Asbury United Methodist Church, Cinnaminson, NJ
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

From the Desk of Pastor John (cont'd) - page 2


To read Pastor John's message, just click on the issue below:

 

Fall, 2008
 
A Note from Pastor John
Dear Members and Friends,

Since our last Newsletter (Summer Issue), many exciting things have been happening at Asbury

-We moved into our new Sanctuary on August 17th and have quickly become accustomed to the extra room and blessing God has given us in our Worship Services.

-The day after our first worship service, we hosted VacationBibleSchool with over 100 children and forty volunteers each day! Again, it was great to be in our expanded facilities, and especially to be able to share our blessing with the Community so quickly (see article regarding VBS).

-In our new Chapel/Parlor we have held Adult Sunday School classes, Bible Studies, and the September UMW meeting.

-In the lower level, our new Fellowship Hall is bright and roomy. It is a wonderful place to gather, particularly after Church for our koinonia time (a Greek word for Christian fellowship). Children's Church and the Asbury Choir are now using the new classroom adjoining the Fellowship Hall. Our new kitchen is "state-of-the-art."

-There are four additional handicapped accessible bathrooms in the addition as well as a brand new Otis elevator, making anywhere in the Church easy to reach.

-Much of the older Church building has been refurbished. Offices have been added and expanded as well as many other building improvements which have been completed.

-Members, friends, and visitors to our Church have been overwhelmingly positive when they walk through and see the beautiful addition to Asbury.

 

Overall, God has blessed us in this building process and we are thankful for what the Lord has done. Please be with us for our Consecration Service, October 25th at 6:00 PM. Our Bishop, Sudarshana Devadhar and District Superintendent, Bob Smith will also be present with us along with our members and many friends for this very special worship service.

 

We remember the words of Jesus:

       "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."
                                                                                                    Matthew 16:18. To God be the Glory!

 
In His Amazing Grace,
  Pastor John       



Summer, 2008
 
A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
Dear Members and Friends,
I will never forget the Saturday morning in the spring, several years ago when we gathered in our Fellowship Hall to discuss our upcoming building plans. At the end of the meeting, Rev. Bob Costello, our Conference Stewardship and Development Coordinator said that it would be helpful for us to have a slogan. Very quickly, the line "It's Happening" was agreed upon.
As it has often been said, a picture is worth a thousand words!
God has blessed us and continues to bless us in many ways. What was once just a vision is now becoming a reality. In our ground breaking service in December, 2006, the following prayer was offered  
 
That a church may meet here where youth shall be inspired to pray and serve. We break this ground today. 
That a church may meet here where the weary and heavy laden shall find inner peace that the world can neither give nor take away. We break this ground today.
That a church may meet here where God is worshiped in prayer and praise, where the Word of God shall be so read and preached that it shall become the living Word, and the Sacraments so celebrated that all life shall become Sacramental. We break this ground today.
That a church may meet here where multitudes shall be refreshed in spirit, relieved from pain, released from bondage, and redeemed from sin. We break this ground today.
That a church may meet here where the grace of God may make our human lives into a Christlike love and our homes places of living witness for that realm where Christ is Lord.
We break this ground today.
That a Church may meet here from which, by the power of your Holy Spirit, your people are sent forth into this community and all the world as champions of justice and peace to all peoples. We break this ground today.
(UM Book of Worship)
 
Dear Lord, may it be so, according to your Word.
 
In His Amazing Grace,
  Pastor John       

 
P.S. It has been great to worship in the new Fellowship Hall! Stay tuned for the date of our first Sunday in the new Sanctuary and the date of our Consecration celebration which will take place in the Fall!

 
 
