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Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Tuesday, May 31 2016

How do you prepare for the day? When you wake up in the morning, what are some regular practices that are a part of your routine? Each day often brings its own set of blessings and challenges. Some mornings you may be filled with energy, in need of courage, wake up with anxiety, in need of self-control or in need of peace and calm.

I would invite you this week to take some time each morning to reflect and ask yourself: What significant things are happening in the day ahead? What do I need?

Take a moment to decide which one of these things might represent something that you need today from God and from others: Love, Grace, Peace, Joy, Kindness, Friendship, Patience, Mercy, Self-Control, Courage, Compassion, Honesty, Calmness, Energy.

Let this word sit with you for a moment, lift up your concerns to God in prayer and then take the word with you throughout the day. Then as you begin your day, consider these words from Lamentations:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Prayer for Today

Gracious God, Help us to remember that every day is a new day. Guide us as we seek to glorify you with our words and actions. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: Allison Shearouse AT 05:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 30 2016

A prayer for Memorial Day

Eternal God, from whom all life comes, 
to whom all life returns, 
we remember all who served our country in the military.
We remember and we give thanks.
We give thanks for sacrifices made and losses endured.
We give thanks for acts of courage, grace and hope.
We give thanks for our brothers and sisters 
who gave the full measure of devotion.
We give thanks for those we knew well and those we never met.
For the life, goodness, faith, courage, and love that was in each one, 
we give thanks. 
We pray for our brothers and sisters who are recovering from wounds 
in body, mind, spirit, or soul.
Work healing in them in all the forms that healing takes.
We pray for those who provide care to them.
Show us ways that we can extend care and support.
We pray for families and friends and all who grieve for loved ones 
who have died. 
Meet them in the valley of death's shadow. 
Embrace them in the healing warmth of 
your comfort, grace and love. 
Grant them and all of us the assurance 
that nothing in life or in death 
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, 
in whose name we pray. 
May the day soon come when swords are beaten into plowshares, war is studied no more, and all peoples and your world will know peace. 
May we work for that day. 
We pray through Jesus Christ. 
- Mark Koenig

Posted by: Rev. Neal Kuhlhorst AT 05:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 27 2016

Alicia Taylor

Reflections on a Life of Service
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  
-Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
This Memorial Day weekend we commemorate something that I think is sometimes hard for many of us to comprehend - the sacrifice of soldiers' lives for the sake of our freedom.
The United States is home to the "American dream," the land of the free, the land of opportunity.  We spend so much of our lives trying to gain, to acquire, to win.  I think part of our struggle to understand the fallen soldier comes with our difficulty in accepting sacrifice.  The soldier's sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down his life for us.  It's selfless love for others. 
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.  
-John 15:13 (NIV)
We call our soldiers "service men and women," yet that term should describe Christians as well.  Faith in Jesus Christ offers mercy and forgiveness from sin and freedom to be who God made us to be, but that freedom came with the price of the cross.  Our gift of freedom is to be used for service.  Freedom does not exist independently of sacrifice in the life of the believer.  Paradoxically, the person who chooses freely to serve others knows freedom unlike any other, for it is in the giving of ourselves that we truly come to know ourselves.
On Saturday, June 4, at 1:00 p.m. in our chapel, we will bear witness to the resurrection of the life of Captain Constance Joan Quigley Overby, a Christian sister who dedicated her entire life to the service of others.  Having served most of her life as a nurse in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Connie was always quick to remind everyone at this time of year that there are actually seven branches of uniformed commissioned officers.
Connie had a passion for serving underserved populations, especially attentive to the health and wellbeing of women and children.  For years, she taught prenatal classes to impoverished young mothers who could not afford adequate care for themselves and their unborn children.
Connie was an advocate for the prevention of illness, and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that children were receiving the health care they needed and deserved.  While serving at the Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, when pediatric patients didn't show up for scheduled appointments, Connie would seek them out in the community and go to their homes to immunize children and teach their parents about the importance of routine well visits.
Connie was an obedient servant of the church.  She loved God with her whole heart, mind, and soul, and she was a seemingly tireless saint in her work behind the scenes to serve others.  She loved the music of the church, singing in the choir and ringing handbells.  When her husband passed away in 2004, Connie donated our first two octaves of handbells to the glory of God and in memory of John.
Connie logged countless hours meeting with, listening to, and praying for many care receivers as a Stephen Minister.  She was a member of the worship ministry team for many years and was always quick to lend a hand for whatever needed to be accomplished - decorating the Pumpkin Patch, setting up Presbyterian Heritage displays for Kirkin' o' the Tartans, hauling Christmas trees, and preparing our chapel for Advent and Christmas.
In January 2015, Connie was ordained and installed as an elder in the church, appropriately serving on the Caring Ministry Team.  She was one of the most caring individuals this church has ever known, and she served others with a humble spirit, a ready smile, an infectious laugh, and much love for those for whom she was caring.

