Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:19 PM

Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:19 PM
Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:19 PM

It’s about 3 months before the season of Advent. It is a time we usually fill with a variety of types of sermons, throwing in an All Saints Day Celebration and of course a Thanksgiving one. But I was thinking, what if we as a church took this time to really meditate on Romans 12. What if we really let it sink in and transform us into the disciples that Jesus intended us to be. This passage talks about a living sacrifice, moves to service in the body of Christ, and moves on to what love in action looks like. It’s a great chapter. “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.” “Practice Hospitality.” “Live in harmony with each other.” “Overcome evil with good.” And maybe the best one, “Let love be sincere.”

Wow! How good are you at “faking” that you really care about someone? Michelle Warren says, “Loving sincerely is not for believers of small faith.” I believe that in our denomination we have become good at faking sincere love.

I will use a passage from Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus to illustrate my point. Nouwen suggests that Church leaders have become “persons with well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time.” He suggests like Jesus does {John 15} that leaders need to be “people whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.” He says a whole lot of good stuff and then concludes: “Dealing with burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinions about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.”

Nouwen tells us that Jesus asks, “Do you love me? Feed, tend my lambs.” If we sincerely love Jesus and sincerely love others, we can do nothing but offer healing, reconciliation, new life and hope wherever we go. And folks can either receive it or reject it, but that is another newsletter article.

Geaux Tigers, Barry

Thursday, September 5, 2019 4:01 PM

Taking Care…

Thursday, September 5, 2019 4:01 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2019 4:01 PM

“Taking care” of a loved one who is ill can tax more than your schedule and finances. The stress of a caring commitment can harm your health. Nearly one-third of American adults are primary providers for aging or unwell family members. Many are at risk for caregiver burnout or exhaustion. Anxiety and depression can result from overwhelming emotions and responsibilities.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself …
Are you …
skipping your doctor’s
feeling tired or losing sleep?
feeling anxious or depressed?
noticing changes in appetite?
feeling numb or resentful?
abandoning hobbies?

It is a must for caregivers to eat healthily, exercise and find time for personal care. “To be an effective caregiver, you have to take care of yourself, too!” Even while facing total adversity, life can become richer and more meaningful. Upon recognizing changes in the lives of loved ones, stop and evaluate where you are and assess what you are capable of.

Do your best to find relief by scheduling personal time to recharge. Place daily prayer and meditation first on your list. Let go of perfection and do the very best you can!

–– Linda

Thursday, August 22, 2019 3:21 PM


Thursday, August 22, 2019 3:21 PM
Thursday, August 22, 2019 3:21 PM

A few weeks ago we relaunched Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) here at First-Centenary, under the leadership of Matt and Tiffany Phillips and with the help of countless others in the congregation. If you served in any way, from bringing food to setting up or tearing down to staying with the families over night, thank you so much for making a difference in ending homelessness for families with children.

It was neat to see the number of families who volunteered early in the week but continued to come back because their children built relationships with the children in the program. I heard stories from parents of kids crying because they didn’t want to go home. They wanted to stay at church!

We live in a world that is ripe with fear of the other. Because we don’t know someone, or don’t understand their life scenario or background we immediately allow walls to divide us. In my Sunday School class we are doing a book study that addresses fear, entitled Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times. The author, Rev. Adam Hamilton, reminds us “The failure to get to know our neighbors, and the shirking of our responsibility to love them, means that we will continue to live with fear. But love perfected by actions has the power to drive out fear.”
Loving others is one of the simplest yet most difficult actions that human beings have to choose – but the good news is that the gift of love has been perfectly modeled for us in and through Jesus Christ. My prayer for each of us this week is that our love would be perfected by action and be a source of hope and light in this world.

In Christ, Will

Thursday, August 8, 2019 2:52 PM

Work as Worship

Thursday, August 8, 2019 2:52 PM
Thursday, August 8, 2019 2:52 PM

Recently First-Centenary, The Scenic City Women’s Network, and the Chattanooga Institute for Faith and Work hosted a video broadcast of a live event from Dallas, Texas called, “Work As Worship.” Those are three words we do not often hear in that order. Our context of the word “work” should be both that which is financially paid as well as unpaid. Most people reading this will spend (or have spent) half of their lives engaged in work.

For some, work is something that has to be done to pay for the things they need and beyond that, the things they want. For many, work is self-satisfying, self-fulfilling and for the most part enjoyable. But work as worship?

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, we began a lifetime journey to serve as a whole life disciple. We are called to serve Christ through all of our roles in life, especially the one where we spend most of our waking hours. God gave each of us talent and passion to be used in work. Your work matters to God because the people with whom you work with matter to God.

When we do our work with excellence, integrity and diligence we are living out, avodah...the Hebrew word that, depending on its use, means service, or work, or worship. For us the world is not divided into compartments of sacred and secular. Regardless, if we love our work or just tolerate it, the focus is not on ourselves but on serving and glorifying God. The Vine and Nave are not the only places where we worship. God created us to work and to worship – for us as resurrection people.
–– Clark

Thursday, July 25, 2019 3:26 PM

Thursday, July 25, 2019 3:26 PM
Thursday, July 25, 2019 3:26 PM

I was sitting on my back porch the other morning and I saw something that truly amazed and surprised me. I need to set the stage for you - our home backs up to the woods and there’s a small creek bed that runs along our property. You have to cross the creek bed to get to the woods.
Now back to the story.
I was sitting on the porch I noticed something rather large leap across the creek bed from the woods, grab a squirrel and retreat back into the woods. I was trying to figure out what I had just seen and through a process of elimination figured out it was not a house cat, rabid raccoon, small dog, grey fox nor an opossum on steroids. It was a Bobcat! (No, not the one stolen from Reflection Riding.) It was my own bobcat and it was only 30 feet away when it attacked. I went in to tell Judy and her response was; “Yeah right.” I told a neighbor, “I saw a Bobcat!” I think they imagined I had been on some medication. I called the TWRA and told them I saw a bobcat! There was silence on the other end of the phone and then the response was “Well, do not get close to it.”
(I was not planning on it.)

Often we see some strange things in this world. Often things so strange people find it hard to believe.

Then I thought of some of the strange things Jesus did. Many people found it hard to believe. It was strange to see the blind healed, the lame walking, the deaf able to hear and the dead raised to life. It was strange to see Jesus talking to women in public, hanging around tax collectors and welcoming children. It was strange to see Jesus at the transfiguration, resurrection, and ascension. There is the holy mysterious side of God that is still hard to understand and comprehend.
I thought about the disciples at Pentecost who had the Holy Spirit descend on them and they began to proclaim the glory of God in other languages. A strange sight for sure! I thought about a prominent doctor on a mission trip in Appalachia tearing out a rest room. I thought of the well-respected banker who taught first grade Sunday school class. I thought of the accountant who helped with the homeless ministry. Strange indeed to see God at work in our world! Stranger than a bobcat leaping from the woods!

Sometime this week, read Exodus 33:12-23. Moses found that GOD IS mysterious and often we can only see where God has been not where God is going. Strange indeed!

By the way, I saw the Bobcat again! Just sayin’.
Blessings on your day from the animal kingdom.

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