under the door. Once, I thought I found a place where I would be in total darkness, but my eyes adjusted, and I saw dusky impressions. So after my failed attempts I returned to scripture with a renewed understanding that light has the qualities of persistence and endurance. It is no wonder when Jesus was described as “the Light of the World” or the “Light of Life” the metaphors are so powerful for me. It is no wonder they are linked to the Easter promise of eternity within the light of his presence. Well, I’m yet not done with my study of ways the two terms, (darkness and light), are used in the Gospel of John, the New Testament and the theology they present But since I’ve spent all this time pondering, I am even more thankful for the gift of light and life Jesus Christ brought to a dull and dying world. My prayer is that all of us will remember the importance of his gift as spring returns to our world, or each time the...

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