The Columns – March 2016

LEADERSHIP

Anger is a pervasive problem in our culture today. Business men and women are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not purchase their product or services, and angry at those who do purchase because they aren’t willing to pay the asking price or buy enough. They then take it home where they take out their anger. They then are angry that their family makes them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This anger is taken back into the workplace and the cycle continues.

There is a good anger, an anger which is our response to injustice and destructive activity. It can motivate us to do something positive to make good changes in our world. It gets us off center enough that we take needed action. Anger also tells us a lot about who we are, our hot buttons, our sensitivities, our past and present hurts. However, we must always be cautious of the toxic side of anger.

Anger is a self-protective mechanism that attempts to shield ourselves from what we perceive as emotionally dangerous. Thus, our anger tends to entrench us in our positions and cast blame on others. That leads us to avoid responsibility and not make necessary changes in our own lives. Some people have short fuses and are frequently angry, alienating themselves. Others have a long fuse with a terrible explosion like an atomic bomb creating havoc. Still others have a sputtering vengeful fuse that nurses resentment and builds like a poison in their system. What do we end up with? Patrick Morley writes, ‘Doctors estimate that over 60% of our diseases are caused by emotional stress. The secretions of anger from the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands release their toxins into our bloodstream. Our anger…causes heart attacks, strokes, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, ulcers, and scores of other killer diseases.’

James in his general letters to followers of Christ in Turkey gives us a prescription for how to handle anger. ‘My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires… In your anger, do not sin.’ (James 1:19-20) First, he says we need to listen to one another when we are angry. Instead of tuning the other person out we need to intentionally work to listen better, to make sure we understand the situation and that we are not just reacting to having our buttons pushed. Listening is an act of good faith which keeps communication open. Second, when we are slow to speak, not only do we listen better, but we give ourselves time to cool down. Three seconds, ten seconds, or coming back to the topic at a later time may be what is needed to check your speech. Our unfiltered words that slip off the tongue do the most damage. And, unfortunately, it is not easily undone. As Sally said to Harry, ‘It’s out there! You can’t take it back.’ It is better – and easier – for us to be slow in our speech than to make enemies of those we work with and wound those we love. Third, we should use that passionate, angry response to motivate us to make things right and solve the problem. We need to ‘paint the dragon red’ then slay it. In other words, we need to clarify the problem then call others involved to strategize and overcome it together. That way your anger makes partners in resolving an issue rather than enemies of colleagues and family members.

May God give us all listening ears, slow speech and motivation to solve problems so that in our anger we will not sin.

DR. JONATHAN BECK • Executive Pastor • jbeck@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/men@jonathanbeck

UPCOMING EVENTS
Annual Hal Sutton Golf Tournament • April 21, 2016
Global Leadership Summit • August 11-12
Sporting Clays Tournament • August 28, 2016

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – March

PRAYER

Take some time during the season of Lent to expand your understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. See how this perfect prayer is intended to be applied to your life on a deeply personal level as well as join us together corporately when we pray it in unison in worship. Pray through each phrase for several consecutive days, and ask God to guide you to know yourself and Him with greater clarity! Be blessed.

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

Do you perceive God as a Father figure? What does this title mean for you?
How does the realm of Heaven differ from the realm of Earth?

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

Have we become too casual with our concept of God? How does His holiness bring about our humbleness? Do you revere God? Does His very name create a sense of awe in you? Do you feel the desire to bow or kneel or prostrate yourself before Him? Even closing our eyes in prayer can be an act of humility, signifying that we are not worthy to gaze upon His glory.

THY KINGDOM COME

What is the Kingdom of God? What mental image do you have of His Kingdom? What teachings of Jesus come to mind when you think of the Kingdom? Are there specific areas or places that you feel an urgency for God to dwell?

THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN

What is God’s will? Is it different for different people? How can you personally bring about God’s will on earth?

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

Why do we ask for only one day’s bread? What kind of bread are we asking for? Is it actual bread or metaphorical bread? What special provision do you need to ask for today?

FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS

Is there a difference in asking forgiveness for debts versus trespasses? Does God withhold His forgiveness for us if we refuse to forgive others? Who do you need to forgive? What specific sins of yours do you want to ask forgiveness from Him?