Prayer for Today

Creator God, we give thanks this day for all men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom.  We offer thanks for the gift of faith witnessed in the amazing life of our dear sister, Connie.  May her dedicated service be remembered as a witness to the light and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Posted by: Alicia Taylor AT 05:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 26 2016

Last night at precisely 9:19 p.m. in a muggy football stadium in the town of Snellville, over the loud speakers came, "Jackson Holbrook Huie." It was my son's shining moment as he walked across the stage, shook the principal's hand, and received his high school diploma.  On one side of the stage, he was a high school student; on the other, that school's alumnus.  Jackson hoisted his fist in the air and his family roared its approval, though his daddy admits to feeling somewhat bittersweet about it all. 

I realize that life is about crossing "stages." It makes me wonder, what is it about "the stage"?  On one side of the stage, you are a high school student; on the other side, a college student.  On one side of the stage you are single; on the other side, someone says, "Kiss the bride," and you are a husband or a wife.  On one side of the stage, you are married; on the other side, you receive a slip of paper that says you are divorced.  On one side of the stage you are unemployed; on the other side, you receive a handshake and a "congratulations" and you have a job and a paycheck.  On one side, you have no children, and then on the other side after "more than a handshake," you are declared a mom or a dad.  On one side of the stage, you don't know the love of Jesus Christ; on the other side, you experience the utter freedom and joy of his tender embrace.
I myself right now am crossing my own "stage," one making me feel as bittersweet as seeing my son graduate.  Today is my last actual day in the office here at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church.  The boxes are almost packed up, the pictures are taken down, and I've finished training Linda Benson as the "summer interim" until a new youth pastor is called. There is a big lump in my throat right now, knowing that I won't be going to Montreat or the Great Escape.  I won't be preaching or leading worship from this pulpit.  I won't be teaching youth Bible study or Confirmation Class, or taking the youth downtown to serve the homeless, or kayaking down some wild river with people I love. I am no longer one of your pastors.  Now we can learn to simply be friends.
How does one say good-bye when crossing a major stage of life?  How do I say good-bye after over five wonderful years of discipling our young people in the Christian faith in this church (and seventeen years previously)?  How do I say good-bye after running six Back-to-School Bashes, leading 117 youth through Confirmation, and taking well over 400 people on week-long summer retreat and mission experiences all over the world?  How do I say good-bye after preaching over 60 sermons from this pulpit and leading worship hundreds of times?  How do I say good-bye after countless meals at the Biscuit Barn, Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, and especially our own Friendship Hall with people I cherish?  How do I say good-bye to so many people I have stood with and prayed for through both good times and bad?  How do I say good-bye after helping to lead six Youth Sundays that brought the word of God alive and gave more proof that there is hope for the next generation?  How do I say good-bye when I feel so connected not only with our young people, but with all our church members?
Through the tears, I realize that I can say good-bye only one way-with gratitude, a huge dose of gratitude!  I will always remember Johns Creek Presbyterian Church and give thanks to God.
 Moving from one side of the "stage" to the other, we hoist our fist into the air to celebrate the promise and adventure of a life with God and one another!
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.  -Philippians 1:3-6

Prayer for Today

O God, thank you, thank you, thank you for Johns Creek Presbyterian Church.  Though we now go our separate ways, may our hearts be bound together in love forever.  Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Scott Huie AT 05:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 25 2016


One of the suggested lectionary readings from the Bible for today is Proverbs 17. These sayings contain wisdom for life. I invite you to read these over and choose one to guide how you live out today.
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
    than a house full of feasting, with strife.
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.
A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool-
    how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
    they think success will come at every turn.
Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
    than a fool bent on folly.
Evil will never leave the house
    of one who pays back evil for good.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Prayer for Today

God of all true wisdom, help us this day to discern what is true. May your truth guide our lives. Help us to gracefully and lovingly point others to the ultimate truth - Jesus the Christ. We pray this in his strong name. Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Dr. C. Gray Norsworthy AT 05:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 24 2016

Take a moment to look at your hands and feet. What do you notice? For many this is a time of year when we experience conclusions, wrapping things up, graduating, end of year ceremonies, recitals, and many more. As you may be closing a particular chapter at the end of this school year, think about all of the places that your hands and feet have gone.

