shopify site analytics
Skip to main content
#
JCPC
 
Reflections

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.

Wednesday, October 31 2018

Yesterday, Brian and I went downtown for an Interfaith Prayer Service at The Temple in response to the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Temple was full - standing room only. Prayers, scripture readings, and songs expressed the hurt, as well as the hope that God would comfort those who mourned. There were also words from the mayor of Atlanta and many others calling an all present not to let hate win, but to always choose love.

 

One of the most moving moments for me occurred when a member of The Temple told of growing up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where the killings took place. He talked about the supportive character of the community and how what happened seems inconceivable. He told about two young men who were there every time the synagogue was open to welcome people. He surmised that they had probably warmly welcomed the man who later shot them. He also noted that Squirrel Hill was the neighborhood where "Mr. Rogers" (Fred Rogers) actually lived. So, when someone like this man talked about this being the synagogue in the neighborhood where he grew up, it all became both more real and more tragic.

 

The Rabbi of The Temple also shared that one of the victims, a dentist, was the relative of one of The Temple's families. He said that the man was nearing retirement and thinking about what he would do in the next phase of his life. He also volunteered his dental skills at a local Catholic charity, mostly to provide dental care for the poor -- especially immigrants and refugees.

 

The prayers spoken yesterday cried out to God for the loss of human life. The music was mournful. And yet there was a deeper sense that this event would not be the final word, and that fear would not be the end result. Many of the speakers felt the need to challenge those of us present to do something about ending this kind of thing now. I left there thinking about what I should do. At the very least, we should all be asking that question - and then do something so this kind of thing will finally end!

 
Prayer for Today

 

Our hearts are broken again, Lord, when something like this happens. Help us to always love our neighbor. Show us what you would have us do now to end these kinds of tragic events - no matter how hard that may be. Give us the courage to do the right thing until your will is finally done here on earth as it is in heaven. In the strong name of Jesus the Christ, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 30 2018
Reflecting Pool

 

Then Christ will live in your hearts because you believe in him. And I pray that your love will have deep roots. I pray that it will have a strong foundation. May you have power with all God's people to understand Christ's love. May you know how wide and long and high and deep it is. And may you know his love, even though it can't be known completely. Then you will be filled with everything God has for you.

 -Ephesians 3:17-19

 

In Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, we hear that to know and be rooted in Christ's love, is to more fully be the people God has created and is calling us to be. We are empowered to be the best versions of ourselves. This passage reminds me of our call to pass on this message to all the children, youth, and adults in our church as they are on their faith journey.

 

I had the privilege of spending time this morning with our Senior Adult Bible study as we began studying the book of Ephesians together. This letter from Paul and his message to us is a helpful reminder to me that each one of us has the opportunity to help others experience the width, length, height, and depth of God's love.

 

What can you do to share God's love that is deeply rooted in you? Who has been a teacher or mentor along the way for you? What did they do that made an impact on your journey?

In a world where the pressure to succeed is high and many hear that they are only loved for as much as they can perform, Paul's reminder to us is even more relevant. We are called to share that God's love is unconditional and far exceeds the limits of this earth.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Gracious God, Thank you for your gift of love. Help us to be open to experience your love and allow it to take root in our lives. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 29 2018

When is the last time that you thought of rest as a sanctuary for and in your life? For that matter, when did you think of rest as a form of compassion?

 

I was reminded of these qualities of rest when I visited the Friday's Keeper's group last week. It was a spontaneous visit in that I saw the Keepers in the Calvin Room and I decided to poke my head in to say hello. Alice Ann Nilsen waved me in and invited me to participate in a conversation regarding the gifts of the Spirit. That day they were studying compassion, so I focused on The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of compassion.

 

Blending theology with concepts from human development I shared my belief that we are created in the image of God and that compassion is initially shared and received through facial looks and tones in the space between the infant and caregivers' faces. This compassionate space is practiced and shared throughout life as we express the spiritual gift of compassion. An experience of relaxed joyfulness is often experienced.

 

That's the good. Of course, the bad is when compassion is not shared. Enough said!