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

What are your weaknesses, the strongholds you face in life that you might name before God? Where do you need His help and guidance to avoid conscious sin?

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

What are the sources of spiritual warfare that you struggle against each day? Are they your own thoughts or perhaps the actions of others? Where do you need Christ to intercede for you today?

THINE IS THE KINGDOM, POWER AND GLORY FOREVER

Why does God deserve to be King in your life? What power does He have? What power do you have? Do you find comfort in knowing that God is almighty, ever-present, all-knowing, and eternal? Thank Him that He never leaves nor forsakes us! Give Him the praise that He deserves. Joy in Him! Love Him.

AMEN!
AND HAPPY EASTER!

TOP TEN PRAYER REQUESTS FOR March
1. Healing from broken bones and back problems
2. Employment and financial security
3. Courage, God’s guidance to navigate major changes in life
4. Success for those in school and training programs
5. Freedom from addictions
6. Revival in our churches and new conversions to Christ
7. Cure for cancer
8. For strong, Christ-centered marriages
9. For our children to have a life-time love for the Lord
10. For those who are grieving the loss of loved ones

WAYS TO LEAD THROUGH PRAYER
• Pray-at-Home
• Small group prayer
• Prayer Room
• Hedge Ministry
• Prayer Shawls
• National Day of Prayer
• Grits and Grace Prayer Breakfast
• Pray for the Cure

DEANA MITCHELL • Director of Women’s & Prayer Ministries • dmitchell@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/prayerfacebook.com/prayerfirstshreveport

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The Columns – March 2016

MENS

You know that physical sensation in the belly you get when you ride a roller coaster? It is fun and exciting because you trust the architect and have faith that you will safely come through on the other side. Anxiety causes the same sensation but is accompanied with the dread of the future and loss of control. Our lives can give us plenty of fodder for anxiety. Anxiety comes from stress of abuse or loss, marital strains, child rearing, work and school deadlines, financial difficulties, and more. And the results can be very unpleasant from pain in the lower back to headaches, restlessness to diarrhea. I told you the results weren’t pleasant! But that can all change when we partner with God to walk through the most difficult circumstances life can throw at us as seen in Philippians 4:4-9.

First, we are told to rejoice in the Lord and to give thanks in our prayers. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always… with thanksgiving…’(Phil 4:4, 5) We need to look around ourselves at the many blessings in our lives. God has given us family and friends who encourage us, resources to provide for our needs, communities of faith to grow spiritually. In doing so we ground ourselves in the goodness of God. We are reminded that he has and is faithful to us and will continue to be in the present situation we face. Paul says we can rejoice because, ‘The Lord is near.’ (Phil 4:5) Have you ever done a trust fall? You rely upon those around you to be close enough and strong enough to catch you. You can trust God to be both near enough and strong enough to catch you and lift you back to your feet when you fall.

Second, Paul tells us to be constant in prayer with the promise that when we do so, ‘The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 4:6) What a great privilege we have to go to the Lord and lay our burdens down. The problem is that we tend to heave them up upon our shoulders when we stop praying. Jesus calls to you, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ (Matt 11:28) Pour out your thoughts and feelings to him and you will be amazed how he will give you insight and guidance as you listen to his voice. Then release your anxiety to him. He will take care of that which you cannot. He will see you through. The peace of God is powerful! It will guard your heart against doubt and despair. His peace will guard your mind against folly and self-criticism. In fact, Paul gives a whole list of the types of things you should feed your mind to find strength and peace: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Check all other thoughts at the door. Our transformation begins with our inner life, out thoughts and prayers. As Paul says in Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.’

