Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM

Who God Says You Are

Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM
Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM

I recently read an inspiring and challenging book by Dr. Klyne R. Snodgrass, one of last year’s Festival of Faith speakers, entitled, “Who God Says You Are: A Christian Understanding of Identity.” Struggling with the question of identity has been a part of human existence for all time. Who am I? Who does God want me to be? What does it mean if those two things are not the same?

Dr. Snodgrass says, “Knowing who we are is not something we acquire by ourselves. We know ourselves only by knowing our God. Knowing ourselves is less important than knowing who made us, calls us, goes with us, and knows us.” It is important to have an understanding of identity, of who you are and the only way that you can truly achieve that insight is in and through your relationship with your Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

“Look in the mirror and be conscious of being an individual before God, responsible to God, and energized for life by a God who cares for you, loves you, and calls you to participate in life with God.” No matter where you are on your journey through life and faith, know that you are loved, called, and cared for by the creator of the universe. May that love shape you and shine through you.
In Christ,

Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM

Living the Calling

Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM
Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM

In the three years Jesus spent with the disciples he taught them many things. Jesus taught them how to pray, how to interact with unkind people, how to view worldly possessions, how to live in community and how to commit to something beyond selfish desires or pursuits. He also taught them many other things about living a kingdom life.

What made Jesus’ teaching so effective, so life changing, and so transformative was that he lived out what He taught. It would be hard to follow or believe a person teaching scuba diving lessons who had never been scuba diving. Right? When Jesus called us to be servants of all, he was actually living that calling out in His own life.

I had a teacher that lived out her faith In the classroom. She was always kind, understanding, and encouraging. Her name was Mrs. Love. She was my ninth grade English teacher. I shared a bit about her story in a sermon last week. I have thought over the years that her name suited her well. Mrs. Love was one of the persons that knew what love really meant. Love for her was acts of kindness but also expectations of improvement. Love, for her, was offerings of grace but also clarity for growth. Love for her meant encouragement coupled with a call to something more than mediocrity.

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Mrs. Love. In that letter she informed me that she had had a stroke and is paralyzed from the waist down. This last year has been a tough year for her. But the primary reason she wrote me was to offer me encouragement.

I went to see her the other day. She was sitting in her wheelchair reading a book. We talked awhile and, I thought to myself, as she was talking about her adjustment to life after her stroke and her faith in God that she was was still teaching me about life . Even in her present condition, she offered the same gracious spirit, the same warm smile, and same loving witness I remember so long ago.

I am reminded of the words of Paul.  “So do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen for what can be seen is temporary but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

Who will we influence, impact, and inspire by our words and deeds today?...this week?

– Mark Gooden

Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM

Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM
Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM

In reading and hearing the proposed options for “The Way Forward” I was reminded of just how much our culture influences us. Even in our western hemisphere the complexities of cultural layers are in full sway. The way we see things can be greatly impacted by our upbringing and that often differs across boundaries within geographical, religious, socio-economic, racial, ethnic, educational backgrounds, to name a few…

In the book MISREADING SCRIPTURE WITH WESTERN EYES – REMOVING CULTURAL BLINDERS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien write “BECAUSE OF THE CULTURAL DISTANCE between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text.” These scholars talk about our personal “habits of the mind” that might blind us to the true message of the Bible.

If we are using our personal lens with a somewhat menu-driven approach to reading God’s Word, perhaps we might want to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. For us to rely upon our own assumptions about what is really going on in the text that we are reading is limited, and likely to be erroneous.

Instead, may God shape us to better understand cultural differences in language during our times of reading the Word and may the Spirit lead us to follow the examples of Christ in our contemporary setting.

– Dr. Linda I. McDaniel

Thursday, August 16, 2018 3:22 PM

Watching the spiritual lives of our children and youth grow.

Thursday, August 16, 2018 3:22 PM
Thursday, August 16, 2018 3:22 PM

Over the last three years I have loved watching the spiritual lives of our children and youth grow.

A few weeks ago I went up to Camp Lookout to serve communion to the staff as they were beginning the summer. One of our former youth and current college students was serving as a camp counselor and one of our current youth (an inner city student) was serving on the support staff team. What an amazing gift to see our young people serving the children of the Chattanooga area!

Over the last month I have had two children come up to me after worship and give me something that they wrote. One little boy gave me a prayer card that he wrote asking for prayers for people who have lost a loved one, are going through a divorce, or having a hard time. One little girl wrote me a letter saying that she figured out how to bring peace to the world: build churches and tell people about Jesus Christ!

First-Centenary, the Holy Spirit and the Love of God are on the move through our Children’s and Youth ministries. Thank you for enabling such powerful and transformational ministry. I know that God is not finished with us yet!

– Pastor Will

Thursday, August 2, 2018 3:13 PM

What do you really love to do?

Thursday, August 2, 2018 3:13 PM
Thursday, August 2, 2018 3:13 PM

Someone recently gave me a children’s book called “A Hat for Ivan”, abridged from the original version written by Max Lucado. On the back of the book there is a short summary that reads; “All the grown-ups in Ivan’s village wear hats that show what they love most. Because Ivan’s father is the hat-maker, Ivan gets to watch his father create a hat that is perfect for each person. Ivan wonders what kind of hat he will have.”

Because his father makes hats for everyone, Ivan would often say; “My hat day is coming!” Each boy and girl in Hatville would receive a hat at the age of ten. Ivan wonders if his father will make him a musician’s hat, a baker’s hat or maybe a firefighter’s hat.

As the story goes, several persons tried to provide their own suggestions of the hat Ivan should wear. The baker put his hat on Ivan but it was way too floppy and big. Ivan did not want to hurt the baker’s feelings so he took the hat and tried to wear it. The piano teacher and the fireman also gave him a hat to wear. Ivan could not wear these hats either. They weighed him down, they did not fit right and they caused him great frustration. Ivan goes home tired and wearily dragging the hats he had received behind him. Ivan was finding it hard to live up to everyone else’s expectations.

His father, the hat maker said: “I’m the hat maker, Ivan. I’ve seen what happens when people wear hats that weren’t made for them.” As Ivan gathered all the hats to take them back to their rightful owners, the hat maker said to Ivan: “Tell me Ivan, what do you really love to do?”

I wonder...just wonder if we too might need to be content with the hat {gifts} that the Lord offers to us to use for His glory. I have found what God calls us to is what gives us our greatest joy. However, when we try to live up to others expectations we find great sadness. If you’d like to reflect further on this, you might want to read: Ephesians 1: 15-19, I Corinthians 12: 1-31 and John 21: 15-25.

– Blessings, Mark

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