Your hands and feet are a constant reminder of the journey you have taken this year. You have probably learned new things and seen new places. Your journey has often required courage and strength. Wherever you have been this year, God has been with you.

The places where you have traveled in your life, you have left an impression, a mark. The words of these Old Testament prophets give us some guidance about ways that we can leave an impression that reflects God.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
-Amos 5:24

He has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?
-Micah 6:8

Do others see the face of Christ in the impressions or marks that we leave behind? What can you do this week to leave an impression that reflects God's love, justice, kindness, and humility?

In July, we have the privilege of hosting Vacation Bible School to over 150 children this summer and we are always looking for adults willing to share God's love and teach the lessons of Christ during this amazing week. I would invite you to consider this opportunity to leave an impression from July 18 to July 21.

What will you do to leave an impression this summer?

Prayer for Today

God of Truth, Let our faith show in how we treat others. Let our worship reflect who we really are. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: Allison Shearouse AT 05:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 23 2016

Rev. Neal Kuhlhorst

When I was a boy I had a fascination with matches. Striking a match so that it would catch fire was a primitive form of mystery for me which included most of my senses; sight, sound, smell, and touch. Of course as I think about matches I can still hear the accompanying parental injunctions, "Be careful or you'll catch something on fire!"

Well we just entered into the liturgical season of Pentecost and believe it or not we are called to catch something on fire! I'm not talking about becoming careless pyromaniacs but rather being ignited with the passion of Christ to serve the gospel.

I came across William Blake's Pentecost poem and wanted to share it with you:

How will you catch fire this season of Pentecost? Will your heart catch fire for missions or perhaps will your heart catch fire to raise a joyful sound by joining the choir? Maybe you will catch fire to become a student of the Bible or maybe you'll catch fire and choose to become a Stephen Minister. 
I look forward to the time you come up to me and say, "Neal, I'm on fire for......" It's up to you to fill in the blank.

Prayer for Today

Pour your Spirit upon us, O Lord, so that we will catch fire for your gospel. Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Neal Kuhlhorst AT 09:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 20 2016

Alicia Taylor

Holy, Holy, Holy!  
Lord God Almighty!

"In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted ... seraphim stood above Him ... and one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.'" 
-Isaiah 6:1-3 NASB
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, celebrating God in the three persons of the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Trinity Sunday begins the ordinary season that will last until Advent, but because it is Trinity Sunday the liturgical color is white, rather than green.
The hymn most often sung by many Christians throughout the world on Trinity Sunday is "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty," written by Reginald Heber.  In 1823, Heber was sent to India to serve as Bishop of Calcutta.  While he was in India, Heber, an Oxford scholar, became the first person to create a hymnbook which organized hymns according to the liturgical calendar.  It was after he died in 1826 that this book was published.
"Holy, Holy, Holy," expressed Heber's grasp of the holiness of God and the importance of the Trinity.  His hymn was based on a study of Isaiah's vision in which he saw "the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted."  It was a life-changing picture of God's holiness for Heber.  Overwhelmed, he described how "early in the morning our song shall rise to thee."  
God was both "merciful and mighty."  Heber spoke of saints who adore God, "casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea," and "cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee."  God was eternal; he "was, and is, and evermore shall be."  Heber realized that no sinful man could see God's glory.  "Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee, perfect in power, in love, and purity."  He wrote that "all thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea."
Today and every day, allow the Spirit of God to fill your heart with wonder at his majesty.  Worship and adore God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer for Today

Triune Godhead, source of love and light, to thee we bring our joyous praise, to thee our King through boundless days! Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!  God in three persons, blessed Trinity!  Amen.

