Tag Archives: spiritual

July 25, 2021 – Sunday Worship Livestream

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for July 25, 2021. Today we will be discovering the importance of loving friendships and how we are called to be loving friends to those we may not know yet.

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.

July 25, 2021 – Sunday Worship Livestream

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for July 25, 2021. Today we will be discovering the importance of loving friendships and how we are called to be loving friends to those we may not know yet.

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.

July 11, 2021 – Sunday Worship Livestream

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for July 11, 2021. Today we will be discovering the nature and purpose of worship. Discover the life God created us to live.

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.

May 30, 2021 – Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, May 30, 2021 on YouTube. Starting at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 6, we will resume in-person services as well as stream live on YouTube.

Welcome to our Pentecost Sunday Worship Service for May 30, 2021. Today we will be discovering the importance of the Holy Spirit as one of three coequal persons in the Holy Trinity. Let us discover how this can bring us toward spiritual maturity as well as toward 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.

May 23, 2021 – Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Pentecost Sunday Worship Service for May 23, 2021. Today we will be discovering the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit guides us in being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Let us discover how this can bring us hope, healing, and wholeness to others as well as ourselves.

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.

May 16, 2021 – Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for May 16, 2021. Today we will be discovering that, while we are diverse, Christians are called to seek unity under ONE vision…that of Jesus Christ. In fact, diversity actually strengthens our carrying out that vision. Let us discover how this can bring us hope, healing, and wholeness to others as well as ourselves.

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.

Pedestal

Read Exodus 20:1-6

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15, NLT).

Growing up, there were many things that I aspired to be. I wanted to be an astronaut, an author, a poet, an explorer, a rock star, a web site developer, and a computer programmer. There were so many things, as a child, that I dreamed I would grow up being. Certainly none of them included most of the labor intensive jobs I did end up holding as a young adult: at Burger King, Arbys, in a factory that made rubber hubs and things for technology, in a factory/warehouse that specialized in professional kitchenware, and as an Iron Worker.

From the youngest age and my earliest memories, I wanted to be a pastor. I would pull out my mom’s 8-track tower (yes, this dates me) and would use that as a pulpit to preach from. I would stand at that “pulpit” and preach that “God tells us to love one another”, in my 3-4 year old voice. I loved my Bible, even if I fully didn’t understand it and I just had a connection with Jesus that was unique, especially for someone my age at the time.

Of course, as a teenager, I fell away from my call and wanted to be all the aforementioned things I dreamed about. That, honestly, is not all that unusual. There are so many career paths for kids to follow that it can be overwhelming to just settle on one and, like most kids at the age of 15-17, I was not looking to serve in a church. In fact, from the age 17 and onward, I left Christianity and practiced another religion for several years.

Eventually, however, Christ brought me back to the call He had placed on my heart all those years ago as a young child. So, at 26 years old, I came back to the church and immediately began working toward my call. By age 27, I was enrolled in community college to finish out my associates degree. By 28, I was enrolled at Montclair State University in order to get a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and, by 29, I was enrolled at Drew Theological Schoool to work toward a Master of Divinity degree.

That year was 2007 and, given that I had a family and children, and was working as a youth pastor at my home church, as well as a substitute teacher, I could not afford to finish in 3 years. I ended up graduating in 2011 with an M. Div. From 2011 onward, I worked toward ordination. I was appointed pastor of small church in 2012 and also served as the Director of Mission and Pastoral Care (aka chaplain) at a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). It took me from 2011 to 2017 to get through the process and be ordained. In 2017, I was appointed to my current appointment, where I serve my congregation full-time.

Over the years, as a pastor, I have noticed that I often get put up on a pedestal as if I am the epitome of faith and faithfulness. Because of my role, people in my congregation and in my surrounding community look up to me as if I am “holy”, “Godly”, and as if I have everything together in my life. My family, similarly, gets viewed in the same light. Because they live in my household, they must all be fluent in the Bible, the doctrines of the church, and they must have a joy to do all things “church” and nothing else.

Of course, these perceptions and expectations are not accurate, to say the least, and they are not healthy for the pastor, the family of the pastor, or for the congregation. As a pastor, I am constantly having to remind people that I am merely human and while, yes, I have been set apart to serve God, I am not superhuman and I do not always have everything together. In fact, if you look at the people who served God in the Bible, this could be said about all of them except for Jesus.

There are, therefore, a couple things that need to be addressed for the good of the order. First, as Chrsitians, we are ALL set apart for faithful service to God. Not all of us are called to serve as pastors, but all of us are called to SERVE. Second, the only One who has it all together is God/Jesus Christ. All other people are sinful and in need of God’s grace. To put anyone but God on the pedastal is to make an idol of him/her. Of course, idols ALWAYS fail to deliver the goods, as it were, and that eventually sets the pedastal person up to fail…and FALL…HARD.