Finally, Paul calls us to ‘put into practice’ what we have learned and seen in the lives of others. I can think about how I want to interact with my spouse, change a habit, or exhibit new qualities, but it won’t make a bit of difference until I actually do something about it. In fact, this is where many people fail to change. The do not really intend to change! When we come to Christ we are forgiven but we are not made perfect. The rest of our lives is a growing process in which we will shed the old and put on the new day by day and year by year. Paul promises us that ‘The God of Peace will be with you.’ Notice that Paul is saying that peace is not something that just comes from God but is a core attribute, much like the affirmation that John makes when he writes, ‘God is love.’ When you are trying to put into practice the insight God has given you and the character traits you see in other mature Christians, the God of peace will be with you to help you learn to walk in this new way. Like a mother or father holds the hands of an infant who is trying to walk, God supports and balances us and will not let harm come to us. He doesn’t just give us peace, he IS peace and always be with us as we walk in his way.

If you are facing some anxiety producing situation I encourage you to count your blessings, be constant in prayer, think on good things, and put into practice what you know to be right. You will realize that the Lord is faithfully near, he will guard your heart and mind from turmoil, and he will hold your hand as you walk in the way that leads to life. When you find yourself hyperventilating over life look to the God of peace.

DR. JONATHAN BECK • Executive Pastor • jbeck@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/men@jonathanbeck

UPCOMING EVENTS
Annual Hal Sutton Golf Tournament • April 21, 2016
Sporting Clays Tournament • August 28, 2016

ONGOING STUDIES (Drop-ins are always welcome!)
Tuesdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Goeff Westmoreland
Wednesdays • 6:45AM • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Dr. Jonathan Beck
Thursdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Dr. Jonathan Beck
Fridays • Noon • Progressive Bank, Fern Ave. • Led by Chris Rea

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – March 2016

RECENT EVENTS
RECENTEVENTS_GEMS
GEMs Night Out
“Sno” fooling GEMs Night Out was the place to be! There was a table covered with what looked to be snow. The kids made creative snow-themed crafts, and fun snow-themed games where the snowmen came to life. Bunches of thanks are extended to our teen and adult volunteers and staff for making this a fun evening for everyone. At least three new volunteers joined us which added to the smiles.

RECENTEVENTS_PNO
Parent’s Day Out
How often do you get to come to church in your pajamas? Well, infants through 4th grade enjoyed a Parent’s Night Out with the “Bedtime Stories” theme. The event included active games and relays, creative craft projects, yummy dinner, and lots of time with friends. Hopefully, parents enjoyed a date night or maybe put their feet up for a while their children had fun.

RECENTEVENTS_PIZZAPALOOZA
Pizzapalooza
We had a wonderful event on January 31st called the PIZZAPALOOZA!! It was a night of worship, fun, and lots of pizza. We had over 100 students show up to eat 40 boxes of pizza from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. We played fun games like dodgeball, basketball, and sang karaoke together. It was great to see all of our students also worship Christ together and invite their friends to worship alongside them. Please continue to pray for our students to connect, grow, serve, and lead.

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – March 2016

WOMEN

I remember Mary Magdalene, the Disciple of Jesus. What an incredible privilege it must have been to be among the first of many females to have that title. I want to see Easter through her eyes! I stand in her place in my mind as I approach the tomb where my dear teacher and friend lies dead…beaten, bruised, abused, and scarred after his crucifixion. As I walk down the dusty path, I keep trying to erase the memory from my mind from days earlier of standing near the cross in horror as he was nailed to it. I replay the moment that they stood it up for all to see his nakedness and pain. I held his mother’s hand and had my arm around her shoulders as we wept in disbelief. It was horrible. Truly awful. It went on for hours. I keep hearing the voices of onlookers cheering at his shame, making fun of our God, and taunting him to work a miracle for himself. I could hear him gasping for breath while still calling out in prayer to his Father. I could feel his love for us even when the sky went black.

I shiver as I walk and purposefully shake my head to try to clear my thoughts. Today is about him. I have forever to grieve my loss. Today I need to honor him. I set the basket down that is filled with oils and spices and rest my arms for a moment. Even at the break of day the darkness engulfs me still. I can’t ignore my grief. In my sorrow I heave sad sighs. It hurts so deeply to know his life has ended. Step by step I realize I will never sit at his feet again…share a meal with him again…hear him laugh again. Death is such a final and desolate thing when it happens to someone young…someone full of life and love and wisdom. He deserves to be honored in death. It is the only thing I can do at this point to show my love for him. To prepare his body will be my goodbye. This will be my act of worship, the only gift I have left to give him.

