Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Place in Building Bridges

Read and reflect again on 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.  Pray for Trinity Outreach Celebration 2013 speakers and leaders.  Pray for our congregation and every member as we respond to the opportunities to follow Christ this year, and as we make commitments of praying, funding, and participating in the mission of God locally, nationally, and internationally.  Pray for our community and world as we listen for the needs that are opportunities for us to be messengers from God by our words and deeds.

Our preachers will be Dr. Kemper and Rev. McClain and we are pleased to welcome them and all of the presenters to Augusta and to Trinity on the Hill.

TOC 2013 Leaders:

Dr. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary, GBGM

Rev. Dick McClain, President & CEO, The Mission Society

Rev. Patrick Friday, Director of In Mission Together, GBGM

Rev. Nora Martinez, Assistant General Secretary of Mission and Evangelism, GBGM

Rev. Mande Muyombo, Executive Secretary for Africa in Mission and Evangelism GBGM

Mr. Stan Self, Senior Director of Church Ministry, The Mission Society

Rev. Mike Selleck, Director of the Office of Connectional Ministries, NGUMC

Rev. Jasmine Smothers, Associate Director in the Office of Connectional Ministries, NGUMC

Mrs. Kim Torres, Church and Community Worker, South Florida Urban Ministries

Rev. Debra Tyree,  Executive Secretary for Global Praise, GBGM

Dr. Winston Worrell, Director, World Methodist Evangelism Institute

Listen quietly to God's call and direction in your life.  Pray for yourself and be completely prepared for what you will find as you enjoy the mission seminar on Saturday and the outreach challenge on Sunday!

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blessed IF You Do Them

Read John 13:1-17.

Not much needs to be said about these Bible verses.  The challenge comes in the doing.  The blessing comes in following the example of Jesus, and in the action of faith.

It is true that the mission of God is relational, and challenging, and often times a messy business. 

But, it’s also redemptive, transformational, and the way God has shown us to live and act. 

“If you know these things you are blessed if you do them.”

Pray for Wesley Woods & the Lydia Project.  Since 1954 North GA Methodists have served older adults through housing, healthcare, education and research ministries through Wesley Woods.  While most of the efforts are in Atlanta this has local expression at St. John’s Towers.  The Lydia Project serves women facing cancer by providing hand-crafted tote bags, prayer and ongoing support.cing
 cancer by providin

Use your extra devotion time today to be in prayer for the Saturday mission seminars and the Sunday worship emphasis on mission.  The impact of our praying, participating, and funding of our outreach partners in the coming year is vital!  There is an urgency to our work locally, nationally, and internationally that should not be lost upon us.  This is your last chance to register for a Saturday workshop!  Go to http://trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=576 and get ready to learn more so you will be more effective for Christ!

Meet the presenter:  Rev. Debra Tyree works with GBGM's Global Praise in Nashville.  We are pleased her 16 year old son Jonathon will join her to lead a workshop!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wait, Who Is My Neighbor?

Read Acts 1:6-8.

Similar to the disciples in Acts we still tend to be confused about the Kingdom of God.  Too often we try to impose our religion upon others so that they dress, think, and act like us.  The Kingdom of God is much more than our culture and customs.  It comes alive for us, through the power of God's Spirit, in such ways that our lives, our priorities, our focus, our way of being in community, even our way of viewing the world are all changed.  Notice that the Kingdom, and the way of understanding who our neighbor is, can’t be contained to folk in our neighborhood who are just like us.  The early followers of Christ realized this as they found the way of Messiah was not only for Jewish people, but an action of God for the whole world.  Thus, they had to be in mission and ministry to the entire world, from local neighbors they knew well to the very “ends of the earth.”  A disciple and church are at our best when we have this extravagant, inclusive view of and earnest care and concern for our neighbors.   

John Wesley spoke of this neighborly way of Christian living when he said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Ask yourself: Have I received the power of the Holy Spirit?  Who am I witnessing my faith to in honest, altruistic ways in Jerusalem (locally)?  Who am I witnessing my transparent, real faith to in Judea (nationally)?  Who am I witnessing my serving, caring faith to in Samaria (nearby enemy country)?  Who am I witnessing this way of living, talking, and acting after Christ to at the “ends of the earth?”      

Pray for the Singh family.  The Singhs are partners we encourage and support as they serve in their native India.  They are involved in education, social ministries, and sharing the way of Christ in preaching and teaching which respects the rich culture and heritage of India and shares the Good News.   

Learn more about Christianity in India at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_India or find other information that will inform you and challenge you.

Meet the presenter:  Rev. Nora Colmenares Martinez.
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Who Are You Waiting On?

Read the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20.

The first disciples, and we who are disciples today, have a job to do.  In many real ways, we are the ones who are to continue the story that is left untold as the Gospel of Matthew doesn’t conclude, but is handed off to us.  In word and deed we are to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We are to 1) go and 2) make disciples of all nations.  This involves baptizing and teaching and living the Kingdom of God way of life which Jesus has shown us.  Matthew 9:35-36 is one of many illustrations of this sort of lifestyle and kingdom approach.  The next verse is sometimes quoted around churches when the number of workers is compared to the work that needs to be done, "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."

Hear this directly:  God needs you to go to work and the church needs you to go to work!

We can’t wait on the “other guy” to step up.  We are a large church, yet we aren’t as effective as we need to be if you aren’t “in the action.”  The mission isn’t on track if you aren’t living out the Great Commission and serving as a bridge of reconciliation between the church and community.  Imagine what the community will be like if every person takes on one mission and ministry.  Dream about a community where we tithe our time in mission and outreach as we diligently as we tithe our funds to the church.  Hope for, and live toward, being the bridge that is built as we share the great commission in our community and “connect the dots” between our activity and relationships in the community and our function as a church that reaches Augusta/Richmond County, Columbia County, and the CSRA for Christ.        