 

When in the caregiver role, we can experience what is known as compassion fatigue. The depletion felt in the soul is the ugly because even though sharing compassion is an expression of our better self, the fatigue often leads us to experiences of being less than our better self. Our conversation turned to the need for rest as a compassion form of self-care.

 

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. This commandment is the second longest of the Ten Commandments; however, it is the one that we most often ignore. For our own self-care God tells us to take a break! Yet how often we feel guilty when we stop to rest! I mentioned to the Keepers that good self-care involves what I call plop and drop! The Sabbath is a sanctuary of rest for the compassionate!

 

So take care of yourselves my friends; plop and drop! God says so according to the Commandments.


Buddy and Walker invite you to Plop and Drop!

 
Prayer for Today
Teach us to practice the gift of rest, O Lord, so that we can more fully be gentle in our kindness as we compassionately care for those in need. Amen.
Posted by: AT 02:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, October 26 2018

The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  -1 John 4:14

My parents taught me to love all sorts of music-from country to classical. So my heart beat rapidly as I walked into the Moscow Conservatory, one of Russia's great music halls, to hear the Moscow National Symphony. As the conductor drove the musicians through a masterful Tchaikovsky piece, themes developed that gradually built to a powerful crescendo-a profound and dramatic musical climax. It was a magical moment, and the audience stood to roar its approval.


The Scriptures move toward the most powerful crescendo of history: the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the moments following Adam and Eve's fall into sin in the garden of Eden, God promised that a Redeemer would come (Genesis 3:15), and throughout the Old Testament that theme moved forward. The promise rang out in the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21), the hopes of the prophets (1 Peter 1:10), and the longings of the people of God.


First John 4:14 confirms where that story had been going: "We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." How? God accomplished His promised rescue of His broken world when Jesus died and rose again to forgive us and restore us to our Creator. And one day He will come again and restore His whole creation.


As we remember what God's Son has done for us, we celebrate the great crescendo of God's grace and rescue for us and His world-Jesus!

 
Prayer for Today

Father, Your Son has impacted Your world like nothing else. I'm grateful He has come for my rescue and will come again to restore Your world. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 25 2018

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me."

-Isaiah 6:8

 

 

I wrote this Sunday morning and thought I'd save it for Thursday...

 

I do not mind showing up to church on our coldest day since spring and being an audience of one listening to our magnificent organist play Morning has Broken and Here I Am Lord on the piano.

 

The latter song has been played for me at every installation service and my original ordination service nine years ago almost to the day. Mr. Rogers passed away my freshmen year of college and the entire campus mourned. I mourned especially for a childhood hero and someone I'd grown up hearing was a Presbyterian pastor. At some point a couple years later, I was given the book, "Is it I, Lord?" and it got me thinking about ministry again. I guess I figured if the ministry had room for a quiet clean cut rebel saint like Fred at one end of the spectrum, it might have room for a not so quiet or saintly or clean cut rebel like me at the other.

 

I'm grateful for a calling that is so deep and wide that I can share it with someone like that, that we could both say, "here I am, Lord." That we all can. Next time you sing this, I hope you'll think about how different we can be, how flawed, how young or old, and we can all answer, "here I am."

 
Prayer for Today

Lord, here I am. Send me. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, October 24 2018

This past Monday, Eugene Peterson died -- one of the great saints of the church. Eugene was a Presbyterian (PCUSA) pastor, but he is best known to many as the translator of "The Message" version of the Bible. I tell folks that if their reading of the Bible has gone flat, reading "The Message" is one way to kick-start things. You may also remember that last year I invited the whole congregation to read his book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" as I preached on the Psalms. I mentioned Eugene Peterson just a few weeks ago in a sermon when we talked about "blessing."

 

Many of you may also remember that when I went on my sabbatical the summer before last, Eugene Peterson was one of the persons with whom I visited. Eugene and his wife Jan live in Montana, and he was the first person who agreed to meet with me. Once he said yes, then I began to ask others if they would also meet with me - but Eugene was the first.