Posted by: Alicia Taylor AT 07:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 19 2016

With my moving to Nashville Memorial Day weekend after 22 years in the same community and five and a half years at the same church, this month has been one of last things.  I've had my last team tennis match after 22 years on the same team, my last bridge club after 13 years, and my last Atlanta professional sports event, which I have been attending my entire life.  I've made it through my last sermon, my last Session meeting, my last Presbytery meeting, my last Wednesday Night Senior High Bible Study, and my last Sunday Night Live where the youth "roasted" me in a night I will always cherish.  And...this morning I had my last Senior High/Lambert High Breakfast Club at Chick-fil-A.

What do you say to a group of students you've been discipling for many years for your last gathering?  I chose to share one of my favorite Bible passages from the book of Hebrews: 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.      -Hebrews 12:1-2
These words are posted in my office at home and are committed to memory as they encapsulate what being a disciple is all about.  Our spiritual journeys are not a wind sprint; they are a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul.  As we live our lives on earth, we are surrounded by the great saints of the church, now joined by Connie Overby, who have gone before us having run their race and are now in our "grandstand" cheering us on. 
In this race of faith, according to this fabulous passage, we are called very simply to do three things:  lay aside our sin, run with perseverance, and look to Jesus.  In other words, we get rid of whatever is holding us back from an intimate relationship with God, we give God our best and hang in there, and we always, always, always look to Jesus as our guide, our inspiration, our rock.  So....lay aside sin, run with perseverance, look to Jesus; lay aside sin, run with perseverance, look to Jesus.  May such practices become as ingrained in us as what we do when we shampoo: lather, rinse, repeat!

Good times together this morning at the last 
Senior High Breakfast Club of the year!

Prayer for Today

O God, help us to hang in there no matter what.  Give us courage and strength by your Holy Spirit to run our race of life faithfully until that day when we hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Scott Huie AT 06:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 18 2016

We had a great vacation visiting our daughter who has been studying in Vietnam, but it is also good to be back home. I still am trying to power through the brain fog from jet lag, so if this column doesn't make complete sense, I apologize in advance. Most of the time, when I go on vacation, especially when I go to a different country, I find the experience changes me. Sometimes it changes me a little in how I view the world, but sometimes it changes me a lot. Visiting Hawaii, Vietnam, and Hong Kong for the first time allowed me to see three very different parts of our world. Seeing another country where the form of government is different or where the people have another set of historical roots that has shaped them, invites me to see where I live in new ways. It changes me.

Even being gone only two weeks, I find things have also changed when I came home. We lost one of our church members and an elder, Connie Overby. Many of us are grieving her loss. Scott Huie preached his last sermon on Sunday, and Alicia Taylor shared with us that she is resigning to do something else with her life. Those are also losses. Others of us are battling illnesses or have loved ones who are facing the loss of health. Again, that loss represents more change.
While we cannot live in a world without change, we can hold on to the things that remain constant throughout all the changes in life. This Sunday I will begin a series of messages focused on the last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 that says this: "Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Faith, hope and love are three of the pillars we can hold on to when the changes of life feel overwhelming. Paul writes that these three "remain." In other words, they last forever. Today I invite you to hold on to the faith that is grounded in your relationship with God. This can give you the hope you need to go on because of God's love for you!  

Prayer for Today

Loving God, life brings us so many changes. Some are good, but some are difficult. Yet, through all the changes of life, you have promised never to leave us alone and to fill us with hope. Give us the faith we need to live this and every day. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Dr. C. Gray Norsworthy AT 06:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 17 2016

As I'm writing this reflection, it's raining outside my office. I would invite you to take a moment, in the midst of today's rain or if you are near the ocean, a lake or a river, to watch the water. Listen to the noise it makes as it rushes through the gutters and down the hills or over rocks. It is noisy. It is busy. It moves quickly. Pause for a moment and watch.

"On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be Still! Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'' (Mark 4:35-41)
At the beginning of the story, Jesus leaves the crowd to go out in the boat. As you are preparing for summer, what crowds will you leave behind to go on vacation or retreat? Who are the people or emotions that go along with them?
What is the noise in your life? At home? Worries? Things you have to do? Busyness? Hurt? Anger? Fear? Change? Take time to identify them one by one. Then remember the words of Christ, "Peace! Be Still! Let God still the stormy waters within you. Let God turn off the noise and give you peace.