Our individual lives, and our corporate church life, will take on new meaning and vitality as we live out the Great Commission for this generation of neighbors in the Augusta region. 

"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed" — Hudson Taylor

"Is not the commission of our Lord still binding upon us? Can we not do more than now we are doing?" — William Carey

Ask yourself:  What hinders me from joining in the mission of Christ today?  Is it doubt, or fear, or apathy, or what stops me?  What would it take for me to get more active in the mission of God?  What one person might I help become part of the Kingdom of God and our church this year? 

Pray for Turn Back the Block as work continues in Harrisburg to reconstruct homes, families, and the neighborhood as we help more people become homeowners.  Recent statistics show that 14% of Harrisburg Homes are vacant or abandoned, and that less than 25% of the homes are owner-occupied. 


Meet the presenter:  Mr. Stan Self.
 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Essentials of the Christian Life

Read Acts 2:42-47.

Too often we separate different elements of the Christian life as if some things are necessary and other Church activities or programs are merely optional.  Worship, discipleship, study, prayer, fellowship, evangelism, and mission are all integral to the whole Christian life.  The growing, productive Christian will practice all of these habits throughout the day and week in all the settings we are involved.  These habits will be expressed in the various locations of God’s Kingdom work- in our homes, at our work, at school, at church, and in the community.  We are called to live a holistic Christian life in all of those realms.  This sort of lifestyle involves a solid balance that is healthy, sustainable, and has impact.  Our experiences individually in following Christ, and collectively as a Church, should be very similar to the pattern found in Acts 2.  THAT is a dynamic church in action in the community and in following God!    

"The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become." — Henry Martyn, 18th Century missionary and Bible translator in India. 

A Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, wrote that:
“Prayer is surrender - surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.”

As we continue to seek the will of God we will find many practical opportunities to explore and express God’s Kingdom today.  Ask yourself:  What changes does this require of me to be involved in God’s mission?  What will our church look like as Acts 2 becomes a reality here?

Pray for the United Methodist Children’s Home.  This North Georgia United Methodist ministry was founded in 1871 and continues its important work today due to the ongoing support of our congregation and others.  A district office has been in Augusta since 1977 and our church enjoys a strong partnership with Thurman Norville and Mildred Ivey as we work together with local families.

Learn more:  http://www.umchildrenshome.org/.

Meet the presenter:  Rev. Jasmine Smothers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Urgency of the Mission

Read Matthew 5: 1-14.

If you keep up with the daily news in our community it can sometimes seem like there is more Bad News than there is Good News.  In truth many of the big problems of our community have a spiritual root.  Too many lives are derailed and broken as some of us chase after addictions.  There is too much violence in too many homes and neighborhoods.  Too many of our neighbors seem to have lost their salt, to have lost their light.  This can easily happen to any of us.  This doesn’t call for condemnation or judgment, but for a missional lifestyle as expressed in the Beatitudes which helps reestablish reconciliation with God and with our neighbors.    

In many respects being in mission for God puts us directly at that intersection of the nature, purpose, and action of God AND the great needs and dreams of the crowd of humanity.  We join Christ in teaching and healing giving all the honor and glory to God who we seek to reflect.   

This is a call to tough work which demands consistency and requires we join God’s work in the community.  It’s a call to take some risks, give our time and energy, and jump into the work “in the trenches.”  It’s a call for some to roof houses and rebuild lives.  It’s a call for some to mentor children or adults living in neighborhoods you might not normally frequent.  It’s a call for us to re-prioritize our lives, our spending, our calendars, our goals.  It’s a call to feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and go to the imprisoned (read Matthew 25:31-46).  It’s a call to take the church to these children of God, and for us to bring these brothers and sisters into the church.  This mission is urgent!  It may mean life or death for some in our community.  It requires us to take up the cross of Jesus and follow the way of Christ.   

This won’t come as any surprise to you, but there are two ends to a bridge!  In terms of mission, one end of the bridge might be our outreach relationships and activity in the community, and the other vital, necessary end should be invitation, inclusion, and involvement in the church.  What better way to love God and love neighbor than to express the way of Christ in community and in the family of faith we call Trinity on the Hill?!  

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" — Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950's trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador

Sing if you know these old Methodist hymns.  If you don’t enjoy the powerful words that still cry out for our action today. 

“Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast”

Words: Charles Wesley, 1747 (Luke 14:16-24)

1. Come, sinners, to the gospel feast; let every soul be Jesus' guest.

Ye need not one be left behind, for God hath bid all humankind.

2. Sent by my Lord, on you I call; the invitation is to all.

Come, all the world! Come, sinner, thou!

All things in Christ are ready now.

3. Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed, ye restless wanderers after rest;

ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind, in Christ a hearty welcome find.

4. My message as from God receive; ye all may come to Christ and live.

O let his love your hearts constrain, nor suffer him to die in vain.

5. This is the time, no more delay!  This is the Lord's accepted day.

Come thou, this moment, at his call and live for him who died for all.

Ask yourself:  What urgent needs in the community do I need to respond to as I follow Christ and respond to the prayers of my neighbors?  What bold steps do I need to take this year to act on the call of the Matthew 25 passage?  How might our church become a “mission outpost” this year due to my efforts?  What steps should we take to make sure both ends of the “mission bridge” are strong?

Pray for:  the “home grown” missions of our church as members have taken this call of God to heart—FROGs (our retired members who do construction for local, nonprofit ministries), community service days, Super Saturday (monthly program and meal for over 200 special needs adults), JOY Club (weekly independent special needs adults who gather for Wednesday Night Supper and a devotion), the regional and national teams that assist in reconstruction after disasters and all the church servants who respond to special appeals in the community and with our mission partners.      