 

One of the reasons I thought of visiting Eugene was because of a video I had seen on YouTube in which, Bono, the singer of the band U2, goes to Eugene's home to meet him. Bono and other members of the band had been influenced in their faith by Peterson's books. I have included a link below to the video, if you want to get a feel for what he was like. But, after watching that encounter, I wondered if he would meet with me. Graciously, he agreed to - and it was one of the highlights of my sabbatical!

 

When I think of "The Joy of Giving" and our upcoming Stewardship Dedication this Sunday, I recall the joy I experienced sitting in the presence of one of the great and wise saints of our time. Eugene and his wife Jan not only met me for lunch at a restaurant, they invited me to their home to talk further. That gift of time was priceless and I will never forget it. I am grateful to God for the gift of Eugene Peterson's life, and the gift of his time he gave to me!

 

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l40S5e90KY

 

P.S.  Don't forget Kirkin' o' the Tartans is this Sunday at both services in The Great Hall.

 
Prayer for Today

Thank you, God, for those wise men and women you place in our lives. As Eugene often reminded us, help us to see that your grace is all around us. In the strong name of Jesus the Christ we pray - Amen!

Posted by: AT 02:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 23 2018

In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, we are reminded to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength. The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up."

 

I get to experience the way our community of faith lives out these commandments each day through the ministry of our Preschool. Every morning around 9:00 a.m., you will start to see cars lined up ready to drop off their children at school. Many of these children walk through the door with smiles on their faces anticipating all of the exciting experiences of their day. Our Preschool Directors and Teachers are sharing with these children each day what it means to really love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. They take seriously that we are called to share this message with our children.

 

I have an even greater appreciation for all our Preschool teaches our children since Will is now in his 4th school year here. Each day he comes home learning something new... a word, a song, a story, a letter, a way to be a friend, a way to share, a way to say Thank You, a way to love.

 

I would invite you this week to consider some of the ways that you can help others in our faith community grow.

 

*Keep talking about faith. What did you hear in worship on Sunday? What did you hear in Sunday School?

*Pick up a Bible or children's Bible and read together daily.

*Use the time in the car, at a sports practice, or during a lazy Saturday morning at home or on vacation to wonder together about God.

*Adventure outside together looking for signs of God's love and creation.

*Find an outreach project you can participate in together, and help your family understand the connection between helping others and following Jesus.

*Pray together.

*Write down some of the things your family members say about faith or experiences you share.

 

The hustle and bustle of this time of year is underway. For many your rhythm and routine have changed. As you are wading through or rushing past, take a moment today to think about how you will make time to grow in your faith and how you can help someone else grow in theirs.

 
Prayer for Today

Creator God, open our eyes and ears to the way you are teaching us throughout our week. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 22 2018

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.  -Psalm 65: 8-13

 

I hope that you are enjoying the mild October weather and all of God's beauty during the Fall season.  October is my favorite month of the year and I find that my "inner psalmist" is constantly saying "thank you prayers" to our Creator. The verses from Psalm 65 speak of songs of joy, God's provisions, abundance, and gladness. As we have been exploring the joy of giving I hope that your souls burst forth with praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful gifts of creation!

 

The picture I am sharing has been a consistent source of joy for me. When I visited our pumpkin patch, I was expecting to see a wide array of different sized pumpkins and I did. What immediately caught my attention was a green shaped gourd that resembled a swan. My heart leapt with joy and giddiness.

 

 

God's creation is so splendid that we have swan shaped gourds! This small display in the waiting room of my office features the swan gourd, two gizmo gourds, and a traditional pumpkin; a pee-wee for sure.

 

Accompanying my joy is a sense of mission and purpose. This joy isn't just for me! The pumpkin patch is raising funds so that our youth and accompanying adults will travel on a mission trip to help people in need. The lesson here is to experience joy, thank God, and lend a hand to others. Now that's true abundance!

 
Prayer for Today

Create in me a heart of joy, O Lord, so that I will sing your praise, offer myself to the cause of mission and fully experience the wonders of your creation. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, October 19 2018

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

-Proverbs 3:27

 

Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Texas in 2017. The onslaught of rain stranded thousands of people in their homes, unable to escape the floodwaters. In what was dubbed the "Texas Navy," many private citizens brought boats from other parts of the state and nation to help evacuate stranded people.