As I glance up, a branch of an olive tree obscures my view slightly, but I push it aside and freeze in my place. Surely not! Surely my eyes deceive me! I grip the basket tighter and quicken my pace, but the closer I get, the more confused I feel. The stone–the stone is moved! We had witnessed his body placed in the tomb. We saw the stone rolled into place. Who could have, would have moved it? I turned to look at the women following behind me. I called to them to hurry! We reached the opening and looked in. I felt sick inside. It was empty. My Lord’s body was not there. The panic and shock that seized me caused me to run as fast as I could to tell Peter. I don’t think he believed me at first. But suddenly, he jumped up, along with the other disciple, and went racing to the tomb. I was determined to stay with them, so I ran back, too.

Peter excitedly went inside the tomb. He saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth lying there. What seemed to be angelic figures appeared…two men, seated at either end of the slab…and one of them spoke: “He is not here. He is risen, just as he said.” Then they were gone. The tomb had an energy about it, not of death, but of the extraordinary. What had happened here? Risen? When did he say that?

The disciples left, except for me. I just needed to sit…to think…to try to fathom who could have stolen the body of Jesus. Why? Why would anyone do that? My grief overwhelmed me and I began to sob. In my selfishness, I was angry that I wouldn’t get to have a final goodbye to even his corpse. In my sorrow, I prayed for a miracle that he would be returned. In my disbelief, I told myself it wasn’t true, someone must have made a mistake. We have to have his body!

“Woman, why are you crying?” I turned, but didn’t see. I just responded that if this man had taken my Lord’s body, to please tell me where he had put him. I wanted nothing more than to care for him…to hold him.

“Mary.” Another wave of shock rolled through my body, my heart almost entirely lodged in my throat! I turned. I saw.

“Rabboni!!” There stands my teacher! Fully present! In a moment in time my soul went from heart-stopping loss to a place of thankfulness and joy and amazement. I am living in a miracle. He’s alive! He’s alive!!

Mary’s story is our story. Jesus meets us in our deepest need. He makes his presence known. He calls us by name. Jesus loves us as women. He loves our hearts and our outlook on life; he loves our emotions and our perseverance. He loves our capacity to love others. He loves how we grieve. He loves how we think. He loves us enough to die for us and then overcome death.

Come feel the energy of the Resurrection. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!

This is what Christ’s love feels like—it’s passionate! It’s alive!

Happy Easter!
Deana Mitchell

DEANA MITCHELL • Director of Women’s & Prayer Ministries • dmitchell@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/women

UPCOMING EVENTS
Pig Roast “Eggs”travaganza • March 20, 2016 • 11:00AM • Rice Family Farm

STUDIES
Tuesdays • January 19 – April 12 • Epic of Eden • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316
Wednesdays • January 20 – April 13 • Epic of Eden • 10:30AM • E&A Room 316
Tuesdays • September 2016 (12 Sessions) • The Letter to the Romans • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316
Wednesdays • September 2016 (12 Sessions) • The Letter to the Romans • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
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The Columns – March 2016

FAITHLINK

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Human One must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” –Luke 24:1-7

One of the most thought-provoking questions in all of scripture is found in this witness account of the resurrection. It is applicable to all of life, especially if we are seeking to experience some form of life-transformation, whether spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, financial or relational. Listen again to the question.

“WHY DO YOU LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?”

The hallmark of the Christian faith is that we declare the resurrection of Jesus the Christ! There is nothing more significant or beautiful than the truth of this historical reality. The fullness of God, pleased to dwell in the person of Jesus, who is Christ our Savior, provided for the whole world a vivid demonstration of life overcoming death. The resurrection of Jesus reveals the promise of God’s faithfulness to rescue the world, and deliver humanity from sin and death into the everlasting glory of a restored creation filled with God’s presence. This is abundant life. And the remarkable gift that the resurrection offers to us is that we can enter this abundant life here and now.