As Christians, let us remember that we are to look to God, and to God alone for our salvation. Only God has everything altogether. Only God is faithful without fault. We should respect the offices of those who are serving God; however, we should not view such people, pastors or otherwise, as “holier than thou”. To do so is to turn our back on the One who can actually save us…the one who called your pastor and all pastors, the one who called you and all Christians, to join in the building of God’s heavenly kingdom. Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus and follow him from where we are to where he’s called us to be.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” – Helen H. Lemmel

PRAYER
Lord, steer me away from idolatry, false hope, and unrealistic expectations. Guide my eyes to look upon you Lord. Amen.

May 9, 2021 – Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for May 9, 2021. Happy Mother’s Day!!! Today we will be discovering that showing respect and hospitality toward the stranger is a requirement for Christians. Let us discover how this can bring us hope, healing, and wholeness to others as well as ourselves.

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.

god’s People, part 295: John of Patmos

Read Revelation 1:1-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14).

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables uas to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 295: John of Patmos. So, this is it. This is the last part of what turned out to be a 295 part series exploring all of the major and many of the minor people in the Bible. Of course, I will continue on writing general devotions just as I have since 2012; however, this devotion is bitter-sweet to write as I have been working on and off on this series since May of 2017.

In this devotion, we will be looking at our final person, John, who wrote the book of Revelation. When it comes to the Book of Revelation, there is much mystery, confusion and controversy. Often times people will accidentally refer to it as “Revelations”, thus making it plural; however, this is incorrrect. It was one revelation given to the author, John, who recorded it down for the seven churches of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). These churches were located in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

The full title of the Book of Revelation is actually, The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Thus, John was less the author and more of the scribe. Jesus dictated to John what he was to write down for the seven churches who had been under, presumably, localized persecution. On top of that, there were many false teachers turning people within those congregations away from Christ and all that the apostles had taught them. Revelation is considered to be a part of the Johannine community because of it’s theological similarities to the Gospel and, especially, the letters of John.

The Gospel of John, and the epistles, never identify who the author was. Church tradition has presumed that the Apostle John, son of Zebedee was the author of these texts; however, it must be said that all were written anonymously. The author of the Gospel only ever refers to himself as the one whom Jesus loved. Christians have identified this author with the Apostle John because he was never mentioned by name in the Gospels, and therefore it seems as if he could have been writing it.

It is clear that the epistles (letters) of John were written by the same author or community, hence the name Johannine Community. As for Revelation, there has been much dispute as to who its author was. Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165 AD) and Bishop Iranaeus   (c. 130 – c. 202 AD) identified the author of Revelation as John the Apostle, son of Zebedee; however, this was later rejected by Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (d. 265 AD) and an influential elder named Gaius, who also lived in the third centruy.

While Justin Martyr and Irenaeus were closer to the time that Revelation was written, Bishop Donysius and Gaius were probably correct in rejecting the Apostle John as the author. The author of Revelation introduces himself merely as John, a servant of Christ, who was exiled to the small, rocky island of Patmos for preaching and teaching about Jesus; therefore, it is best to refer to this author as John of Patmos, for if John was the apostle, he would have identified himself as such. Furthermore, John refers to the twelve apostles in Revelation 21:14, as if they were distinct from himself.

Revelation is a tough book to decipher because it is filled with tons of metaphorical and apocalyptical imagery, numerology and code language that is hard for one to decipher, especially if one is reading it in an English translation. John wrote the book because he was given a vision of Christ return to earth, where he will one day establish God’s Kingdom on a newly reborn earth. Sin, death, evil, and opression will cease to be. There will be no more mourning or pain, no more suffering or sorrow.

Thus, Christ’s Revelation to John, despite all of its weirdness and horrifying images and events, is a book of hope. John of Patmos, suffering for following Jesus, was given a message, a vision, a revelation about the HOPE we have in Jesus and that HOPE will one day become a reality that will forever end our current state of hopelessness. How awesome is that?

I challenge you to read the first three chapters of Revelation. How do you fit in with Christ’s assessment of those churches? In what ways can you remove the things that are hindering your relationship with our Lord. Revelation is best read as a mirror, as opposed to a measure for other people. Let us find blessing in the fact that Jesus Christ revealed to John of Patmos the ways in which we all can improve for the glory of God and his coming kingdom.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Look, I am making everything new!” – God (Revelation 21:5, NLT).

PRAYER
Lord, help me to keep my eye on you so that I may not stray from the path you have set me on. Amen.

May 2, 2021 – Sunday Worship Service

Worship service premieres at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)
on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on YouTube.

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Service for May 2, 2021. Today we will be discovering the importance of listening to God and leveling the playing field for others. Let us discover how this 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.