 

The actions of these valiant, generous men and women call to mind the encouragement of Proverbs 3:27, which instructs us to help others whenever we are able. They had the power to act on behalf of those in need by bringing their boats. And so they did. Their actions demonstrate a willingness to use whatever resources they had at their disposal for the benefit of others.

 

We may not always feel adequate for the task at hand; often we become paralyzed by thinking we don't have the skills, experience, resources, or time to help others. In such instances, we're quick to sideline ourselves, discounting what we do have that might be of assistance to someone else. The Texas Navy couldn't stop the floodwaters from rising, nor could they legislate government aid. But they used what they had within their power-their boats-to come alongside the deep needs of their fellow man. May we all bring our "boats"-whatever they may be-to take the people in our paths to higher ground.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Lord, all that I have is from You. Help me to always use what You've given me to help others. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 18 2018

Lots of people flock around a generous person; everyone's a friend to the philanthropist.

-Proverbs 19:6 (the Message)

 

Every month, some of our youth and parents head to the shelter at First Presbyterian of Atlanta to serve breakfast to the homeless. This weekend, because of Pumpkin Patch unloading and setup, Fall Fest, and youth working the patch, 

I told families not to try and do everything. They ignored me. Twenty one people showed up and we had to take the bus and a van to get everyone there. 

 

The spirit of our joy in giving and serving that morning was so infectious that when we went to take our ritual group selfie as the "get up early crew," a nearby security guard jumped in the picture. Our joy in serving and giving our time was so evident, others wanted to be a part of it. This was also true setting up the Pumpkin Patch. From parents of the baseball team practicing to new visitors to JCPC to our scouts to a kid from the neighborhood who rode his bike up because he saw we needed help online. When the joy of giving is our way of living, people want to join us and give too. 

 

This week, I hope you'll reflect on our stewardship theme of the Joy of Giving. As you do, remember this week's sermon message that our giving is to be sacrificial, but that it will be joyful. And remember, others will want to join us. 

 
Prayer for Today

 

Lord, remind me that giving is an exercise, meant to be done often so I can do more and more. help me to give even when it's uncomfortable, stretching my heart and my generosity by your spirit, so that the exercise of giving begins to feel as it should, joyful, and others will join us. Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, October 17 2018

This past Sunday we started talking about "The Joy of Giving." Last Saturday I witnessed "The Joy of Giving" firsthand here at JCPC. It happened as many gathered at the church at 8:00 a.m. to unload a tractor trailer full of pumpkins for our annual Pumpkin Patch. The money we make is used to help underwrite things like sending our children, youth, and even adults on mission trips and youth conferences.

 

Now you may not think that 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday is a time for much joy, but actually it was! It was not only church members who showed up. We also had some volunteers who have not yet joined the church help out. In addition, we had the father of a young boy whose baseball team happened to be practicing on our ball field walk over and ask to help out.

 

The joy was evident on the faces of everyone as they worked together to unload the pumpkins. I think this happened for at least two reasons: First of all, it is enjoyable to come together and do something worthwhile. Secondly, when you have more than two hours hanging out with other folks, it gives you time to get to know those you may not have met before on a Sunday. As people introduced themselves and found out each other's life stories, I saw smiles as new connections were made. Joy was all over the place!

 

However, what gave me the greatest joy was a young man named Jordan. (Below is a picture of Jordan and Rick Zahnow in the Pumpkin Patch.) I was standing by my wheelbarrow when Jordan, a middle-schooler, rode up on his bicycle. He took off his helmet and told me he came to help unload pumpkins. I took him over to introduce him to Dawn Melin, who immediately recognized Jordan because she was his school principal last year. After we finished unloading, I asked Jordan why he came. He said that his family had always bought pumpkins from us, and that he had seen on our website that we needed volunteers to help - so he showed up on his bike to help. WOW! If that doesn't fill you heart with joy, I don't know what will.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Gracious and giving God, thank you for the unexpected moments of joy that enter our lives. Help us to find ways to give to others today, so we might reflect the light of your joy into our world. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Posted by: AT 02:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 16 2018

A week ago, someone shared a short TED Talk with me from Ingrid Fetell Lee. She was talking about joy and the visual things that bring us joy. Take minute to think about the things that bring you joy. What do they look like? Who are they? Where do you experience them?

