To learn more about the Reeves Center, email Denise Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever caught your dinner? When I was ten, my father took me charter fishing on Lake Michigan. If you have been to Lake Michigan you know it’s a GREAT BIG lake. Thousand miles around. Waves can get over twenty feet. That afternoon I caught my first Coho salmon. A solid 8 pounder. We took it home and ate it for dinner. And it was delicious! No offense to my vegetarian friends, there is something about catching your supper that brings satisfaction.
Have you ever been caught for dinner? It’s a silly question considering you are still here watching this. But my favorite book in the Old Testament is Jonah. There is so much in just a few pages that even though I have been studying it for years, and I am still discovering hidden gems in it. You know the story. Jonah is a prophet who has been called by God to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah doesn’t want to go. So, he boards a ship and heads in the opposite direction. Cue the large storm. Jonah being thrown over the side. And a GREAT FISH sent by God. Now the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17
Sometimes preachers will jump through all kinds of hoops to explain this part of the story. They discuss fish size. They point to various examples of folks being swallowed by a fish. And explain different ways someone might possibly survive. But here is the thing. The Book of Jonah is not a history textbook. It’s a theological allegory. It’s a story that makes a point about God. The question isn’t if someone can live inside of a fish. The real question is this: what do you do when a GREAT FISH has swallowed you?
The truth is, at some point or another, we all encounter our whale. A challenge, a threat, an overwhelming problem that swallows us up. It might be health. It might be grief. It might be financial crisis. It might be loneliness. It might even be this difficult season of isolation during the pandemic.
The Good News is that God is greater than the Great FISH that swallowed Jonah! The Bible says that the Lord commanded the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. And God is greater than any GREAT FISH that we will encounter! God is not confined by our isolation. God is not limited by a lack of resources. God can overcome the darkest of places. Even the belly of a whale at the bottom of the ocean. As resurrection people, we know that God is not even stopped by death. Thanks be to God!
Again, the question is, what will you do when a GREAT FISH swallows you up? Jonah prayed. Specifically, he prayed the Scriptures. Eight times in ten verses he quotes the Psalms. What threatens to swallow you today? What is causing your life to stink? Where do you feel out of options? Talk to God about it. And as you do, draw on phrases from the Psalms. Phrases like – In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me (Psalm 120:1).
Some scholars argue that Jonah didn’t start praying until after three days and three nights. But I think Jonah had barely cleared the tonsils before he began to talk to God. There is something about being in the belly of a whale that brings perspective. And there is something about prayer that opens us up to the power of God. The apostle Paul says that the very power that raised Christ from the dead is available to us as followers of Jesus!
It is my prayer that as we continue in this season of isolation, God will fill you with His resurrection power and deliver you! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo. We can’t wait to celebrate Mother’s Day with you in worship!
The Peterson family shared their worship experience during Holy Week! For them, Thursday night involved laying outside and hanging on the dome climber while meditating with Jesus in the garden. Good Friday was done during dinner by candlelight. And, Easter Sunday was celebrated in their living room with communion and coloring. Thank you to the Peterson’s for sharing your story and worshiping with us even at home!
We love hearing from our church family. Share your experience by emailing email@example.com.
*Technical difficulties led to twice deleted audio files. Look for audio devotion coming soon!
Happy Monday! Here are some of the best articles around the Christian web right now.
- Tish Harrison Warren is one of my favorite Christian writers today. In this article she clearly and without apology lays before us as readers implications of the resurrection on our faith in Christ. And though it is a day late, a little extra meditation on the empty tomb always does the soul good!
- N.T. Wright addresses the, “Why God?” of this Coronavirus season without a trite answer, but an invitation to faithful lament. View the article here.
- Lastly, the best I have read in terms of organizational leadership in our Coronavirus reality is by Andy Crouch. It is written from a Christian perspective, but equally relevant across many different sectors. In this article, Crouch lays out the reality that for the vast majority of organizations, that to move forward means to approach this season as a start up. Crouch invites leaders to look not just at the ‘blizzard’ conditions in which we find ourselves, but also forward to the “winter” which is coming. (A heads up, this one is a little long but absolutely worth the read)
- A quote I have been meditating on: “When the grace of Jesus sinks in, we will become the least offensive and least offend able people in the world.” – Scott Sauls (Lord, may it be so!)