Prayer for Today

Creator God, Thank you for the water that cleanses and refreshes us. Open our minds and hearts to experience your peace and stillness. Guide us as we seek to grow in our faith even in those difficult times. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: Allison Shearouse AT 06:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 13 2016

Pentecost - Traditions and Customs

Alicia Taylor

When it comes to church holidays, Christmas and Easter get all the attention, but what about Pentecost?  Most Christians have heard the term, but some may be hard pressed to explain the significance of the day.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the day on which the liturgical churches commemorate the sending of the Holy Spirit on the early church, as described in Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles.  The name Pentecost means the 50th day; it falls 50 days after Easter Sunday when Christ rose from the dead.
Churches and vestments are often decorated with red, to represent the fire of the spirit in the church, recalling the following verses of Scripture.
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  -Acts 2:1-4
The manner in which the day of Pentecost is observed varies considerably.  In the Eastern church, Pentecost is second only to Easter in its holiness, and the day is prepared for by a long service of kneeling and prostrations.  In Lutheran Germany this was a traditional time for enthusiastic evangelistic preaching.  In France it was the custom to play loud horns in church on Pentecost to announce the great day.
Since medieval times in rural England there has developed the custom of cheese rolling at Pentecost.  In Gloucester, after evening prayers, it is the custom to hurl bread and cheese off the local castle walls, presumably because in medieval times, this was an offering of the rich to the poor, but the custom continues.
Although red is the common color for celebrating Pentecost, in England they have a different tradition.  There, Pentecost is called Whitsunday, for "White Sunday."  By venerable tradition there, the sacred color for Pentecost is white, because in medieval times the English church used a different pattern for the annual liturgical colors of vestments.  Whitsun was also a common day for baptisms, for which the liturgical color was white.
The custom also developed for young women to wear new white dresses on Whitsunday, which also marked the warmer weather that comes in late spring in Britain.  Officially this was a devotion by single women to share in the white colors in the church.  But more commonly, the young ladies in white could send a springtime message to the young men that they were still available for courtship.
In modern times, many churches encourage people to wear red clothes on Pentecost Sunday, matching the color of church paraments.  If you have red in your closet, wear it to church this week as we celebrate the birthday of the Christian church!

Prayer for Today

Holy Spirit, come to us; kindle in us the fire of your love!  Come, O Holy Spirit, come!

Posted by: Alicia Taylor AT 08:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 12 2016

When one says good-bye, there is often a swirl of emotion: sadness, anticipation, trepidation, appreciation.  This Sunday in worship we honor our high school seniors, who will soon be graduating, and I preach my last sermon here at Johns Creek.  The class of 2016 is a unique bunch, the largest class we've had, one filled with a vast variety of mostly wide-eyed rambunctious teenagers.  It's also Pentecost Sunday, as we celebrate the birth of the church and the fact that God is not dead, but alive in the world and in us through the Holy Spirit.

For my sermon, though we won't be actually celebrating communion, I will be talking about the meaning of this sacrament as we look at Jesus' words of institution.  We will explore two Greek words, anamnesis and eucharistia, which mean to remember and give thanks.
When one says good-bye in a positive way, it's almost inevitable that one remembers and gives thanks.  What do you remember fondly about your family, your life, your work, your church, and where do you see God at work in your everyday life?  Sit with those thoughts for a few moments.  As you remember, what is your response?  Hopefully, it is one of gratitude.  I know mine is, especially as I think about my last five plus years here at Johns Creek.  I imagine those seniors, as they reflect on their times at church, also smile and give thanks.  How about you?   Join us for worship this Sunday, bring your friends, and remember to wear red, the color of Pentecost! 
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  
-1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV

Prayer for Today

O God, we remember, and we give thanks.  Amen.
The class of 2016....back in 2011 at the Great Escape!

Posted by: Rev. Scott Huie AT 08:36 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 11 2016

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  -Genesis 12:1-4

I have thought a lot lately about moving on, with Scott and I leaving at the end of May and with all of our seniors graduating. This time has been a sad one for me, but also, it is exciting. There is an excitement about the unknown, but also, there is LOTS of fear and anxiety.  I imagine when Abram was called by God he didn't jump at the opportunity to leave everything he knew. He was rightfully scared of change and moving away. Abram, however, trusted in the promise of God and went for it. That is my challenge and my encouragement for all of you today. We are all called by God and even though we may fall down in our call God is there to lift us up. So go out into your mission field knowing that God has called you to your specific place and if for some reason you feel called somewhere else then well...  Go for it!

