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Showing posts from January, 2011

State of the Church 2011

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As we begin another new year, it is good to examine the state of the church. It has been more than 2½ years since the flood and that long since I became the pastor of Salem. This past year the big question was, where would we land as a congregation? We fasted, prayed, and read scripture together as we sought God’s guidance. Then on May 24, nearly two years after the flood destroyed Salem’s downtown buildings, the congregation voted to accept the gracious offer from New Creation UMC to receive their 8.4 acres and phase one building for the cost of their remaining mortgage (about $312,000). This was a major turning point in the life of Salem.
We gathered for our first worship services in our new location on November 21, 2010, Christ the King Sunday. We experienced a collective sigh of relief. After twenty-nine months of destruction, stress, grief, decisions, and hard work, how wonderful to take a breath and revel in God’s peace and restoration.
Now, in assessing the state of Salem, there …

Read the New Testament in 90 Days

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Salem is reading the New Testament in 90 days, beginning Monday, January 24 and ending on Holy  Saturday, the day before Easter (April 24, 2011). Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will mark the halfway point, 45 days.

Typically, we will read just two or three chapters a day. As we read let us be intentional about what it means for us to live together in a way that inhabits the world of the Bible rather than trying to make the Bible fit into our world. That is, Jesus is our Lord. We are his disciples. Therefore we do not ask Jesus to fit into our lives. We ask the Lord to fit our lives into Jesus. We are his body in the world today.

Download the bookmark with the reading plan here.

Habits for the New Year

January 1 is a wonderful time to make some resolutions for the upcoming year. How do we intend to live our lives? After all, life is the most precious gift from God. What we do with it is our response to God. Some of the most popular resolutions in our culture include losing weight, being healthier, getting organized, learning something new, and getting out of debt. Of course, most resolutions fail within the first month. We make the resolution, but often we don’t have a plan to make it happen.
Likewise, as followers of Jesus, it’s not enough to simply want to be a disciple; we need a plan and a process to make that happen. Discipleship is a pattern of life. It’s the practices we cultivate in our lives as we submit to our Lord, Jesus. One of the early Church Fathers, Tertullian (c.160 – c.225) said, “Christians are made, not born.” It takes work. Just like Olympic athletes are made and not born, the kind of people we become is directly related to the habits we practice in life. We foll…