Relationships Are a Means of Grace

The MessageFor those who are dipping a toe into the Wednesday evening small group beginning this Wednesday evening on The Marks of a Methodist, the phrase “means of grace” will become more and more familiar. This phrase points to tangible things like Holy Communion, fasting, and visiting with the sick where we can experience the “nearness of the Lord more fully.” To use Wesley’s language (itself the language of the early church), these are each “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Continue reading “Relationships Are a Means of Grace”

From Wesley’s Sermon Means of Grace (1747)

By “means of grace” I understand outward signs, words, or actions, ordained of God, and appointed for this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace.

I use this expression, means of grace, because I know none better; and because it has been generally used in the Christian church for many ages; — in particular by our own Church, which directs us to bless God both for the means of grace, and hope of glory; and teaches us, that a sacrament is “an outward sign of inward grace, and a means whereby we receive the same.”

The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and receiving the Lord’s Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him: And these we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men…We allow, likewise, that all outward means whatever, if separate from the Spirit of God, cannot profit at all, cannot conduce, in any degree, either to the knowledge or love of God… It is He alone who, by his own almighty power, worketh in us what is pleasing in his sight; and all outward things, unless He work in them and by them, are mere weak and beggarly elements. Whosoever, therefore, imagines there is any intrinsic power in any means whatsoever, does greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, neither the power of God…

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Race Day

let us run with perseverance the race marked out for usThis Sunday morning, before we come together to worship, over five hundred people will be lacing up their running shoes in Clinton. They will stand around in the cool fall morning, stretching, remembering messages of support, queueing up playlists to keep them motivated… some will fight with safety pins to get their number to stay attached to their shirt or jacket. Some might wonder if they are even going to finish this race at all. Continue reading “Race Day”

Simple Religion

The MessageHave you ever gone through physical therapy? Maybe it came after an injury or a surgery… If you have, you know it can feel impossible. The prescribed stretches tear and burn while the bruises and scars remind us constantly that we were in pain and, in fact, still live there in the domain of the acute. The commitment to heal that takes strength, courage, and determination. For anyone in a season of recovery now, know you are cared for and prayed for. Continue reading “Simple Religion”

Sharing Our Resources

The MessageEvery time I visit a church for the first time I see something surprising. If you have ever served as a trustee you will back me up on this: churches find creative solutions to challenges (sometimes in ways that leave future generations shaking their heads). We are adaptive and adaptable, adjusting to meet the needs of a community in a time and place. Above all else, our faithfulness drives us to be resourceful. Continue reading “Sharing Our Resources”

Sunday School is Back!

Sunday SchoolFor parents and those who have nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors and more, the schedule for Sunday morning looks like this:

10:30AM: worship begins, all children present. Opening prayer, one hymn, scripture reading, and children’s message all take place with children to receive and participate.

10:45AM: Children follow Kim or other teachers downstairs to the one Sunday School room. There they will find two tables, one for younger children, and one for our bigger kids, where each will receive a lesson geared toward their learning level.

It is our hope that the children will be awakened to the gracious love of God and felt called to pass that on.

Joyful Noise

The 100th Psalm is a favorite of many, myself included. It’s short and memorable:

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV)

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