So seniors prepare for a time when you get to discern that call and enjoy it while you can!

For those who have a few years left, don't think you can't begin to figure out where God is calling you right now because he is certainly calling you to great things.

Lastly, for all of you who have found your call or maybe are looking for a new one, blessing upon you and know that God walks with you from your home through the anxiety to the promised land.

Prayer for Today

Dear God, 
Being called is scary. Leaving what we know is terrifying. For many of us we feel unqualified or simply undeserving. Lead us God through our days through the fire and the flood. Help us to not lose heart in our calling and run passionately toward it! Amen.  

Posted by: Michael Sanchez AT 08:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 10 2016

How do you prepare for the day? When you wake up in the morning, what are some regular practices that are a part of your routine? Each day often brings its own set of blessings and challenges. Some mornings you may be filled with energy, in need of courage, wake up with anxiety, in need of self-control or in need of peace and calm.

I would invite you this week to take some time each morning to reflect and ask yourself: What significant things are happening in the day ahead? What do I need?
Take a moment to decide which one of these things might represent something that you need today from God and from others: Love, Grace, Peace, Joy, Kindness, Friendship, Patience, Mercy, Self-Control, Courage, Compassion, Honesty, Calmness, Energy.

Let this word sit with you for a moment, lift up your concerns to God in prayer and then take the word with you throughout the day. Then as you begin your day, consider these words from Lamentations:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Prayer for Today

Gracious God, help us to remember that every day is a new day. Guide us as we seek to glorify you with our words and actions. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: Allison Shearouse AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 09 2016

Live. Laugh. Love. My daughter has a plaque that hangs in her room with this short but sweet daily reminder. Life goes better when you make it a point to live, laugh, and love.

I was reminded of the 3 L's as I began to read Barbara Dooley and Debbie Crowe's new book entitled Fourth and Inches: How to Win When Cancer is the Opponent. I was speaking with Barbara Dooley last week regarding CanCare and she sent me a copy of her book which provides inspirational insight into how to live our lives more fully.
She quotes the legendary North Carolina men's basketball coach Jimmy Valvano who shared his daily game plan when he received the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian award.

"To me there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day...that's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you're going to have something special."

Our Christian faith can lead us in a daily game plan that brings laughter, thought, and tears. Jesus' parables serve the same type of inspirational awakening found in Coach Valvano. I can hear the woman who lost a coin in her house when she finally found it laughing that deep belly chuckle that comes with rediscovery of finding what was lost. The very heart of parables is to cause us to stop and think how God acts in our world in ways that are mysterious and amazing. And you need to look no further than the story of the prodigal son to experience the tearful joy and happiness of reunion.

What will bring laughter into your life today? Maybe you need to think about that. I hope you will be moved to tears of joy. Have a full day my friends!

Prayer for Today

Great God, fill us with your spirit so that we will find delight in our day. Bring laughter to our souls and tears of joy to our hearts and remind us to use our minds so that we can witness the glory of your ways. Amen. 

Posted by: Rev. Neal Kuhlhorst AT 08:26 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 06 2016

