Foolishness or Faithfulness?

A Message for World Communion Sunday — Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Matthew 21:33-46 Are you a rule-follower? That’s something I never put into that language until one educator described one of his kids as that. Around 1988 I spent my summer on a short-term mission trip in the Philippines. Manila was my home-base. It was … Read more

God Has a Plan

In my new role as a district superintendent, I (Joleen) recently wrote this in an email to pastors in the Altoona District: Hear the words of the Lord from Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to … Read more

Stretch!

What do you do when you first get up in the morning? Stretch? What do you do when you get up from sitting a long time? Stretch? Stretching. We talk about stretching our body. We talk about stretching our mind. I wonder if we ever need to stretch our spirit. “Stretching our mind” refers to … Read more

10,000 Reasons to Give Thanks

Inspired by Psalm 103, worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman cowrote the song, “10,000 Reasons” with a Swedish friend, Jonas Myrin. In Psalm 103, David lists several reasons why his heart is full of worship for God. So, Redman and Myrin made a list of their own reasons and noted they were barely scratching the … Read more

A Makeover for Your Mind

Have you ever gotten a makeover? Makeovers aren’t just for your face and hair or even for your house. They are also for your mind! The dictionary definition of transform is … to make someone or something completely different, usually in a way that makes them more attractive, easier to use, etc. When I think … Read more

Returning From Retreat With Hope

On Monday evening at the Bishop’s Retreat, Randy led a time of prayer and reflection, looking at 1 Kings 19.1-9a. He asked “What are you running from?” and “What are you running to?” On Tuesday evening, I concluded our look at Elijah with 1 Kings 19.9b-15a, which begins with Elijah in a cave where he … Read more

Coming Soon: Bible Study at West Side

Next Thursday, September 13, the West Side UMC morning Bible study will begin a new study, “James: Putting Faith to Work.” Following our study time at the church at 10:00-11:00 a.m., I’ll post a summary and a question or two so that those who cannot be with us in person may connect with us and … Read more

Discipleship Wanes When Christianity is Popular

I’m reading Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Community by Elaine A. Heath and Scott T. Kisker. I was challenged by the authors’ description of discipleship when Christianity is popular. In its earliest days, Christianity was at times “illegal and semi-covert” until the conversion of Constantine in A.D. 312. Constantine made Christianity legal … Read more

Clear the Way!

This post is part of the Common English Bible Tour. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed … A voice is crying out: “Clear the LORD’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God! Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become … Read more

Comfort, Comfort!

This post is part of the current Common English Bible Tour. You can read Isaiah 40.1-11 in the CEB here. In Isaiah 40.1-11, Israel is in exile, a very dark place in their history. They doubted their status as God’s chosen people; they even doubted the sovereignty of God. This portion of scripture seeks to … Read more