Learn more: Keep up with ongoing opportunities in the Sunday bulletin, weekly e-news, or contact me in the mission office.  In addition to maintaining the historic missions we’re always curious about new “home grown” missions out of our congregation as we respond to God and the needs in our community.

Meet the presenter:  Dr. Winston Worrell.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Different Way Through Town… and Life

Read Luke 10: 25-37.

Most of us get locked into familiar patterns as part of our routine.  We travel the same streets.  We do the same activities day after day, and week after week.  We get accustomed to spending time with our “regular” group of people.  We also become adept at learning not to cause trouble and not to break any social taboos. 

We can easily pass through some parts of town with another destination in mind.  So, as we think about the next meeting, or enjoy our music in the safety of our vehicle, we may never lock eyes or spend time with people in Harrisburg… or south Augusta… or Olde Town… or Bethlehem.  Matter of fact, we may not even drive through some parts of “our” town unless we get lost.

Christ seemed to take delight in crossing the street, crossing the railroad tracks, crossing the barriers.  More than get “off the beaten path,” he’d strike up conversations and relationships with the folk everyone else would look past.  Of course, he had his critics due to such behavior.  Yet the kingdom of God was reaching out to touch the physically broken, the soldiers and tax collectors, the rich and the poor, the women with questionable backgrounds, the Gentiles and people from distant countries, and even people such as ourselves.        

The religious folk in the passage didn’t respond like their theology, their sermons, and their worship songs suggested they should.  The hero in the story told by Jesus turns out to be a Samaritan- one from the country next to Israel that didn’t worship or live correctly from a traditional Jewish viewpoint.  The tough sermon is that our true faith about God is revealed in how we treat our neighbors, even those that we might think of as lifelong enemies.  This is the way of Christ and it is the way of his disciples.     

Ask yourself:  How can I love God and love my neighbor as myself?  Where am I in the Samaritan story?  How will I give like the Samaritan to show God’s mercy?  Who do I need to see as my neighbor that in the past I would have overlooked?

Pray for Red Bird Mission.  Methodists have worked in rural Appalachia since the 1920’s sharing Good News and addressing the variety of needs that are found in the mountains.    

Learn more:  http://www.rbmission.org/

Meet a presenter:  Rev. Patrick Friday will help us learn stronger ways of being a good mission partner.  His sessions will help us chart more powerful partnerships that generate effective mission and ministry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Following the Way of Christ

Read Isaiah 6:1-8.

Who will God send?  As I've heard numbers of preachers say over the years, "You are the who!"

Dr. Philip Potter wrote, “The God of the Bible is a missionary God, a God who sends.  God sent Abraham and Sarah.  God sent Moses and Miriam.  God sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  God sent the Apostles through the power of the Son and the Spirit.  God so loved the world he sent his only Son…  It is always someone who is sent, someone who goes!”  Faithful Witnesses, p. 37-38. 

In recent years many of us have continued to sing a favorite church hymn, but change one crucial word in it.  If you listen closely you’ll see that some Sundays as we conclude worship with the old favorite as some have picked up on the adjustment while others have not noticed the change.  The song “Here I Am Lord” is a wonderful tune with powerful words, yet one small word was theologically incorrect.  The conditional “if” is all wrong.  We are the ones who make mission, and outreach, and evangelism a conditional—if we feel like it, if it fits our plans, if it isn’t too uncomfortable, if we can maintain the lifestyle that is our preference, if God makes it so that we don’t have any other options.  Substitute “when” and “where” and you get a much stronger song that is consistent with Scripture and with the Christian faith.

“Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go, Lord, where you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.”

God is still sending people to work in the Kingdom today.  Who will go?

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" — William Carey, (17 August 1761 – 9 June 1834) English Baptist missionary often called the father of modern missions.

Ask yourself:  Have I heard God’s call to our city and world?  Where is God sending me today?  Who is God calling me to this year? 

Pray for the missionaries we can’t name who are serving in difficult circumstances, in hostile countries or regions, with obstacles and lacking resources which we often take for granted.  Pray for the missionaries- short term and long term, lay people and career- who will come out of our congregation in response to God’s call.  Who are the adults, children, and youth we are nurturing in faith that will respond to God to serve locally, nationally, or internationally as workers in God’s Kingdom?

If you want to know more contact me to discuss how you might best respond to God and be in mission. 

Meet the presenters:  Rev. Mike Selleck.  Mike will help us see the potential in partnership with other Methodist conferences around the world found in the Bridges Initiative.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

God's Mission as a Way of Life

Read Ephesians 2:8-10.

It is a useful exercise, on Martin Luther King Day, to read one of the preacher's sermons and consider what that call of God might look like today.   "The Drum Major Instinct" is famous as his last sermon and includes the often remembered:  "Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter."  It was based on a sermon by a Methodist preacher and encouraged the congregation to seek greatness through service and love.  The sermon was based on Mark 10:35-45 where the disciples are all trying to be higher ranking.  Jesus says they, and we, are to show a different way of life modeled on the Kingdom of God and shown in the life of Christ.

Jesus shows us a life of service, expects us to follow that way of being servants to others, and shows how the salvation lifestyle is tied up in the redemptive life connecting the present and the future.  Sometimes in our thinking and our living we forget that "now" has eternal connection to "later." 

Holiness and sanctification are treasured old Methodist ideas that still seek our experimentation today. Such thoughts aren’t intended to guide us into a holier than thou self righteousness, but instead lead us into an abundant fullness of life that is found in Christ. This gift of God- that grace that comes through Christ and which saves us- is not taken for granted. It’s more like the gift that so transforms, renews, inspires, and re-creates us that we can’t help but be a gift giver ourselves!