Alicia Taylor

To God Be the Glory
O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.
-Psalm 98:1 (NRSV)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As many of you have heard by now, I have resigned my position as Director of Worship and Arts.  My last day worshiping with you will be June 19, and my last day at JCPC will be July 2, upon my return from Montreat. 
I first worshiped in our lovely chapel on Sunday, July 3, 2005.  In the ensuing eleven years of ministry, God has indeed done marvelous things in us and through us!  Today's writing is intended to be a grateful reflection of our time together, giving thanks for each of you and for your spiritual gifts shared with glad hearts!
On that July Fourth weekend so many years ago, I visited the Church of the Hills (now JCPC) with my dear friend, Melanie Linder.  She and I both felt an indwelling of the Holy Spirit that day, and we knew that God was calling us to serve in this place.  At the invitation of Charlton Duncan, we joined a large group of fellow COH'ers later that evening for the Duluth fireworks display, and we were warmly welcomed by everyone.  After having visited several other churches, Melanie and I knew we had found ourselves in the place just right, and thus began my season at COH/JCPC.
To the entire congregation, it has been an unbelievable blessing to share my days in fellowship with you!  We have worshiped our Lord, studied scripture with discerning minds, and prayed together and for one another.  We have enjoyed the gift of laughter, walking in sunshine; when the clouds have formed, we have offered a shoulder and carried each other's burdens.  We have celebrated new life in our midst and mourned the loss of saints who have journeyed to God's celestial shores.
We have sold more pumpkins than any other church in Johns Creek!  We have square danced, roasted marshmallows around bonfires, and consumed way too much pork for our own good at many a pig roast.  We have offered gratitude for God's bounteous blessings around our Giving Thanks tables, and we have sung Christmas carols with senior citizens who knew the words from memory better than most of us!
We have celebrated our Presbyterian heritage with bagpipes, drums, and tartans; recounted the birth of Christ through Christmas Joy celebrations and the sweet voices of children; and remembered our Lord's final hours on this earth in the service of darkness known as Tenebrae.  We have waved palm branches, sung hosannas, and delighted in the giggles of little ones as they hunted for candy-filled eggs.  We have sung alleluias, giving thanks for our risen Lord, gathering in the early hours before dawn and culminating with the Hallelujah Chorus proclaiming the reign of Christ.
We have forged new paths for cancer patients to find hope through our wonderful CanCare ministry, and we have offered solace and comfort through the prayers of our Stephen Ministers.  We have provided a place for healing for those who suffer from addiction, served meals to the homeless in our city, stocked shelves at Hands of Christ, and collected pennies for eye drops to prevent river blindness.
To the beloved musicians - singers, ringers, and instrumentalists - I cannot thank you enough for your countless dedicated hours of preparation to provide beautiful worship music through the years, not to mention the numerous volunteer hours behind the scenes.
To the worship team (and music ministry helpers), my gratitude cannot sufficiently be measured in comparison to the untold number of hours you have prepared for special worship services, communion, weddings, memorials/funerals, service flowers; created beautiful tapestry and banners to adorn our chapel walls; trained and scheduled acolytes, liturgists, ushers, and media personnel; supported and staffed the Pumpkin Patch with love; decorated the church for Advent and Holy Week, and prepared meals for Montreat conferences ... the list is long.
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.  God has a plan for all people, and thus he provides cycles of life, each with its work for us to do.  I believe God called me to the Church of the Hills in July 2005 with a plan and a purpose - plans to prosper me, my young children, and the worship and music ministry of this church.  I do not yet know what God's plan is for the next season of my life, but I do know it is time to sing a new song and give thanks for the marvelous things God has done in our midst.  To God be the glory!
I will be forever grateful to Dr. Larry Wood and the session of the church for giving me the opportunity to serve this congregation, and I hold many wonderful memories dear to my heart.
Prayer for Today

Almighty God, thank you for this amazing body of believers and for our season together.  Amen!

Posted by: Alicia Taylor AT 02:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 05 2016

Often one of the hardest things to do in life is to say good-bye.  Life is full of them.   From the womb to the tomb, we are confronted by the need to let go.  Some good-byes obviously are harder than others, especially saying good-bye to those we love.

As I wind down my five plus years here at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church, I find myself overcome with emotion.  As I prepare to move to Nashville, Tennessee at the end of the month, I am excited about new adventures and opportunities, but at the same time, I am sad for the loss I will feel as I leave this place.  JCPC has been home.  You have been family.  I have loved deeply here, and felt loved unconditionally.  So how do we say good-bye? 
For the next two weeks for my last two sermons, I will preach a short series on SAYING GOOD-BYE-good-bye to people, of course, but also good-bye to circumstances and good-bye to chapters of our lives.  Life, in fact, could be seen as a series of good-byes as we move from one letting-go to another.  How do we go through this process faithfully?
One memorable good-bye we find in scripture that I will tackle this Sunday is the prophet Elijah's being taken away to heaven through a whirlwind aboard a horse-drawn chariot of fire.  What do we learn as Elijah turns the prophetic reins over to Elisha to lead Israel?  We learn that we can let go with confidence!   Come join us for worship on this Mother's Day Sunday, and don't forget to bring Mom! 