A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
 
Dear Members and Friends,
For me, Lent is a time of new beginning and re-centering our lives on Jesus. Traditionally, this has meant praying more, giving more, or giving something up to gain something greater (i.e. fasting, self-denial). Historically, Lent began as a period of time (40 days, not including Sundays beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday) of fasting and preparation by converts. Later, Lent became a time of sorrow for sin with a firm purpose to be changed by God (i.e. penance).
The new beginning that Jesus offers to each of us is often found in the struggles of life. In the things of life big and small, we need Jesus. We need His saving presence, His healing forgiveness, and His guidance. All of these wonderful gifts are offered in the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord. In the final analysis, I believe Lent reminds us
to        
PAY ATTENTION TO JESUS.
Recently, I came across the following story._
Pastor Glen Barnes of the First Baptist Church of Lodi, California tells about an unbelievable experience he had some time back Barnes' church was hosting a couple of visitors, two women, from
Lesotho, Southern Africa. According to Barnes these two women have an incredible ministry caring for the poor and sick in South Africa, especially those suffering from AIDS. Unfortunately, this ministry was taking a toll on them physically, emotionally and spiritually. In fact, one of the women shared with Barnes in confidence that she was really struggling, feeling burned out and wondering if it was time to move on to another ministry As they talked about trying to hear God's voice, she said that sometimes she just wished God would write it on the sky. Then she would know whether she was doing God's will or not.
Later that very same day Barnes and these two ladies went on a little sight-seeing tour of San Francisco. They went out on a boat onto San Francisco bay. They went by Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. "It was gorgeous," Barnes reports.
About half way out on their journey, they heard a rumbling like thunder in the sky and they looked up and right above them flew the Blue Angels, the acrobatic team of Navy jets, that entertain for special events. The two African women looked terrified and one asked Barnes if America was under attack. He reassured them that it was just a show.
As part of the magnificent aerial demonstration, one of the planes took off over the city, turned its smoke stream on and went straight up, and began skywriting. What it wrote was not a word or a sentence, but a symbol. The jet left floating, written in the sky, a big AIDS ribbon_ Pastor Barnes looked over at his new friend who was struggling with her work back home attending to AIDS sufferers. He had chills up and down his spine when he saw the ribbon in the clouds. She literally had tears running down her face as it seemed God, on this occasion, had literally written His answer to her in the sky.
Whether God speaks to you in the sky or in His Word, in a song, a story, through a friend, as you pray, in Church, or some other way, Jeremiah 29: 13 puts it best...."When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart"
Have a Holy Lent and Resurrection Season!
 
Tart from Dynamic, Preaching April 2007
In His Amazing Grace,
  Pastor John 
 (return to Top)     
 
   
 
Winter/Christmas 2007
 
A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
Dear Members and Friends,
Recently I came across the following story. Please read on and enjoy    
Once there was an old man in a small town. He was an ill-tempered recluse who avoided his neighbors at all costs. Most people give up on these folks, leaving them to rot in their self-imposed loneliness. But every once in a while, love steps in and turns the situation upside down.
One Thanksgiving season, the youth group from a small West Virginia town decided to do a good deed for this cranky, unfriendly old man. The old man had been injured in a farming accident. He was facing a harsh winter with a dwindling supply of firewood. The teens decided to cut enough firewood to fill the man's wood bins for the winter. They gathered in the woods that night, their pick-up trucks brimming over with firewood. Just as they were placing the last few logs in the wood bins, the old man suddenly jerked open his front door, his shotgun aimed into the night.
"Don't shoot us!" the youth leader said. "We just came to help you with your
wood."
The old man looked at his overflowing wood bins and growled, "I don't need any help_ Get out of here!"
Later, the teens discussed their act-of-kindness-gone-wrong with the youth leader. Why would God ask them to do good works for those who don't appreciate it?
A few weeks later at the Christmas Eve service, the whole congregation noticed when the cranky old man walked in the door. During the prayer time, the pastor asked if anyone had some thanksgiving to share. The old man stood and began, "A little over a month ago, I ran a group of kids off my property...." His voice faded, as his eyes overflowed with tears. The love of Jesus had broken through the old man's defenses. This is what Christmas is all about..love.
Isn't it refreshing that the love of Jesus continues to break through our defenses to give us abundant life!
Merry Christmas!
 
Dynamic Preaching: Oct/Nov/Dec, 2007, Vol XXII, No 4
 
In His Amazing Grace,
  Pastor John       
 

 
A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
 
Dear Members and Friends,
Recently I came across a tragic, yet very moving story in one of my preaching journals*. Please read on....
In December, 1997, a young man in West Paducah, Kentucky, took a gun to school and killed seven of his classmates. Parents came from all over the community, frantically praying a parent's most heartfelt prayer: Not my child. Please don't let anything happen to my child.
Timothy J. Kennedy tells the story of one mother whose prayer was not answered that day. Her son died in the shooting. In spite of her shock and grief, the mother didn't hesitate when doctors asked if she would donate her son's organs to someone else in critical need.
Many months passed and the mother discovered that some of her son's organs went to a Methodist pastor. She contacted him and asked to meet.
The day of their meeting, the grieving mother and the grateful pastor talked and prayed and celebrated the life of the precious son who died. The mother asked one last question: "Can I put my ear to your heart? Can I hear my son's heart beating, one more time?"
Isn't this mother's story similar to God's story in our lives? Indeed, when God wants to hear His Son's heart beat, He can put His ear to our chest. Christ died that we may live_ That's how loved we are. When we accept Jesus into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, we are recipients of a heart transplant! We are living a new life! It is Jesus' heart beating in our chests!
May we experience Jesus' beating heart in each of our lives, and moreover, may we reach out to a hurting world that needs Him just as much as we do.
May Jesus' heart beat strong in every life that is surrendered to Him!
 