Yet, like a child on Christmas Day, it’s oh so easy for us to get hung up on a narcissistic reveling in our own gift. We can get so absorbed in our own world that we don’t see beyond our own fulfillment. The temptation is that we abuse the gift of God and use such blessing for our own gain, our own fame, our own fulfillment (read Matthew 4:1-11 if you aren’t aware of this danger).

The Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the lamb of God shows us another way of life that exhibits the power of God through a compassion and humility and servanthood that we are to take on for our own lives. This model of life is consistent throughout the Gospels and in Paul’s writings. The hymn fragment in Philippians 2:1-11 recalls the power of such service and such obedience and reminds us of our calling to imitate the Son of God in our own lives.

Ask yourself: What is my obligation to the orphan, the widow, the prisoner? What is my responsibility to the poor? How might I be a humble servant to those who are so different than me? How might I become part of the solution to the problems of our neighborhood and community?

Pray for the North Georgia Housing and Homeless Council. This agency of the North GA UMC was created to help churches and other non-profit organizations in ministering to very poor and homeless persons.

Learn more: Housing and Homeless Council

Meet one of our presenters:  Kim Torres

Register for the TOC at http://trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=576.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Can We Do in the Mission of God?

A Bible passage that first got my attention, when I wasn't a church-goer I might add, is found in Revleation 3:15-22.  Back then I took some small pleasure in these verses when I applied them to others.  What a challenge though as I applied the expectation to myself!

My personal story is that of growing up outside of the Church. I did not read the Bible, or pray, or attend church, or think anything about a Christian way of life. While in my late teens, and attending college, I found myself struggling with the meaning of life, my purpose here, and if there was a God. I did not have any background in religion of any type, but knew I needed something more than what I had. This went on for a year, and during that time I eventually found a deepening of relationships with some friends who attended a nearby church. These folk weren’t clergy, and they had their strengths and weaknesses as we all do, but they made real what I had not experienced and couldn’t imagine. They were honest, real, “flesh and blood” people that loved God. They spent time with me, invited me to meals, and invested themselves in my life. They didn’t push me about church, though when they did eventually offer that invitation it was an easy next step. It was through the personal relationships that I eventually grew into a Christian and a church member.


In retrospect, I see more clearly how they had to go “out of their way” to spend time with me. They let go of their agenda, added another risky relationship in addition to all their current friendships, and adjusted their calendars and expectations in all sorts of ways to add me to their lives. They went out of the way to be friends with me. And it has forever changed my life.

There are children and teenagers and families in every neighborhood of Augusta, Columbia County, and North Augusta that are just like I was. They have no faith, lots of questions, and only need a little time and our friendship. What is required of us in mission? We are called to build relationships of reconciliation as we love God and love our neighbor.

Here's another Charles Wesley hymn  though you may not know this 1749 verse. 

“Forth in Thy Name, O Lord”

1. Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go, my daily labor to pursue; thee, only thee, resolved to know in all I think or speak or do.

2. The task thy wisdom hath assigned, O let me cheerfully fulfill; in all my works thy presence find, and prove thy good and perfect will.

3. For thee delightfully employ what e'er thy bounteous grace hath given; and run my course with even joy, and closely walk with thee to heaven.

Ask yourself: Who do I know among family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others in the community that God has placed in my life as part of my work in the Kingdom? Continue to be in prayer as you build relationships and work in God’s Kingdom.

Pray for Heritage Academy, an inner city Christian school, and the impact these efforts have in Olde Town and for the families and churches involved in this effort.

Learn more: Heritage Academy

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet the Preachers for the Mission Event

In November 2011, when I read an article that said The United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries and The Mission Society were on speaking terms I knew I had to put them to the test.  The article talked about the personal friendship between the two leaders which was leading to a working relationship and more open conversations between the two organizations.  So, I sent the executive officers of GBGM & TMS an e-mail and asked if they would be willing to join us in a church active in mission as we celebrate outreach.

And they said yes!

We have an exciting, perhaps historic (in the biggest sense of the word), annual mission event coming up February 2-3.  Dr. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of The United Methodists Church General Board of Global Ministries, and Rev. Dick McClain, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Mission Society, will be our featured preachers.  They will preach Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, February 3 at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia.  I'm not sure my congregation understands what a big deal this is, but we are finding United Methodists from throughout Georgia and South Carolina who will be joining us as we celebrate missions and focus on a theme of "Building Bridges" .

Dr. Thomas Kemper is the top executive of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). From 1986-1994, he served as a missionary in Brazil before returning to his native Germany to lead ecumenical learning at the Lippische Landeskirche, a regional church of the Association of Protestant Churches. From 1998-2010 he served as mission leader for the United Methodist German Central Conference. Prior to his current role as General Secretary Kemper was a member of the GBGM Board of Directors. The GBGM connects the 13 million member United Methodist Church in mission in 136 countries.  There are currently 324 GBGM missionaries serving around the world with almost 50% of current missionaries coming from countries outside the United States.  Kemper is married to Barbara H├╝fner-Kemper and the father of three children: Ana, 20, Lena, 19, and Joshua, 15. Thomas enjoys preaching and is becoming known here at GBGM for his good sense of humor.  We are honored to welcome Dr. Kemper to Augusta and to our congregation.