 

We had the privilege of going to the Braves game with Chap's parents on September 22, the day they clinched the National League East spot in the playoffs. There was so much joy all over the stadium from the players and fans. Then the fireworks started, more joy. Not all experiences of joy are this grand. I also experience it when my son gives me a spontaneous hug and says "I love you, Mommy!"

This past Saturday, I experienced joy with our church family at the Fall Fest on our ballfield. Jumping, playing, painting faces, decorating pumpkins, and enjoying time in fellowship together.

 

Paul's letters brought me two reminders about how we can experience and share joy. The way he talks about how it refreshes our hearts or we are overflowing with hope were powerful images for me to consider.

 

Philemon 1:7, "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people."

 

Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Ingrid challenges us by saying, "What we should be doing is embracing joy and putting ourselves in the path of it more often."

 

So how can you embrace joy today? How can you put yourself in the path of it more often? How can you refresh someone's heart or experience an overflow of hope?

If you're curious to see the whole TED Talk you can find it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/ingrid_fetell_lee_where_joy_hides_and_how_to_find_it

 
Prayer for Today

 

Gracious God, Open our hearts and minds to your joy today. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 02:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 15 2018

 

What do you see when you look at this picture? Does this look like a wise place to build a castle? Do you think the builder foolish? Is the picture a newer perspective on the age old question; "is the glass half empty or half full?" What comes to mind?

 

Matthew has Jesus sharing the following wise cautionary tale at the end of his sermon on the mount:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.  

-Matthew 7: 24-27

 

Jesus' teaching came to my mind when I first laid eyes on this photo. Though the castle seems to be set in a precarious position, I imagined that this castle has weathered countless storms over the years. I can imagine the owner proclaiming with delight, "Thank you Lord; my castle is still standing" each and every time he/she cast eyes on it.

 

Jesus says that everyone who hears his words and does them will be like the wise builder whose house withstands the storms of life.

 

Our stewardship theme this year is The Joy of Giving! I know of no greater building material in life than the joy of giving.The Greek word for joy is chara and the Greek word for grace is chare; joy and grace are both gifts from God and when we share these gifts; i.e. do what Jesus says to do, the house/castle we build can withstand all life's storms.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Gracious God, fill us with your gift of joy, so that as we share your grace with others, our faith will grow and our souls will be refreshed amidst our struggles. Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, October 12 2018
Reflecting Pool

 

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. 
-Isaiah 40:11
 

The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That's when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful "real time" picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father.
 

The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God's people (Isaiah 40:1-8). The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God's mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God's power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9-10). 

Included in the announcement was news about the Lord's protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd's arms; nursing ewes would be led gently.
 

In a world where circumstances aren't always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31). 

 
Prayer for Today

 

Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us-in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 11 2018

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

-Isaiah 58:12

 

For years, I've heard debates about participation trophies being the greatest evil of my generation. I received many. At the time, and to this day, I felt the lesson was recognizing the value of showing up and doing the work. Because of that lesson and the examples of my parents and coaches and scout leaders I've continued showing up and doing the work, both in my work life and volunteer hours. In ministry, I have counted on my churches, and their families have counted on volunteers to teach, mentor, do setup, cleanup, sound and lights, coffee, service projects, and events. And as a volunteer in schools and scouting, I've seen the struggle of just finding enough warm bodies to supervise kids or get a small event or task completed. 

 

Last Thursday, a small group of JCPC volunteers who have worked for months to secure sponsors and plan logistics and recruit golfers hosted those golfers for our annual tournament. There is only one trophy for the winning team, but if I had enough trophies and medals, I'd award every golfer and volunteer because their work raised over $11,000 that will go to youth and adult mission trips this year so they can show up and do the work and change countless lives. If you see anyone who did the work and showed up for this event, thank them. 