*Special thanks to Dynamic Preaching, Oct/Nov/Dec, 2007, p.59
 
In His Amazing Grace,
  Pastor John       
  A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
 
Dear Members and Friends,
  

As an adult, I still remember special times in my childhood. Summer was a fun time and an opportunity to be out of the normal routine of going to school. One of my favorite recollections is of my grandparents (on my mother's side) who would come up for a "day visit." I say a "day visit" because Grandmom liked to get home before nightfall. It was always a pleasant surprise to see their car parked in the driveway. It is in the context of one of these "day visits" that I share the following story ....

Near our home was a summer recreation program in the local elementary school that ran from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon daily. Mom strongly encouraged us to attend, which, in our household meant that we went. At summer recreation there were activities, games and of course, "arts and crafts." To this day, I still might have a "plaster of Paris" choir boy somewhere in my possession had it not blown up in the kiln However, one day in a more successful venture, I made an "Indian bracelet" consisting of a flexible band of metal wrapped in strings of beads that were provided. It was a fun craft project. I even made the flexible band big enough to allow for growth. I couldn't wait to show my Mom! Coming home I was even more thrilled when I saw my Grandparent's car in the driveway! An even bigger audience for my "Indian bracelet."

Running inside the house, I showed my grandmother the bracelet and immediately knew what I needed to do. I said, "Grandmom this is for you." After gently declining at first (Don't you want to have it since you made it?"), Grandmom graciously accepted the bracelet. I then told her about the added special feature, "Grandmom, there's even room for you to grow into it." To which Grandmom gave me a quick reply, "Boy, rm trying to shrink up." --I still smile when I think of her playful and witty response!

Indeed, my Grandmother's answer was not far from a Scripture (2 Corinthians 4.16) which speaks to this reality...."So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting way, our inner nature is being renewed day by day." Indeed, we all face aging and as well as other limiting factors in life. At the same time, God speaks of daily renewal in our living. Our bodies may shrink up, but faith, hope. and love are to be constantly growing in our lives!

Some time ago at a Pastors' Prayer Summit, a very distinguished Baptist pastor of a large inner city Church took me aside and said, "Very few pastors have the opportunity to be a part of building a Church." I have not forgotten these words! I believe these words also extend to every member and friend of Asbury. Very few people have the privilege of being a part of a Church that is building. Sadly, many churches are shrinking up! Praise the Lord, we are growing!

What an exciting time in the life of our Church as we see ourselves under construction. In Jesus, this new building is to be an outward and visible sign of the expanding faith, hope, and live that is alive in each of us!

As we see continuing progress on God's building, please pray every day for Asbury United Methodist Church that we may be a part of what God is doing; particularly, that we may be a visible and caring sign of faith, hope, and love to a world that needs Jesus.

In His Amazing Grace,
         Pastor John
     (return to Top)
 

Lent, 2007

 
  A Note from Pastor John
It's Happening!
Dear Members and Friends,

Recently, I heard an excellent message entitled "The Critical Transaction"* by Gordon MacDonald. Here is an excerpt. Read on and be blessed!

 At the boiling point of Jesus' public message, the key word will be "repent". You'll see it over and over again in the Gospels. It means "change"---acknowledge that what you are, what you have been, where you are going needs change.

I think in business terms you would call this the critical transaction. As I have listened to people analyzing business transactions, I've come to an awareness of this term. It simply means that there is one single event that all businesses need to have happen that legitimizes or justifies everything else they do.

For example, in the airline business, the critical transaction is not when the plane takes off, not when the mechanic fixes the plane. No, the critical transaction is when someone buys a plane ticket. It sounds so simple. But if people do not buy plane tickets, nothing else can happen. The critical transaction happens at the counter.

Interestingly, businesses often pay the people responsible for the critical transaction the lowest salaries and give them the poorest training. Now, the critical transaction in a church, what would that be?

...I've come to the conclusion that the critical transaction in a church comes the moment someone says, "I want to or need to change".

Until someone says Jesus' words, "I repent" or "I want to change", there is really nothing of value a church can do for someone. It can entertain people, I suppose. It can inform people. But this is not what a church is constructed to do.

A church is meant to be a place where the power of Almighty God can be felt through the strength of the preaching of the Gospel, but it can only make sense in the heart, in the mind, through the ears of the person who says, "I need to change and grow". The church can't do anything for unrepentant people.

A favorite personal prayer of mine is simply this..."Lord, where I am on the right road, keep me there. And Lord where I need to change, help me to change".

Among many good things that will be said about our church, I pray that the headliner for many will be this..."Asbury is a place where God helped me to change and grow".

*Copyright 1996, Gordon MacDonald used with permission.

 
In His Amazing Grace,
         Pastor John