March through Lent

lentAs we begin the season of Lent on March 1st here at Laurel Hill UMC at 7:00 PM, I encourage you to make these days “a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”. (Acts 3: 19) Be immediate and active in your obedience and “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10: 24 – 25)


To help you with this, here is our March newsletter and calendar! Don’t forget to get your tickets for our final Mission Auction and Dinner, set for March 11th. Craft rooms open at 4:30 PM. Dinner begins being served at 5:00 PM. Live Auction starts at 6:30 PM.

March 12th, the Kean University Choir will be our special guests during the 11:00 AM service.

The Virginia Choristers will be with us during the 11:00 AM service on March 26th and share a concert with us after lunch that day at 1:30 PM.

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Love Constrains Us

compeledThe Bible speaks of how the love of God draws everything and everyone in our lives down to a singular relationship with Jesus. We don’t live for ourselves. We live so that others would know what the crucifixion and resurrection means for them. But, the Apostle Paul says their is something more ontological that we need to know that shapes our faith and witness as an ambassador for Jesus Christ and that raises the dead to life.

It comes from reading 2 Corinthians 5: 14. “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

What are the implications of all being dead? What has to happen for all (or anyone) to go from being dead to being alive? For that, we’re going to tell the story of love from John 3: 13 – 21.

State the Facts: “No one has ever gone (ascended) into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”There are two groups of humanity. The first group is ‘the all’ who cannot ascend into heaven. The second group consists of the One who can.

Share the Faith: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

See the Future: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Show a Singular Focus: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Start the Funnel: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The Simple Framework: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that the works they have done that they are wrought in God.”

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Compelled by Love!

compeledPlease check out our February newsletter and calendar.

Don’t miss a single reason why we are compelled to live as ambassadors for Jesus Christ!

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Set Aside Time

snowfirstThe snow had just started when Karen’s cousin, Matt Mason posted this yesterday. We are praying for everyone at home today in the snow. It’s 22 degrees and snowing and feels colder because of the wind. But, if it makes you feel better, it’s minus 11 in White Lake, Wisconsin where Hannah and Ava are this morning.
As we are set aside because of the snow this weekend, I would recommend a few things if things get cancelled.

1. Set aside the time you were going to be in Sunday School and District Leadership Training on Sunday and use that same amount of time to read and meditate upon the Scriptures.

2. Set aside your tithes and gifts that you would have given or put on the altar rail and save it for the opportunity to share later.

3. Set aside that time you would have been in corporate worship to listen to good, Biblical preaching on TV or better yet sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to each other making up a melody in your heart to the Lord.

Use this time you are set aside by the snow to bless the Lord and rely upon Him. Don’t forget to check on your neighbors. Love you.

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First Day Revelation

soapjournalToday’s “Through-the-Bible Reading Plan” had me in Genesis 1 and 2 and in Luke 1. The Scripture that stood out in that reading was Genesis 1: 4 and Luke 1: 3. The Observation I made was of God’s work of separation. God takes great care and gives repetitive examples of making a distinction between what is good and what is bad, but also between what is good and what is not as good.

Jesus does this when he tells Martha “but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 42) Mary had chosen to listen to what Jesus said. Martha was busy doing other good things.

God continually asks us to prioritize what we’re doing. This is the purpose of keeping repentance and faith together. Repentance makes the distinction between the choices we have and aligns us with what is better. Faith gives us the power to follow up and follow through.

The Application for me to do this is spelled out in Luke 1: 3 where Luke confesses. “With this in mind …. I decided to write.” This is my first day revelation. I expect yours to be different and framed by what God is asking of you. For me, right before I started reading the Bible, I was challenged by a quote from the writer, Jodi Picoult. “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

We are not allowed to leave our days blank, to make no distinction between the light and the dark. We are not allowed to simply watch the days go by and call it God’s will, make it our excuse for not doing what we know to do.  God makes these distinctions and it is incorporated into all of creation. God commands us to incorporate it into what we do.

My Prayer: Lord, let no day this year lie blank between us. For my part, I will strive to listen and write down what I hear you say. For your part, speak! Speak your Word clothed in fire, formed in grace, wrapped up in swaddling bands, and laid within my soul.  In the most holy name – Jesus. Amen.

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Reading through the Bible in 2017 with our Bishop Sharma Lewis

bishopsharmalewisI know many of you are excited, like me, that we’ve been asked by our Bishop, Sharma Lewis to read through the Bible in 2017. This may be a new experience for many of you and you might think it too great a challenge. I can assure you, you can develop a habit of reading the Bible and responding to it that will lift your spirit, renew your mind, and train your body in righteousness.

To move through this process I recommend you order a Life Journal. Click to learn more about using the Life Journal or using a journal as part of your devotional life as you listen to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Church. lifejournalhabit

I urge you to find someone who is committed to reading through the Bible and ask them to be your friend in this process and help each other stick with it. Developing the habit together not only may make it easier, it will become a more valuable experience as you share in the application of God’s Word in your life.

I also urge you to follow this blog throughout 2017 and encourage your friends to do so, as well. I’ll be sharing how to follow Jesus up the pathway of grace, sharing some from my devotional journal, and alerting you to resources that will build up your faith and direct you into becoming a greater blessing to others.

P.S. Read the Laurel Hill United Methodist Church newsletter and calendar.

P.S.S. Read the Norman Ramsey Ministries Year End newsletter, The Pathway of Grace.

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Finishing 2016, Starting 2017

How can you make the end of a year a point of breakthrough instead of just a place you start over? Realize God is drawing us forward to repentance. Now is not the time to substitute regret for things undone with repentance of dead works. When we repent, we are aligning ourselves with the new grace and mercy God is giving us today.

What’s the one thing God is fervently stirring you to do? Let every other resolution or goal reflect that priority. You may pursue multiple goals but what you won’t let yourself do is change the order of those goals until God commands you to do it. I’ll repeat that to remind you: We may pursue multiple goals but we won’t change the order of those goals unless God commands us.

Don’t fall into the trap of your day determining your actions. Instead, let’s make sure our actions determine the day! And, let’s make sure our actions reflect our priority.

Remember, God has assured us of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the instruction of His Word to conform us into the image of His Dear Son. Let us remember to follow.

Norman Ramsey

P.S. Don’t fall into the trap of having priorities – plural. Have a priority. Do it first and then everything else can get in line after that.seekfirst

P.S.S. Read the Laurel Hill United Methodist Church January newsletter and calendar.

P.S.S.S. Read the Norman Ramsey Ministries 2016 Year End newsletter and be blessed as you move into 2017!

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