All posts by Rev. Todd R. Lattig

RECLAIM, Episode 7: Faith

RECLAIM premieres on YouTube every Saturday at 9:00 a.m. EST (GMT -400).

In this brand new video series, Pastor Todd of First United Methodist Church of Newton, NJ brings passionate awareness and helpful tips on various transformational Christian practices and theology. Each episode will inspire and motivate spiritual growth through time-tested practices and and wisdom. This week’s episode invites you to RECLAIM faith as a wholesome and healthy part of our daily lives. Pastor Todd will discuss who has faith, and how it can lead us to different levels of seeing.

RECLAIM, Episode 6: Gratitude

RECLAIM premieres on YouTube every Saturday at 9:00 a.m. EST (GMT -400).

In this brand new video series, Pastor Todd of First United Methodist Church of Newton, NJ brings passionate awareness and helpful tips on various transformational Christian practices and theology. Each episode will inspire and motivate spiritual growth through time-tested practices and and wisdom.

This week’s episode invites you to RECLAIM gratitude as a wholesome and healthy practice in our daily lives. Pastor Todd will discuss about what gratitude is, what it means to cultivate a grateful life, as well as why it is important an important spiritual discipline.

Episode 196 | Purple Theory, part 8: Gratitude

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-esufz-ff9d17

In this episode, Rev. Todd discusses the importance of the spiritual discipline of gratitude in this final message in the Purple Theory series.

EPISODE NOTES:

Giving Thanks Can Make You Healthier” article by Harvard Health Publishing.

First UMC of Newton, NJ premieres worship online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Join us for worship on YouTube.

If you worship with us online and/or you would like to give to First UMC of Newton, your generosity will help us sustain with our mission and ministries during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are still paying our staff and we are still ministering to people in our community and beyond. Your support is vital to us being able to do so. Thank you for considering giving at https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc.

Sign up for bi-weekly devotions at Life-Giving Water.

Subscribe to Life-Giving Water Messages, also on iTunes and Google Play Music.

Subscribe to the Party on Johncast, co-hosted by Rev. Sal Seirmarco and Rev. Todd Lattig

April 4, 2021 – Easter Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Good Friday, April 4, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for April 4, 2021. We will be continuing on in the Lenten worship series entitled, Purple Theory. Today we will be discovering the importance of living a life of Gratitude as a spiritual practice, which makes us draw closer closer to God through understanding that everything we have is a gift from God and being grateful for it. Let us discover how this discipline can bring us hope, healing, and wholeness.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

Holy Week 2021: Fulfilled: Easter Sunday

Read Isaiah 53:7-12

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” (Daniel‬ ‭7:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.

His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

 Easter Sunday. He is risen! In Isaiah 53:7-12, the prophet talks about God’s suffering servant. He mentions that the holy sufferer will see what was accomplished as a result of his suffering and be satisified. The sufferer will know that the suffering had not been in vain; rather, he sees that his suffering has brought redemption to many. Many, as a result of him bearing the sins of the world, will find salvation.

Isaiah continued on to proclaim, “I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels” (vs. 12). Thus, the suffering servant suffered death but was honored like a victorious soldier. Isaiah, when writing this, may have seen himself as the suffering servant. He may have seen Israel as a whole as the suffering servant, and that Israel was bearing witness of their faith in God to a hostile world.

The neat thing about prophecy is that that, regardless of the original context, a prophecy comes from God and the visions revealed in them prove themselves true in ways we could have never expected. Even if Isaiah had Israel in mind as the suffering servant, the way this prophecy got fulfilled in Jesus Christ is beyond human comprehension. It is the power of God on full display for all the world! Surely, Jesus came from Israel and through Jesus (the righteous suffering servant), many found redemption from their sins. How awesome is our God!

Daniel also prophesied about the Son of Man, and the glorious victory he would have over the sinful world. In verse 17, he enters onto the scene in glory, in the very presence of the living God. Furthermore, in verse 26, Daniel wrote, “Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel‬ ‭7:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬). In other words, the Son of Man (aka Jesus Christ) has established God’s Kingdom on earth and that all the kindoms of the earth will be given over to God’s people who serve and obey the soveriegn God.