Rev. Dick McClain is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mission Society. Rev. McClain took on that role in September 2009 after many years with the organization.  The longest-tenured member of the staff, Dick came to The Mission Society as its first director of missionary personnel in 1986 and has served in many capacities since then.  Today The Mission Society has over 200 missionaries who serve in 35 countries, as well as collaborative efforts with numerous churches and Christian organizations around the world.  The son and grandson of missionaries, Dick was born in China and grew up in India and Hong Kong.  An ordained United Methodist minister, he served pastorates in West Michigan for 11 years.  Dick married his college sweetheart, Pam, and the couple has three married children: Josh (and Amita), Heather McClain Wilson (and Steve), and Joey (and Ashley).  They also have five grandchildren (Ian, Tyler, Matthew, Eden, and William).  Rev. McClain has preached at Trinity on the Hill on other occasions and we are pleased to welcome him back to Augusta.


We are in for a treat as these international mission leaders lead our conversations February 2-3.  Don't get left out of this historic meeting and the celebration of Good News that will be taking place in Augusta!

How Are We in Mission?

Read John 20:19-23.


As the Church we are to be the Body of Christ. During the Great Thanksgiving, in our communion liturgy, we often proclaim of the elements: “Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly Banquet.”

So, we- as a Church and as individuals- are to take up the model of the life of Christ in our everyday life as we seek to love God and love all humanity. This allows the mission of God to pervade every area of our life, to inform our every decision and action, to become our value system and way of life. “Mission is no longer thought of as the Chruch’s activity overseas or in another culture. The mission frontier is not primarily a geographic one, but one of belief, conviction, and commitment” “Faithful Witnesses”, p. 30.

Karl Muller points to “5 elements of a missional theology:

1) being based upon a Trinitarian understanding of the nature of God

2) concerning itself with God’s salvation

3) from within a faith community

4) while moving into the whole world

5) among those who have not heard nor heeded the Gospel.”

See Faithful Witnesses, by John Edward Nuessle, page 48, for more information.

We are not alone in this calling or this task. The disciples had each other, and we have each other in the church. Yet the high and holy call remains so that we can not merely be content with those who are already in the room, in the church building, in the family.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”

Ask yourself: How am I being sent by Christ to share the Gospel? Who can Christ send me to in my every day life? Is there a neighbor or someone Christ desires to send me to?

Pray for Kirk and Nicole Sims and their sons as Kirk completes PhD studies related to west African missions and as Nicole serves as pastor at Hamburg International United Methodist Church (Germany).

Learn more: Sims


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Responsibility in Mission

Read John 1:14.

At its best mission might be a work of mercy, but not of pity. Mission is not meant to be a hand out from upper class to lower class. It is certainly not to be a demeaning act that cultivates an unnecessary dependency similar to a toxic charity. Rather, this is a way of life that, in both word and deed, seeks to love God and love neighbor with our whole heart, mind, and life.

Nor is mission just a calling of a select few in the church who have the time, talent, or disposition. Instead, missional living is a way of following the incarnational model of Christ which emphasizes a life following God the Father and dependent upon the Spirit. Such a life expresses habits of worship, prayer, study, fellowship, evangelism, and mission as reflections of the glory of God made known in practical ways today.

Darrell Gruder says:

“We have come to see that mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal creation. Mission means ‘sending,’ and it is the central biblical theme describing the purposes of God’s action in human history. God’s mission began with the calling of Israel to receive God’s blessings in order to be a blessing to the nations. God’s mission unfolded in the history of God’s people across the centuries recorded in Scripture, and it reached its revelatory climax in the incarnation of God’s work of salvation in Jesus ministering, crucified, and resurrected… It continues today in the worldwide witness of churches in every culture to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Quoted in The Forgotten Ways, by Alan Hirsch, pl. 129.

"This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls on the earth!" — Keith Green, Christian musician of the 1970's-early 80's.

Charles Wesley often penned the words of Methodist theology in ways that had power for worship and discipleship.  He wrote “A Charge to Keep I Have” in 1762 with basis in Leviticus 8:35.

1.  A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify, a never-dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.

2.  To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill; O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will!

Ask yourself: How have I misunderstood mission in the past? Do I need to further develop my understanding or gifts to be more effective for God? How can I practically reach our community and world, with the gifts God has given me, as God sends me to work?

Pray for those who are served and those who serve at GAP Ministries. This was previously a Presbyterian effort, but it’s now become an ecumenical effort to meet needs, express compassion, and create community in our Augusta inner city.

Learn more: GAP

Don't miss out!  Claim your place in the work day or in a mission seminar at  http://trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=576

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Present Salvation

Read Luke 4:18-19


One of the first sermons that John Wesley preached out “in the field,” as opposed to in the church, was from this passage. Though initially skeptical of the approach, Wesley soon realized the opportunity and benefits of sharing the Gospel beyond the walls of the church where everyday people might come into contact with the present salvation of God. The Kingdom of God and the Spirit of the Lord has freeing, Good News impact for every day people that is far beyond our wildest dreams of grace.

Have you ever wondered what it means, in appearance and action, to be a “church in the field?” Often on international mission trips our teams experience the work of the church in the sanctuary and out in the streets. It is often liberating in a culture foreign to us, usually with a different language and customs, for us to see how God is at work and how our work in the church and community has an impact. It takes a lot of teamwork and self denial. It takes consistent focus on God. It demands a flexibility and adaptation because so many people are involved, God is doing so much more than we imagine, and change, innovation, and transformation are the norm. We often talk about why we don’t live this way everyday back home.

As we follow Christ today we will find many opportunities to work in the Kingdom and to help others experience the salvation of God.

Ask yourself: What would it mean for our church to break down the walls of separation between us and our community by initiating ministry in the city and neighborhoods? Who would we reach out to? Who is God calling us to reach out to?

Pray for Rhonda Jackson and Destino del Reino. Destino is located just north of Siguatepeque, Honduras and offers a comprehensive ministry including a home for children, a school for kindergarten through 8th grade, and related ministries.