 

As we recruit for these trips and for next year's tournament, my prayer is you'll consider being one who shows up and does the work. This scripture tells us that as God's people, we will be known as those who show up and do the work, that our very identity will be as people who came to do the work. I hope you'll join us.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Lord, make me a doer of your word and not a hearer only. We give you thanks for your grace and goodness and seek to show that gratitude in showing up and doing the work. Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, October 10 2018

This Sunday we begin talking about something most people want more 

of - JOY! This week I have been thinking about the songs I learned, both inside and outside of the church, that have to do with joy -- songs like "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" or "Joy to the World" (not to be confused with the "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" song of the same name by Three Dog Night.) In our church growing up, we were taught a song called "Jesus and Others and You (J-O-Y)" which went this way:

 

Jesus and Others and You,

what a wonderful way to spell joy.

Jesus and Others and You,

in the life of each girl and each boy.

"J" is for Jesus who died in our place.

"O" is for Others we meet face to face.

"Y" is for You, and whatever you do.

Put yourself third and spell JOY.

 

I am always amazed when I remember songs like that I learned so long ago. It shows how those things we were taught as children can remain with us a very long time.

 

This Sunday we will begin talking about "The Joy of Giving." 

As I said, most people I know would like some more joy in their lives. So, what does joy have to do with giving? It seems like many people try to find joy from getting something, rather than from giving something away. Sunday we will explore what it means when Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35, NIV)

 

What does it mean to be "blessed" and what does that have to do with giving and joy?

 

Also, you will receive a letter next week from me about "The Joy of Giving" and a "Joy of Giving Cookbook" that will inspire you with stories of how your giving makes a life-changing difference in the lives of others through Johns Creek Presbyterian Church. If you look it over, you may discover some joy!

 
Prayer for Today

 

Thank you, God, for your many blessings in our lives. Help us to count our many blessings today and find ways to share them with others. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 09 2018

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to unplug, step away, and be renewed. Chap, Will and I spent three days on Cumberland Island, off the coast of southern Georgia. We packed our tent, hammocks, clothes, and food to prepare for two nights of camping under the live oaks. There are not many days when I do not know what time it is or when I am without cell service to check messages and emails. I was able to just be present with my family and experience the creation that God provides.

 

Not every moment was magical or perfect, but it truly was a needed break in our daily rhythm to recharge, reconnect and refocus. 

Where do you go to recharge? How do you reconnect with family or friends? What works best for you to refocus on what is most important?

 

I would invite you to look ahead in your week, month or season, to set aside a little bit of time to do this important work.

 

Jesus tries to make time for this to happen when he is with the disciples. In Mark's account of the feeding of the 5000, it begins with this, "The apostles gathered around Jesus. They told him all they had done and taught. But many people were coming and going. So they did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said to his apostles, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place. You need to get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a quiet place. (Mark 6:30-32).

Some images from last week that helped me 

stop and appreciate God's creation.

 
Prayer for Today

 

Creator God, Guide us to places where we can be renewed. Help us to be open to changes during these times. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 08 2018

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  -Psalm 34:8

 

Debbie and I were strolling through downtown Crabapple on Saturday during the Crabapple Fall Festival. I happened to see this sign and it caught my fancy. I love October with its temperatures and colors; its football and its festival. Taste and see is a powerful message for all who enjoy October's activities.

 

World communion was celebrated yesterday and it was certainly a taste and see marvel of the worldwide Body of Christ.

If you would like to taste and see the Lord is good this coming Saturday is both the opening of the pumpkin patch as well as the JCPC Fall Fest.

May your October calendar be full of taste and see moments that feed your soul and serve as reminders that the Lord is good...the Lord is good indeed!

 
Prayer for Today

 

God of creation, we give you thanks for the wonders of October. Keep us mindful to continue to taste and see your goodness which surrounds us and feed our souls in life sustaining ways. Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
LinkedIn
Email
Add to favorites
10950 Bell Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30097 get directions
Church: 770-813-9009  |  Fax: 678-807-1923  |  Email: welcome@jcpcusa.org
Preschool: 770-476-1166  |  Email: preschool@jcpcusa.org
  

 

 

Website by Tagline Web Design