Celebrating God’s Blessings at Ogden Memorial From 2017

Recently, some of our church leaders and I have worked to put together our end of the year reports. The end of the year report is a snapshot of our ministry and work together for the previous year. It is one way we tell the story of the ministry God is enabling us to do in Princeton and throughout our area.

I’m appreciative of Betty Veal and Lisa Shaffer for their tireless work in helping to organize our information. They are both great blessings to our work in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world here in Princeton.

There is much to celebrate as we think back on 2017 and the work God entrusted us with as a church.

One point of celebration comes in increases to our average worship (101 in average worship attendance in 2017) and Sunday School attendance (39 average attendance). This is the first time both our worship and Sunday School numbers had increased in several years. Thank you for your dedication to worship and Sunday School. These are important aspects of how we love God and grow together as a congregation.

As a congregation, we have set a goal to seek further increases in our worship attendance in 2018 by 3 percent. We can reach this goal as we make being in worship a priority for our families, and also as we reach out and invite people we know are not attending worship to join us.

There are other places to celebrate in 2017 as it relates to our outreach into our community. I am thankful for ministries like Marketplace, Build-a-Basket, and others that help share the love of Christ with our community. We interacted with approximately 445 people in 2017 through community outreach events. That number includes Marketplace, Build-a-Basket, Service of Hope, and our Fall Festival.

These ministries help us share the love of Christ in meaningful ways. Our goal is to increase our outreach efforts in 2018 to reach people where they are in our community. One such way will be our Day of Caring on Saturday, April 28, when we will go out into our community to perform community service projects. You will hear more about this great event in the coming weeks.

Finally, I want to celebrate with you how you partner with ministries across Kentucky and around the world to share the love of Christ. As a congregation, we gave more than $26,000 to United Methodist ministries. This includes the Kentucky United Methodist Children’s Home, Camp Loucon, the Western Kentucky Wesley Foundation, Red Bird Mission, and the Thailand Methodist Mission. We also donated approximately $7,000 to help support local ministries, such as at Brightlife Farms and the Hope and Cope Center.

Each of these places is worthy of celebration. I’m looking forward to where God will lead us as a congregation in 2018. I believe Ogden Memorial is ready for a mighty and impactful year in our work of making disciples. It will happen as we build upon the foundation that is here and seek to continue to make disciples and share the love of God together.

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Experiencing God’s Love Beyond the Masks

I love the hit television show “This is Us.” Have you watched it?

The show tells the story of the Pearson family – siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall primarily. It interweaves stories from their childhood, parents, and adult lives to describe who they are and how the different moments from their lives inform who they are today.

What I particularly love about the show, besides that it is one of the best-written shows on network television, is that it is willing to be open about the fact that our lives are more complex than what we like to portray. It doesn’t hide the how Kevin is his father’s son, or how Kate struggles with self-worth, or even how Randall, as the adopted member of the family, wonders about his place in the family. This all while they seek to be an actor, an aspiring singer, or an executive turned stay-at-home dad. The Pearson family is complex and we love them for it.

We love them because we are complex people, yet I wonder if we are open about the complexities of our own life.

Sometimes, if I am being honest with myself, I think we like wearing masks to hide who we are or even our struggles from one another. We like to pretend that we have it all together or that difficult moments do not affect us. We hide our pain and struggles. We hide it from ourselves, our families, and even, yes, God.

In my own life, I know there are things I have hid from God or not completely shared with the Lord out of fear that God would no longer want me. That if I shared with God my struggles or pain that, perhaps, God would see me as a failure and give up on me. I think we all fear that in some way. Would God stop loving me if I was honest about this struggle or pain?

Truth is that is our own projection of God and not the God we see revealed in Scripture. We see in Scripture how God loves us unconditionally and even seeks to bring hope into the places of brokenness. I always love how we see, in story after story, Jesus seeing who people are behind their masks and loving them anyway.

You and I are at our best when we experience God’s love in the places that we often hide from ourselves. We experience growth as disciples when we know that there is a love that accepts us and doesn’t judge us for who we are. God never gives up on us.

I wonder … where do you need to experience that love in your life? Where do you need to know that God loves you no matter what?

Are We Willing to Take a New Direction?

For Christmas vacation, my family and I traveled to West Virginia. Though we have been to the Mountain State hundreds of times to see family and reconnect with my home we decided to take a different route. We took a route that was less familiar, but offered more places to stop (which is an advantage when traveling with a 4-year old).

We didn’t know the route as well as our normal road, but we were confident we knew where we were going. We had family members who had talked about the route and its advantages. We stayed on major highways and interstates. If all that failed us, we had our trusty guide of an in-car navigational system on our phone to keep us going in the right direction.

All of that made taking a different route a simple trip back home to visit family.

What if none of that was available?

Would we still be willing to take a new route to get to the destination? What if we didn’t have family members who had traveled the road before? Would we still take the new road? What if there were no major interstates or highways to make the drive simpler? Would we still take the new road? What if we didn’t have an in-car navigational system?

Would we still take the new road? Continue reading