Learn more: Destino del Reino.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Life of Holiness

Read Malachi 3:7.

In 1746, John Wesley based his sermon, “The Means of Grace,” on this passage about the ordinances of God. He taught that such ordinances were not intended to create cold, lifeless religion, but instead, had inward and outward impact upon a soul renewed in the image of God. The ultimate aim is “love out of a pure heart with faith unfeigned.”

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed that the "means of grace," included both "works of piety" and "works of mercy." He preached that Christians must do both works of piety and works of mercy in order to move on toward Christian perfection. Note that this isn’t a justification built on work, but a way of following the life of Christ which takes seriously that “faith without works is dead.” Works of piety include prayer, “searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and receiving the Lord's Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him.”

“Wesley taught that people must be Christians in both word and deed, which were to express the love of God. He believed that Christians must grow in God's grace, which first prepares us for belief, then accepts us when we respond to God in faith, and sustains us as we do good works and participate in God's mission. John Wesley not only preached about works of mercy, he "practiced" what he preached. Wesley:

• lived modestly and gave all he could to help people who were poor

• visited people in prison and provided spiritual guidance, food, and clothing to them

• spoke out against slavery and forbade it in Methodism

• founded schools at the Foundery in London, Bristol, and Newcastle

• published books, pamphlets, and magazines for the education and spiritual edification of people

• taught and wrote about good health practices and even dispensed medicine from his chapels

Wesley believed that Christians could not have authentic personal holiness without social holiness.” (I found this at Wesley on mission. To learn more read Part II of the Book of Discipline or read John Wesley’s sermons or a history on the founder of Methodism.)

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" — David Livingstone, 19th Century medical missionary in Africa

Ask yourself: How should I grow in piety and mercy this year as I grow in following Christ? What practical steps might I take to establish habits of mercy?

Pray for the Choctaw Methodist Mission in Philadelphia, MS and General Board of Global Ministries church and community development workers Robin and Steve Claris.

Learn more: Choctaw Methodists

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Call of Mission and Outreach

Read Luke 14: 15-24

There is an energy and excitement in the life of the church on the mission frontier which isn’t easily explained and is best understood by personal experience. You can hear the story told by another, or read an exciting account of mission and ministry, or read it in the history of the Church. But, similar to the biblical stories of faith, there is a vast difference between a conversation about God at work and our own personal experience of God at work.

Occasionally a community of faith will find a renewal and new vitality as they respond to God’s call and the needs of the community. Surprisingly, such a church might attempt what seems impossible.

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing from the crucible of a Nazi prison, stated that, ‘The church is the church only when it exists for others.’” (Faithful Witnesses, page 67)

Once upon a time the call to be a missionary was a call to distant land. While that is still a huge need (do you know about the 10/40 Window or the numbers of people groups that have never heard the Gospel once?) there are more and more people in secular society who pass by the churches which have become quaint museums, yet which have little standing or voice in a community. The great need is for us to see the Kingdom of God at work in our own community, and for us to respond to our work in the emerging kingdom. Whether we are laity or clergy the call to mission, to evangelism, and to outreach still rings out as a great need for our community and for our church. The call to actively build bridges of reconciliation with God and between people stills bids us to accept the challenge, the risk, and the reward.

"In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been" — Robert Moffat, 19th Century missionary who inspired David Livingstone.

Ask yourself: As you drive our city streets what do you see? What neighborhoods and homes do you see in our community that are mission frontiers requiring a worker of God to help? Who are the messengers of God for our town?

D. T. Niles, Sri Lankan Methodist minister, district evangelist, and hymn writer, lived 1908-1970. “Christianity is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

Pray for the New Bethlehem Community Center. This partnership goes back many, many years, and has focus in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Augusta. Pray for Sheridan Glaze and their part time staff as they face mounting community challenges and significant needs for assistance.  This historic mission is 100 years old and is the first Bethlehem Center established by Methodist women which then expanded to communities across the south. 

Learn more: NBCC

Be sure to register for the Jan. 26 work day or the Feb. 2 mission seminars so you'll be better equipped to serve effectively in outreach.  Everything you need can be found at http://trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=576.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Augusta GA Mission Event to Start the Year


The Trinity Outreach Celebration is almost here.  It's always interesting to see if others will get as excited, and involved, in an event as you hope, plan, and pray for.  I'd call this year's annual mission experience a "once in a decade" opportunity as we bring in national mission leaders, have seminars on a range of topics, and offer "hands on" mission service for all ages.  
 
Read the theme verses of our Trinity Outreach Celebration 2013 in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20. Through the TOC we’ll be learning more about what it means to be an ambassador for Christ and how we can best share the message of reconciliation in word and deed.  Please share this with others and encourage attendance as we join together in mission.  We’ll have other United Methodists from throughout GA & SC joining us, so be sure to sign up early to reserve your seat as many of the activities have limited seating available.  Pray for what will happen in us and through us as we continue to follow Christ in mission locally, nationally, and internationally through 2013 and 2014.  All of the information below, plus registration, is available online at www.trinityonthehill.net or by calling the church mission office at 706-738-8822 ext. 50. 

Serving in Mission
Saturday, January 26, 9:00 AM-12 Noon.  Sign up online or in the Gathering Area.  Meet at Wesley Hall & depart for worksites by 8:30 AM.

Mission Seminars
Saturday, February 2, 9:00 AM-3:00 PM Workshops

This event is facilitated by national mission leaders and allowing United Methodists from through Georgia and South Carolina an opportunity to learn and network for more effective mission!