"As they (Elijah and Elisha) continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.  Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father!  The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!"  But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces."                                             
-2 Kings 2:11,12

Prayer for Today

O God, we thank you for great people like the prophets of old, Elijah and Elisha, and also for the great people in our lives even today, especially our mothers.  Help us to learn from the generations before us.  And help us to say good-bye faithfully knowing that as we let go, we do so into your hands.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Posted by: Rev. Scott Huie AT 04:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 04 2016

He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins. -Ezra 9:9

In the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem you'll find Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue.  Built in the 19th century, the synagogue was dynamited by commandos during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

For years the site lay in ruins.  Then, in 2014, rebuilding began. As city officials set a piece of rubble as the cornerstone, one of them quoted from Lamentations: Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old.  
-Lamentations 5:21

It takes time, but we can always trust Him.

Lamentations is Jeremiah's funeral song for Jerusalem. With graphic imagery the prophet describes the impact of war on his city.  Verse 21 is his heartfelt prayer for God to intervene.  Still, the prophet wonders if that is even possible.  He concludes his anguished song with this fearful caveat:

...unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure (verse 22).

Decades later, God did answer that prayer as the exiles returned to Jerusalem.  Our lives seem to be in ruins. Troubles of our own making and conflicts we can't avoid may leave us devastated.  But we have a Father who understands.  Gently, patiently, He clears away the rubble, repurposes it, and builds something better.  It takes time, but we can always trust Him. He specializes in rebuilding projects.

Prayer for Today

Lord, You have reclaimed us, and You are remaking us. Thank You for Your love and Your care despite our self-centered and destructive ways.  Thank You for true forgiveness and unity in You.  Amen.

Posted by: Our Daily Bread AT 05:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 03 2016

Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.   -John 13:33-35

In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know they are his by one thing and one thing only: when they love one another. Sisters and brothers, if there is one thing and one thing only that marks us as people of God, may it be this: that we love one another.

Sometimes it's easy to know something about a person based on the bumper stickers or license plate on their car, "they are a ______ (fill in the sports team) fan" or a "________ (fill in the college)Mom or Dad". As you go through your day, do you think it's easy for people to see that you are a follower of Christ?

The song "The Face of Love" by Sanctus Real talks about the different ways we've envisioned Jesus throughout the centuries. The song says of Jesus that "there was no one too lost for him to love and no one too low for him to serve." What stories from Jesus' life come to mind that show how he loved others? The song concludes by saying to Jesus "Let us be your face."  As Christians, how can we be "the face of love" at school/home/work/with friends/in the world?

Prayer for Today

God of glory and love, help us to be someone who loves others in what we say and by what we do. Help us to show your incredible love with those in our community so that the world may know that you are a God of love. Amen.

Posted by: Allison Shearouse AT 05:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 02 2016

The door to the JCPC Counseling Center's waiting room opens up to a world of imaginative play and promise. During the week, the JCPC preschool playground is full of little tykes running, screaming and inventing games with their new friends. I love saying hello to the children and teachers and I'm amazed how the shy 2 year olds morph into chatter boxes by the time they are 4. 

This area is more than a playground; however, it is a garden in which faith grows. I was reminded of this truth on Friday when Susie Howard, Jenny Ridnour, and I left my office and were awakened by memories of old that spoke to the faith that grows on this sacred space of playsets, mulch, and plastic cars. Jenny pointed to a corner and said that is where she would see Brady playing. By the way, Brady recently celebrated his 21st birthday. Jenny went on to say that her daughter Mackenzie was a JCPC preschooler before the Ridnour family joined the church. Mackenzie said, "Let's go to my church!" and they did.

Susie pointed to a plastic slide and told how she and Jeff donated the slide once their children had grown beyond its size. She pointed to the metal playset with a bazillion kids climbing on it and noted that the Howards contributed with other families to provide a sturdier structure on which the children can play and grow. We marveled together how thousands of children and their families have been blessed on this playground.

Christian faith is a blending of remembering the past
 while viewing a promised future. 

Our preschool is the embodiment of our faith in God's providential care as we remember the mighty acts of God in scripture and see the activity of God's spirit in our present working for a future stilled hoped. Smile children of God, no matter your age! 

Prayer for Today

O God, grant us the faith of children to find delight in playing, working, and sharing. Lord, grant us the faith of parents and grandparents so that our sacrifices and gifts for an unknown, but hoped for future bring glory to your name. Amen.  

Posted by: Rev. Neal Kuhlhorst AT 05:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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10950 Bell Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30097
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