Daniel’s verse is often seen as a prophecy for the future, for the second coming of Christ. While the future has yet to be revealed, it certainly makes sense being that the world has yet to be fully delivered from sin and evil. It is easy to understand that this prophecy could still have more unveiling to do; however, prophecy is the gift that keeps on giving and, while more may be fulfilled in this prophecy, it is also true that it has already seen fulfillment in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Let me explain. Forty days after resurrecting and showing himself to countless people, Jesus ascends (coming on the clouds) into heaven and is “led into [the] presence “of the “Ancient One”. What happened from there? Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, which outpoured onto the disciples, filling them with God’s Spirit and power. From the day of Pentecost and onward, the disciples healed the sick, took care of the poor, visited the imprisoned, raised the dead to life and preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to all of the known world. Within 400 short years, this little sect of Judaism overtook the Roman Empire, the very empire that executed Jesus and his followers. Holy wow!!! Think about that. The impossible was made possible as a result of Jesus’ resurrection! Praise God!

Certainly, the resurrection was not the end of the story, but the beginning of it. Christians, being human beings, have fallen short and have sometimes put the institution of Christianity above Christ; however, Christ is still unfolding the salvation, redemption and sancitification of this world. What’s more, we are a part of that unfolding! We are a part of the story. We are the ones who, if we are faithful, will do even greater things than that of the disciples if we would only open our hearts to the possibility and to the call. With that said, happy Easter! He is risen! Now, rise up and preach the good news of Jesus Christ to all the world!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
He is risen and you can rise with him!

PRAYER
Lord, you have redeemed me and I choose to live the RESURRECTED LIFE in you! Amen.

Holy Week 2021: Fulfilled: The Great Sabbath

Read Zechariah 9:11-12

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.” (1 Peter‬ ‭3:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.

His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

 The Great Sabbath. The Great Sabbath, also known as Holy Saturday, is the day following Jesus’ death. While some may wonder why it was called “the Great Sabbath” when Jesus was dead, it is obvious that death is the “final rest”, and Sabbath is the day of rest set apart by God. Thus, even on the surface, it makes sense that Holy Saturday would be considered the Great Rest.

Yet, we can take it one step further. It is also the day that the disciples and Jesus’ family all stayed in hiding for fear that they would be captured and crucified. The times were tense and, while I am sure that Holy Saturday was stressful (not “restful”), they weren’t out and about doing things on that day. What’s more, though they did not realize it at the time, they were lying in wait for what would take place early the next morning.

Still, while the above reasons are all insightful in some way or another, they are not ultimately what makes Holy Saturday “The Great Sabbath”. Saturday, in Judaism (sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening), is Sabbath and/or the day of rest. It was also Passover, which made this particular Sabbath even more special. When we look at the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels, we will notice that while Jesus took God’s call to observe Sabbath seriously, he did not do so legalistically. Yes, he would rest when and where he could. Yes, he would go up onto a mountaintop to pray; however, he would do God’s work on the Sabbath, which often landed him in trouble with the Pharisees.

On this particular Sabbath, while Jesus’ physical body was resting in the stone cold, dark, cavernous tomb, Jesus’s spirit was in Sheol, the place of the dead, preaching the good news to them and showing them the way to salvation (1 Peter 3:19-20). Thus, in God’s great mercy, those who came before Christ and had died in their sin, Christ came and gave them a way out of their sin.

This fulfilled the words of Zechariah “Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon” (Zechariah‬ ‭9:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬). The “dungeon” or “pit” is, in this context, is referring to both the grave and Sheol. This passage indicates that God’s plan was to uphold the covenant made with God’s people. This, by the earliest Christians, was seen to be fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ on The Great Sabbath.

While this was certainly awesome news back then, it is awesome news even to this day. While we were not literally dead, or literally in the place of the dead (aka the pit), we were once lost, and now we have been found. We were once blind, but now we see. We were once dead, but in Christ we have found TRUE and EVERLASTING LIFE! Hallelujah! Praise the LORD our God, for in Christ we conquer death (in all its aspects) and gain TRUE LIFE.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Hell hath no power at all.” — Demon Hunter, “Storm the Gates of Hell”

PRAYER

Lord, thank you so much for what you have done for me. In your name, help me to storm the gates of hell and preach the good news to all who need it. Amen.