Choose one morning session 10:15-11:45 and one afternoon session 1:00-2:30 from:

“Children’s Ministry & Mission,” Mrs.  Kim Torres, GBGM Church & Community Worker

“Christ and Culture in Africa,”   Rev. Mande Muyombo, GBGM

“Congregational Mission Bridges to the World,” Rev. Mike Selleck, NGUMC

“50/50 Mission Partnerships: Asset-Based, Long Term Development,” Rev. Patrick Friday, GBGM

“Evangelism & Mission,” Dr. Winston Worrell, World Methodist Evangelism Institute

Morning session:  Mission as Bridge of Church and Community,” & Afternoon Session:  “Building Bridges to Youth & Young Adults in Your Community,” Rev. Jasmine Smothers, NGUMC

“Mission Leader Training: 5 Ps of Missions Done Well in the Local Church,” Mr. Stan Self, The Mission Society

“Missionaries for the 21st Century,” Dr. Thomas Kemper, GBGM

“Reaching ‘All Nations’ in Your Community:  Multicultural Ministry,” Rev. Nora Martinez, GBGM

“Muslims, Christians, and Jesus,” Rev. Dick McClain, The Mission Society

“Singing God’s Song:  From Everywhere to Everywhere,” Rev. Debra Tyree, GBGM Global Praise

Feb. 2 Schedule:

8:30-9:00AM -Check In at Gathering Area (directly behind sanctuary).
9:00-10:00 AM –Opening Assembly and Worship in the Sanctuary featuring Rev. Dick McClain & Dr. Thomas Kemper
10:00-10:15 AM- Break & Find Your Class
10:15– 11:45 AM- Morning Workshops in Building A
12:00-12:45 PM- Lunch at Wesley Hall
1:00- 2:30 PM Afternoon Workshops in Building A
2:30-3:00 PM Enjoy conversations with experts, networking with others, or visiting the displays

Register at www.trinityonthehill.net @ “Trinity Outreach Celebration”

Celebrating God’s Call to Mission
Sunday, February 3, 8:30 AM-12 Noon
Enjoy mission updates in Sunday School.  In worship we will be inspired & pledge our prayers, participation, & funds for the next year of outreach.

TOC Sunday School Classes, Feb 3, 9:45-10:40AM

General Board of Global Ministries in Adult Couples & Singles Class— featuring Thomas Kemper, Nora Martinez, Patrick Friday, Mande Mayumbo

Mission Society in Open Door class— featuring Dick McClain & Stan Self

North Georgia United Methodist Church- in Chapel— featuring Mike Selleck & Jasmine Smothers

World Methodist Evangelism in Choir Room– featuring Winston Worrell

We'll be celebrating all aspects of mission during these exciting days and hope you will be part of the fun!

Building Bridges

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

Another way folk get drawn into mission and working for God is to look around a community and world at everything that isn’t working as we know it should. Many of the chapters of Genesis show the power and consequences of sin. Humanity is tossed out of the Garden of Eden due to our sin- our striving to be like God, our weakness in the face of any temptation, our perpetual hunger and inclination to rationalize anything and everything we do. In our sin we break covenant with God and with one another. And don’t be mistaken, this isn’t sin on a “graded curve” as we tend to think of it, i.e. “I’m not as bad as my neighbor.” Rather, our willfulness, our disobedience, our selfishness, our lack of repentance, all form the basis for every sin which separates us from God and from humanity.

As life moves forward, and the story of Genesis (which really is our story) progresses, we see that sin is added to sin until the most outrageous acts seem ordinary and barely newsworthy. Our separation from God and from neighbor is compounded, it’s multiplied, as collectively we would rather erect fortresses and barricades rather than engage in efforts and lifestyles that are reconciling and building bridges. One is a way of alienation and the other a way of restoration and harmony. One is a chaos of broken relationship/s and the other a way of new birth and new creations.

Focus on our community and think about the state of our lives, our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods from a spiritual perspective. Now, beware being judgmental, because we are brothers and sisters and all prone to sin, but consider the spiritual root of the ills of our lives and our society. Galatians 5:19-21 reminds us of the power of sin and what occurs when sin runs rampant in a person or in a neighborhood. The aim of an abundant life, a shalom life, a life relying on the grace of God, following the way of Christ, and seeking sanctification is shown in Galatians 5:22-26.

God is “building bridges” to us and through us. Ask yourself: What does this mean in our lives? What does this mean for our church? What does this mean for our community? How might we practically serve Christ as a witness locally, nationally, or internationally? How might we take steps toward an incarnational, missional lifestyle this year?

As we prepare for TOC 2013 pray for The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Volunteers in Missions (UMVIM), and the related denominational missional organizations that we make possible by our shared apportionments. The “connectional” nature of the UMC has local, national, and global implications. Many of the leaders in our TOC are representative of the faithful apportionment giving of UMC churches, and now serve all over the world to continue the “circuit rider” spirit of Methodism in the 21st Century.

Pray for John & Donna Bearden who are UMVIM missionaries serving in the Dominican Republic. They are from Waynesboro, and after working 20 years locally they retired and moved to the place they’d served so faithfully on mission teams over many years.

Learn more: Enjoy the Bearden’s website or you can find them on Facebook. Here’s a quick view of apportionment giving.  You may also find the larger perspective of our global United Methodist denomination or our mission agency useful.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Apostolic Calling

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:10. 

Jesus shares a prayer, and shows a way of life, that expresses the rule and reign of God in the present. This isn’t human business as usual, but instead makes visible in practical ways what a life following God looks like. We are still called to this today, and are called to give ourselves to this work of God.

Missio Dei, the Mission of God, is a strong call from Scripture and the historic Christian faith to the primary focus of the Christian and the Church. It is a doctrine that emphasizes the nature of God, the purposes of God, and our role in the redemption of God today. Our work in God’s kingdom, and our living out the call to follow Christ every day, has tremendous implications for the spiritual health of each of us, and for the health and vitality of our church. It is easy to lose our thinking and focus on this basic foundation of faith.