But we must do something to fully experience this new reality. We must stop looking for the living among the dead! We must stop trying to find life by going to the places of death in our lives. The resurrection reminds us that the power of God’s love is strong enough to undo the power of death. And as we trust this love of God, we are also challenged by this question. In our lives, are we still looking for life among the dead? Are we returning to sinful habits thinking that they will give us life? Are we continuing to surround ourselves with things that rob us of life, when God has promised to surround us with His Holy Spirit, to fill us and give us abundant life? Are we still filling our minds with thoughts and images that stand in the way of God’s desire to bring about transformation by the renewing of our minds? Are we holding onto grudges, anger and unforgivness, failing to recognize that God gave the life of His One and Only Son, to offer complete forgiveness for the whole world, including you and me?

“WHY DO YOU LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?”

The resurrection of Jesus is the full measure of God’s restored creation breaking into the world. It is the undoing of death, the fulfillment of the promise of new life. Let us find our abundant life by looking to the author of true life! By the grace of the Living Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, may we stop looking for life among the dead, and learn to walk in the unwavering covenant love of God our Father.

Make sure to take part in these opportunities leading up to Easter Sunday
Pig Roast Eggstravaganza – March 13 starting at 11:00AM at Rice Farm
• Maundy Thursday – March 24 at 6:00PM in the Sanctuary
• Good Friday Musical Offering – 11:00AM in the Sanctuary
• Good Friday Service – 12:00PM in the Sanctuary

Contact Information
REV. DEREK JOYCE • Associate Pastor • djoyce@fumcshreveport.orgfaithlinkfumc.org

HEATHER GUNTER • Director of Contemporary Worship • hgunter@fumcshreveport.orgfaithlinkfumc.org

Stay Up To Date
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• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – March 2016

1ST KIDS

Holy Week provides a challenge for Christian parents: how do we explain the suffering of Jesus? Children always pay attention to things that cause pain, suffering, loss, hurt or death. Take cartoons, for instance. Children will watch Tom and Jerry non-stop if you let them, and if truth be told, many children’s programs have a lot of violent scenes. So children do need adults to help them interpret the pain, suffering, loss, hurt or death they watch, observe, or experience. Without a loving, healthy, and compassionate interpretation from a parent or trusted adult children will internalize and perhaps misunderstand pain, suffering and death.

After Jesus’ jubilant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the events leading toward Jesus’ crucifixion began to unfold, the church call this time Holy Week. On Monday and Tuesday of this week we recall how Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem to teach the people for the last time. It was at that time that Jesus found the money-changers and merchants selling doves at exorbitant prices (read Mark 11:15-19). When people questioned Jesus about who he was, they tried to trick him into saying things against the Roman government, but Jesus could not be tricked! Jesus used wisdom to answer the questions they asked him and his enemies had to think of another way to get rid of him.

Below are several examples of how to explain Jesus’ suffering and death to your children…don’t assume they will understand it all, instead delight in the conversation you are having as you all grow in your faith unpacking Jesus’ life and death.

1. Jesus suffered because there are times when we reject the truth, and choose to do the wrong rather than right thing.

2. Jesus’ death shows that he was willing to die rather than deny the truth of his experience of God.

3. Death happens – everyone will die. Talk to your children about the celebration we have in death, knowing that we will be reunited with them in heaven.

4. Ask your child to explain some of his or her understanding of the death of Jesus. You may learn something.

5. How we live is the most important thing. Jesus lived a life loving God, loving the poor, and telling others that it was more important to be honest, kind, true, good, and forgiving. Some people did not like that. Do they know anyone like that?

6. God did not wish the suffering of Jesus. God does not like to see anybody suffer. However, God does not interfere with our free will. Jesus freely gave his life and human beings freely punished him and killed him.

7. Life is stronger than death, love greater than hate, and hope more powerful than despair. This is what we believe and celebrate. All of Jesus’ suffering, pain and death led to a more forgiving, compassionate, and life-giving world.

Easter Sunday is the greatest Sunday of the church year, for without the resurrection, everything else would have no meaning! Teaching our children about Jesus is exciting and challenging. Keep up the good work for the kingdom of God is near!

