Featured

06/01/2016 Transitioning to a New Blogsite

image
I began blogging in August 2012.  At the time I was serving in the second month of my sixth year as the appointed pastor of Monroe United Methodist Church. It was already a time of spiritual renewal for me and of renewed spiritual vitality for the congregation, and the blogging was the result of both and also became a means for further renewal personally and for the congregation.

Forty-five months later, my journey with Monroe UMC is nearing an end.  I will be retiring the blogsite that I began in August 2012 because I chose to use “Monroe UMC” as part of the domain  name, and it will no longer be appropriate for me to connect with readers using that domain name since I will no longer be serving the congregation as pastor beginning on moving day on June 29th.  Although no new posts will be added to that blogsite after June 28th, readers may still access the blogsite after that date to view the hundreds of posts published since August 2012:  Monroe UMC Blogsite.

Josh Dalton will be serving as the congregation’s new pastor beginning on June 29, 2016.  I pray that the congregation will welcome, love and support him.

Today I am launching this new blogsite, and I will continue to blog on this site through the end of the transition and beyond.  If you wish to subscribe to receive future posts from this blogsite, you may do so at your own initiative.

I am grateful for the nine years that I have served as the pastor of Monroe UMC and look forward to God’s preferred future for me and for the congregation as we part on June 29th.

Grace Upon Grace,
George

Advertisements

10/22/2017 The Most Decisive Moment in History (Part 2)

Print
In yesterday’s post (10/21/2017 The Most Decisive Moment in History) I invited readers to share their opinion about what the most decisive moment in history was. Answers included the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in a garden tomb or Eve’s decision to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Today I would like to share my opinion about what was the most decisive moment in history. I suspect that few others would agree with me, but I think the most decisive moment took place in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the crucifixion. When Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want,” I think that was the most decisive moment. It was that moment that made his suffering, death and resurrection from the dead possible. In my opinion, Jesus’ submission while in the Garden just prior to his arrest settled what would happen afterwards. The events that transpired over the following days were simply a chain reaction. Jesus’ submission in the garden was the catalyst. The matter had already been decided by Jesus’ decision in the garden to submit to the will of the Father.

In a similar way, I suspect that many of the events that transpire in our lives are simply a chain reaction to our willingness to submit our will to God’s will. The suffering and death of Jesus were very public events, but they were the direct result of the private moments that Jesus spent in prayer. Some of the very public moments in our lives are the direct result of private moments that we spend in communion with God.

Question:
Can you think of decisive public moments in your life that were primarily shaped by private moments you spent in communion with God?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features 3 year-old Claire Ryann.
Gethsemane

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/21/2017 The Most Decisive Moment in History

Print
In the previous two blog posts (The Decisive Moment and Decisive Moments in the Life of Jesus) the focus has been on decisive moments.

I am sitting in a public library full of books, magazines, newspapers, and access to online information. It seems like a fitting place for me to pose today’s question on the topic of decisive moments.

Question:
In your opinion, what was the most decisive moment in history?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Derri Daugherty, Paul Colman, Dan Haseltine, Sara Groves and GlassByrd.
Jesus Went to the Garden

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/20/2017 Decisive Moments in the Life of Jesus

decisivemoments
In yesterday’s blog post (10/19/2017 The Decisive Moment) I quoted Mark Batterson’s description of a decisive moment, and I invited readers to share a recent decisive moment in their experience.  Decisive moments are a part of each of our lives.  Sometimes such moments come without advance notice.  Other decisive moments occur after we have had weeks or maybe even months of intentional preparation and discernment in advance.

Question:
As you think about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, what would you say were the 5 most important decisive moments for him?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features the London Philharmonic Choir.
Once to Every Man and Nation

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/19/2017 The Decisive Moment

decisivemoment
Once again this morning I gathered with others to discuss Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson.  Today we looked at Chapter 6 entitled “The Decisive Moment.”  Here is an excerpt in which Batterson explains this term.

“Photojournalists sometimes capture images so powerful,” said Nick Logan of Global News, “the public and policymakers can’t ignore what the pictures show.”  One picture has the power to prick the conscience.  It can start a riot or start a revolution.

Famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called it “the decisive moment.  He not only coined the phrase, but he also wrote a best-selling book by that title.  “To me,” he said, “photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”  If you are a split second early or a split second late, you miss the moment.  And it’s not to be left to luck.  To Cartier-Bresson, it was a learned skill requiring an eye for the occasion  “you must know with intuition when to click the camera,” he said.  “Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”  But if you capture it?  “A photograph [can] fix eternity in an instant.”

Later in the chapter, Batterson writes:

In his book Decisive Moments in History, author Stefan Zweig described “a single moment that determines and decides everything; a single Yes, a single No, a too early or a too late makes that hour irrevocable for a hundred generations and determines the life of an individual, a people, and even the destiny of all mankind.”

Question:
When was a recent decisive moment in your life?

Please reply to this question or offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Elvis Presley.
It’s Now or Never

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/18/2017 The Key to the Missionary’s Devotion

image
Here in its entirety is today’s reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

…they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7

Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, “Feed My sheep.” In effect, He said, “Identify yourself with My interests in other people,” not, “Identify Me with your interests in other people.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love— it is actually the love of God expressing itself. The true test of my love for Jesus is a very practical one, and all the rest is sentimental talk.

Faithfulness to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption that has been performed in me by the Holy Spirit— “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). And it is that love in me that effectively works through me and comes in contact with everyone I meet. I remain faithful to His name, even though the commonsense view of my life may seemingly deny that, and may appear to be declaring that He has no more power than the morning mist.

The key to the missionary’s devotion is that he is attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. External detachment is often an actual indication of a secret, growing, inner attachment to the things we stay away from externally.

The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:
1. Do you agree with the following statement?

In effect, He said, “Identify yourself with My interests in other people,” not, “Identify Me with your interests in other people.”

2. What do you think of the statement below?

The key to the missionary’s devotion is that he is attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself.

3. What difference would it make in our local congregations if the leadership fully embraced the following principle?

The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please post your responses to these questions and all other comments to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Matt Redman.
The Heart of Worship

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/17/2017 World’s Largest Gospel Choir

choirlogo

What is the largest gospel choir you have ever heard sing?

Many readers are familiar with choirs of 25 or less.  A few times you may have heard a choir of 100 or more.

How about a a choir of more than 8,000?!
choir
On October 12, 2015, a total of 8,688 participated in the largest gospel choir ever.

Question:
What is the largest gospel choir you have ever heard in person?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features the 8,688 member choir.
Ang Dating Daan Chorale

Grace Upon Grace,
George

10/16/2017 World’s Longest Sermon

guinesslongestsermon
What is the longest sermon you have ever heard?

It has been rare for me to hear any sermon that lasted as long as 45 minutes. Through the years, I have occasionally preached sermons that were more than 30 minutes in length but I don’t think that I have ever preached more than 45 minutes. (Although some sermons may have “seemed” longer than that to those who were there to hear it!)

One of the clergy members of The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church back in 2003 preached a sermon that began at 6 AM on a Friday morning and ended at 11:05 AM on Sunday morning, with 5 minute breaks allowed each hour.

I have also read that a Florida pastor, Zach Zender, preached for 53 hours, 18 minutes back in November 2014. It was a fundraiser for charity. That marathon is available to view on YouTube.
53hoursermon

Question:
How long was the longest sermon you have ever heard?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Don Francisco.
Got To Tell Somebody

Grace Upon Grace,
George