We don’t often use that long creed, the Nicene Creed, in worship though it’s another reminder of our true calling. It is usually awkward to say in worship due to its length and to our lack of familiarity with it. After the confessions about our belief related to Christ and the Spirit the faithful congregation says, “We believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church.” That’s always been a strong reminder to me of what I read in Scripture as to how the work of mission and ministry was said and done in the past, and of our responsibilities today to share in the redemptive work of God as this present salvation continues to be at work and needs workers such as us.

There are a lot of worthy organizations, excellent non-profits, and wonderful missions and ministries competing for your time, attention, and funds. But there is something very different about working together with members of your church in shared partnerships, goals, and projects. This exciting intangible relates to the work of God in Christ and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen it repeatedly through Trinity outreach efforts on international mission teams, in local efforts ranging from feeding people at the Masters Table to working with Family Promise families to working a project in the community. We’ve seen it through the work of the FROGS. And Lydia Project. And we’ve seen it on the national disaster response teams. There are new depths of relationship with God and with each other as we serve together in mission. There is an experiential learning as we follow Christ in practical ways today. There is challenge and growth as we submit ourselves to God, to each other, and to those we serve as we become part of a team and aren’t free to merely do our “own thing.”

Missio Dei reminds us that the mission is God’s and not ours! As we follow the model of Christ we (both the Church and the Christian) become the instrument of mission. We go into all the world and become an incarnational bridge between the individuals, families, tribes, and nations we encounter and the family of faith, i.e. the church, as we express the Missio Dei in word and deed.

Ask yourself: How will I express a Kingdom of God lifestyle this year? How can I best live out the Greatest Commandment (recall Matthew 22:34-40) to love God and to love neighbor?

Pray for Beatrice & Esaho Kipuke serving in west Africa in Togo. They serve in a 3rd world country, a developing nation, in a setting without many necessities and without a “safety net” of any sort, with few resources, yet with tremendous opportunities and many open doors to serve Christ and share the Gospel.

Learn more about the Kipukes: Listen to the podcast at podcast, or go to their newsletter.

If you want to know more about a United Methodist Christian theology and practice of mission see Faithful Witnesses: United Methodist Theology of Mission is a great resource. It has served as a solid launching pad for many of these TOC 2013 devotions. Scott has a marked up copy you can borrow if you want to know more about Missio Dei and our distinctive Wesleyan view of mission and outreach.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mission Event Devotions

It's that time of year when my church, Trinity on the Hill UMC in Augusta, GA, experiences our mission event.  Sometimes such efforts can lack the study, prayer, theology, and "underpinnings" that connect with the whole of the Christian's life or the Church's life.  Perhaps these brief daily devotions will help you prepare for mission in your church and community. 

We'll follow a Scripture, meditation, and prayer approach leading up to our Trinity Outreach Celebration culminating on Sunday, February 3.  I'll "tip the hat" to where some of these ideas are found, if you want to learn more, and encourage you to use this as a springboard into the life of following Christ.  Along the way we will celebrate what God has accomplished through us, and what God might be needing of us in the coming year.  We'll hear from some of the "saints of the ages" and also lift up some of our Trinity partners each day, plus give a link if you desire more information on any of them.  As always, if you have a question, or curiosity, or an idea be sure to contact me.  After all, this work with God is a living, dynamic, ongoing relationship and conversation that creates new realities with God and between us.   

Let's start today by reading Genesis 12:2-3.


For a long time people who followed God have been sent on incredible adventures. If you look over the Old Testament you’ll find it is a consistent pattern shared time and time again- Noah, Abraham, Jonah, the prophets, and others- show us that God’s ways are very, very different than our ways. If we follow God in our time and place then we are going to be a peculiar people. Jesus picks up on that long tradition of being sent as a missionary.

Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of man, was sent with a purpose. As followers of Christ, we too are sent with a purpose. That’s why you’ll sometimes read a devotional or hear a preacher speak of church folk and Christians as being a “sent people.” John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (I was reminded of this again as I read the book The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay which Scott will loan you if you want to dig into this more.)

Of course, we easily get stuck in our habits, our routines, our neighborhoods, our lives. The Scripture repeatedly says “Go” and “Do” while human nature steers us toward comfort and routine. As in days long ago, Jesus confronts us with the claims of God’s kingdom as opposed to our small kingdoms. God reminds us to follow the way of true belief and let go of our idols. The Holy Spirit reminds us our dull, lifeless religion isn’t as practical, as incarnational, as transformational (for ourselves or others) as it needs to be for us to know an abundance of life today, much less tomorrow.

It’s a new day! God’s spirit calls out to us. Will God’s people of all ages yet again dream dreams and see visions begging to become reality in God’s kingdom?

Ask yourself: What great mission adventure is God calling me to in 2013?

"God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him" — Hudson Taylor, 19th Century British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and founder of the China Inland Mission

Pray for Action Ministries of Augusta, formerly Augusta Urban Ministries, as they focus on local needs of families and individuals related to hunger, housing, and education. This is both a local and North Georgia conference partner.  If you want to know more: Action Ministries of Augusta.

Pray for the Trinity Outreach Celebration and be sure to register for a mission project Saturday, January 26 or a mission class or two on Saturday, February 2.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Catching Up

Hello old friend!  I'm sorry to have been away for some time now.  I promise to do better this new year.  Sometimes life gets so busy there is little time to write down what I hear or see.  Church work, mission trips, family, gardening, and the activities of the days seem to crowd the schedule and my ability to get to everything.  I'll get more active here and share some updates on mission and ministry. 

Blessings as you live your adventure for God in these days,
Scott