Upcoming Events for 1st Kids
Pig Roast Eggstravaganza – March 13 starting at 11:00AM at Rice Farm

• Palm Sunday – March 20 in Traditional and FaithLink Services (1st Kids Procession of the Palms)
At 8:10AM children of all ages will meet in area below the Narthex/Sanctuary to get their palms and go over what will happen. Children will process at the beginning of the service and sit in reserved pews in front. After the children’s message, the children will be escorted to room 207 in the Dawson building for brunch.
At 10:40am children of all ages will meet in the area below the Narthex/Sanctuary to get their palms. Children will process at the beginning of the service and sit in reserved pews in front. After the children’s message, the children will go to children’s church as usual or return to their seats.

• Flowering of the Cross – March 27, Easter Sunday, at 10:00AM
Children who attend Sunday School are invited to bring flowers from home and they will be escorted by their teacher(s) to flower the cross as a group. Members, families, children are invited to bring flowers from home and flower the cross at their convenience. The cross is located near the Eternal Flame between the Sanctuary and Couch Chapel.

Contact Information
STACI ZEAGLER • Elementary (K-4) • szeagler@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

BILLIE TATE • Nursery & Preschool • btate@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

CAROLINE WILKINSON • StepUp (5&6) • cwilkinson@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
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The Columns – March 2016

DISCIPLESHIP

I have been a Christian for most of my life. However I do not think I truly knew what that meant until a few years ago. Throughout my childhood I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday. I was involved in youth group, attended Christian schools and summer camps, and was involved in a campus ministry in college. My attendance at church would fluctuate over the years. When I lived in New York, I was particularly drawn to my faith. In a city with over 8 million people, it could be especially lonely.

Moving back to Shreveport and meeting my future husband was the greatest thing that could have happened to me in my growing faith. We both knew that we wanted to make Christ the center of our relationship and our family. He grew up attending First Shreveport. From the first Sunday we attended worship together, I realized I was at home here also. We quickly got involved in a Sunday school class, Pura Vida started by Mike and Susan Adams.

Recently, we have been blessed to have Leigh and Robert Bowman lead our class through a study of Revelation. It has caused me to want to be more intentional in my relationship with Christ. Robert began teaching from Genesis and went through the Old Testament in order to give us context to understand Revelation. For the first time in my life, I feel like this big, scary book at the end of the Bible is no longer terrifying. It is reassuring. It tells us that evil will not prevail, but receive just judgment while we as a body of believers will be protected. That is the biggest realization that I have ever had about my faith.

I have begun to become more intentional with my study of the Bible because of this study of Revelation. I have started trying to memorize verses for the first time, be more involved in Church activities, and work to become a Disciple of Christ. Our church has many great opportunities to get involved and I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful community of believers.

FEBRUARY GROW OPPORTUNITIES
Memorize
Luke 11:28 – “But Jesus said, ‘blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

Read
First UMC Lenten Devotionals, and the letter of Hebrews this month.

Find an Accountability Partner
Talk and pray about what is going on at home and work.

Go Deeper
Read Hearing God by Dallas Willard – preferably with a friend. This is a great book for the season of Lent to tune our hearts and minds to hear God’s voice giving us direction, insight, wisdom, and assurance. Hearing God is not a trick, but learning the daily disposition of openness.

Act
• Take the Discipleship Survey at members.firstdiscipleship.org. Take 10 minutes to reflect on your understanding of faith and pray about steps you will take to grow this month in wisdom (Your answers are confidential and for your reflection only).

Lead
• Pray for the Costa Rica mission trip (March 26-April 2)

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
• Check out our online events calendar.

The Columns – March 2016

CoverStory

The Easter Season, also known as the Great Fifty Days, begins at sunset Easter Eve and continues through the Day of Pentecost. It is the most joyous and celebratory season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s resurrection and ascension and on the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the first Easter (John 20:22-23) and the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Lessons from the Acts of the Apostles are often read during this season because the early church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is the best witness to the Resurrection. The ancient Christian name for this festival is Pasch, derived from the Hebrew pesah (“deliverance” or “Passover”), thus connecting the Resurrection to the Exodus. The origin of the English word Easter is disputed but may come from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eastre and her festival. Pentecost comes from the Greek pentekoste, which means “fiftieth.” It refers to the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which Greek-speaking Jews called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). Early Christians also used the term Pentecost to refer to the Great Fifty Days as a season.