~Rev. Craig Blocher
Show us how your family is celebrating Easter Sunday! Kids, during the Easter live-stream service, color the “He is Risen” flower cross and take a picture of your family with the piece of art. Post your pictures on social media and tag us @fumcwp and #FUMCWPonline or #FUMCWPfamily.
We want to see how you are spending this special day with your family at home. Happy Easter!
I used to play. Donated lots of dollars to the cause. Set aside large chunks of time to the pursuit. Had all the right equipment. Took lessons. Even watched others play on TV. After all, aren’t preachers supposed to play golf? It’s in the job description isn’t it? Truthfully, I was always frustrated. I like to excel. But no matter how hard I tried, how much I played I was terrible. I was a lot like Jeff Foxworthy. He once said that every time he went golfing, they would have to check him for ticks. Because he would spend half the day in the woods! So, I gave it up. Gave away the clubs. Haven’t stepped on a green since.
Even so, its golf that I am thinking about today. In particular, a little golfing practice called the mulligan. A mulligan, as you know, is basically a do-over. An extra shot every 9 holes or so that isn’t counted on the scorecard. I once heard Rick Warren give a sermon about this. And how God wants to give us a mulligan. Warren’s analogy is a bit limited theologically. But the premise is solid. Our God doesn’t keep a scorecard. His goal isn’t for us to get things exactly right. Our God is God of second chances. And fourth chances and five hundred chances.
God gave Moses a second chance after he committed murder. God gave Sampson another chance after he confessed the source of his strength to Delilah. And God gave David a second chance after committing adultery. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and preach against it. Jonah didn’t want to go. So he gets on a ship and sails in the opposite direction. A storm, a big fish, three nights of prayer and one disgusting exit. And then, Jonah chapter 3:1 – the word of the Lord came to Jonah a SECOND TIME. Even though he had rebelled and ran away, God gave Jonah a second chance.
It’s Good Friday. On this day-long ago, Jesus was nailed to a cross. Something Jesus willingly endured to show us how deep and wide God’s love is for us. Along the way, Jesus demonstrated again and again God’s mercy and grace. Towards the crowds, the religious leaders and the soldiers who crucify him. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Towards the thief who hung on the cross next to him. Today you will be with me in paradise. And to Peter. Despite his pledge of faith, denying Jesus three times. But God gives Peter a second chance. When Easter morning comes the angel at the tomb specifically instructs Mary to go and tell the disciples AND PETER that Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee.
And that gives me hope! How many times have I have disobeyed God’s will in my life? How many times have I turned my back on His presence? Created other idols before Him? Sought my own way rather than God’s way? How many times have I caused hurt to others, was careless with God’s blessings, ignored God’s word and hoarded God’s grace? The truth is I need a God of second chances. I need a God of the Mulligan!
I think it was Bob Hope who said – I went to play golf once. I tried to shoot my age. But shot my weight instead (http://www.golfjokes.com/quotes/). I try to do what is right. Live a love for others. But I inevitably fall short. I shoot my weight instead of my age. What about you? Where do you fall short of God’s call? Where do you struggle to show love? In what areas do you need a do-over? Thanks be to God for Good Friday. Thanks be to God that our God is the God of the second chance!
God bless you on this most important day! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
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Over the past year, church leadership and the worship ministry have worked to evolve our contemporary worship service. If you regularly attend our contemporary service at 9:30am, you’ve likely noticed that we have rotated various worship leaders. Each leader is gifted with special talents and a unique worship style. Our church is intentionally investing in this new approach to worship. We are focused on identifying Worship Team Leads who dedicate their time to building lay worship teams. The idea is that each worship team rotates service responsibilities while engaging and growing our congregation – ultimately developing together spiritually.
We are pleased to share that Chev Lovett has accepted the position of Contemporary Worship Team Leader. The role means that Chev will serve as one of the Team Leads but will also identify other potential Team Leads. We are pleased to share that Jason Bailey is also a new Team Lead. Join us in officially welcoming Chev and Jason into their new roles within our church family.