April 2, 2021 – Good Friday Tenebrae Service

Worship service premieres at 7:30 p.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Friday Tenebrae Service for April 2, 2021. It’s Holy Week!!! Tonight’s worship is a Tenebrae service that remembers Jesus’ passion (suffering) during his final hours on earth, including his death on the cross and burial in the tomb. This is will be a powerful and moving worship experience, no doubt.

DISCLAIMER: While this is a full Christian worship experience with mild imagery, a Tenebrae service recounts the betrayal, arrest, trial, flogging, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. Parental discretion advised.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

Holy Week 2021: Fulfilled: Good Friday

Read Isaiah 53

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away when I groan for help?” (Psalms 22:1)

When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.

His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

 Good Friday. What is so good about Friday of Holy Week? Isn’t this the day that Jesus of Nazareth was put through a mock trial, was found guilty of blasphemy by the religious leaders, sent to Pontius Pilate to be publicly tried, was found guilty of treason against Rome, was whipped, beaten, and crucified? Why in the world would we ever consider this particular Friday good?

Indeed, in terms of what happened to Jesus on that Friday, it was NOT a good Friday. It was the worst of Fridays for him, for his disciples, for his family and for his friends. It was the worst of Fridays for those who put their hope in him as the Jewish messiah, the liberator of the Jews from Roman occupation.

A brief note on the term messiah. The term comes from the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (pronounced maw-shee’-ak), which in Greek is Χριστός (pronounced khris-tos’). This of course is the word that transliterates into Christ in English. The Jews had many different understandings of who the messiah would be, and what his role would be. With that said, the predominant understanding in Jesus’ day was that he would be a king that would rise up out of King David’s lineage, would come from Bethlehem, and would establish his kingdom and reign forever (through royal lineage). This king would overthrow the foreign occupiers, and re-establish Judah/Israel as a united sovereign kingdom.

Yet, that is NOT all the Bible had to say about who this messiah would be. In Daniel, the prophet foresees a divine “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds to overthrow the oppressive world order and establish God’s Kingdom.

Isaiah talked about a “suffering servant” through whom the sins of the world would be redeemed. Isaiah wrote that this was God’s plan for this appointed sufferer, and wrote of this person that “when he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” (Isaiah‬ ‭53:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

That is what makes GOOD FRIDAY SO GOOD! Yes, Jesus suffered terribly for those who did not deserve it! Yes, it was not a good day for Jesus or his family or followers. But it WAS…AND IS…Good Friday. If this is still hard to understand, think of someone like Oscar Schindler Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who suffered tremendously (and died) in order to help Jews escape Nazi Germany and who worked tirelessly, and unsuccessfully, to bring down the Adolph Hitler. Or the suffering of Harriet Tubman and others to liberate slaves through the Underground Railroad. While their suffering was not good, it was necessary to liberate countless people. Their suffering was not good, but the moment of liberation was to celebrate!

Good Friday, which marks the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, also marks the fulfillment of God’s promise to liberate humanity from its sin and separation from God. Now, through Jesus Christ, all human beings were given the blessed opportunity to be forgiven for their sins and reunited with their Creator. This is not just good news, THIS IS GREAT NEWS! We do not celebrate the torturous capital punishment of our Lord; rather, we celebrate the good news of liberation from sin, evil and death as a result of his selfless sacrifice. This celebration begins on Good Friday, and culminates on Easter Sunday, when we are given the assurance that in Jesus Christ, sin and death ARE NO MORE!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There can be no resurrection without death.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to die to my sins and liberate me from my old self. Redeem me and recreate me so that I may fully live into your image in which I was created. Amen.

April 1, 2021 – Maundy Thursday Service

Maundy Thursday Service premieres on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Welcome to our Maundy Thursday Worship Service for April 1, 2021. We will be continuing on in the Lenten worship series entitled, Purple Theory. Today we will be discovering the importance of faithfulness and service as a spiritual practices, which makes us draw closer closer to God through following his will for us, including his commandment to love one another through serving others. Let us discover how this discipline can bring us hope, healing, and wholeness.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.