Baptisms, confirmations, and congregational reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant are highly appropriate throughout this season, most especially at the Service of Easter and on the Day of Pentecost. Confirmation at First Methodist will be on Sunday, April 10, at the 11:00 am traditional worship service.

White paraments, stoles, and banners are used during the season of Easter. On the Day of Pentecost red is used. A large freestanding white candle called a paschal candle is used at every service during the season of Easter in some churches.

Make your plans to join the church in worship during the season of Easter, March 27, to the Day of Pentecost, May 15.

Make sure to take part in these opportunities leading up to Easter Sunday
Pig Roast Eggstravaganza – March 13 starting at 11:00AM at Rice Farm
• Palm Sunday – March 20 in Traditional and FaithLink Services (1st Kids Procession of the Palms)
• Maundy Thursday – March 24 at 6:00PM in the Sanctuary
• Good Friday Musical Offering – 11:00AM in the Sanctuary
• Good Friday Service – 12:00PM in the Sanctuary

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The Columns – March 2016

PatsPerspective

Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem focused the entire city’s attention on his Messiahship, so that wherever he went during the final week of his life crowds followed him. Jesus basically flung down the gauntlet to his enemies. It defined who he was and what he had come to do. His enemies could stand a lot, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When Jesus began to publically acknowledge that he was the Messiah this was the one intolerable thing they cannot stand for any longer. Jesus was issuing a challenge to the religious establishment. Every hosanna drove a nail in the cross. Let the powers of evil do their very worst and God’s power would defeat them. He was the Lord’s anointed one. He was the one who was more than prepared to handle their best shots.

But as Jesus and his entourage wound their way around Olivet, the city suddenly came within vision and Jesus stopped and looked intently at the city. To their amazement the disciples saw tears running down Jesus’ cheek as he wept over the city. His heart was aching for the stubbornness, the hardheartedness, the spiritual blindness of the city that he loved. They did not realize that he was foreseeing Jerusalem’s future when the city would be destroyed. Does he still weep over the cities of the world today? I believe Jesus weeps over the poverty in our cities, the homeless people living on the streets. His heart breaks when he sees little children grow up in a slum with little hope for the future. Jesus weeps over the crime in our cities, where gangs ruthlessly rule with fear and intimidation. His heart is broken by the sins of the city – the filth, the evil, and the oppression. Many churches have pulled out of the downtown areas and fled to the suburbs allowing the heart of the city to become a cesspool of crime and evil. But our church has remained strong and continues to fight for what is right, just, and good in the heart of the city. I believe that Jesus still weeps over the city.

When Jesus went to Jerusalem he did so because it was God’s will. Jesus was a person who dealt with reality, and not with illusions. On one occasion Peter objected and tried to prevent Jesus from going but Jesus emphatically stated that he must go, that it was God’s will for him to do so. Jesus was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God’s will for him to go. He also knew that his death would be overcome by the resurrection. Jerusalem was to be the site of man’s salvation. All of history moved toward this crucial moment of reconciliation. Jesus could have turned away from Jerusalem and gone back to Nazareth and lived in a safe comfortable position as a teacher or carpenter. But he would not have been the savior of the world. Many Christians are troubled because they have turned away from their Jerusalem’s, for which they were born. Compromise, convenience, conditional discipleship had destroyed their commitment to do God’s will and instead have chosen to do their own.

We too have our own personal Jerusalem’s – a person, a problem, or perplexity we would rather not face. Like Jesus, there is something or someone that we would rather not deal with or face. It would be very difficult if not impossible to confront. The risen Lord comes along and says to us, “I will go with you to your Jerusalem. We will go through it together as I faced mine so many years ago.”

Our Lord faced his Jerusalem with courage, confidence and with supreme trust in his heavenly Father. When we encounter our personal Jerusalem’s we must do exactly the same thing. Who or what is your Jerusalem? How are you facing it at this moment? Rest assured that the God of restoration and resurrection will give you the power to be victorious now as well as in the hereafter.

See you Sunday in church!

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
• Check out our online events calendar.