Begin with the End in Mind

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. You may have noticed the lesser-known holiday, Valentine’s Day, coincided with the beginning of Lent this year. I’ve been joking with people that “Nothing says romance like a reminder of our finite nature!” (Admittedly, some find this funnier than others.)

One of the texts that we read in the service yesterday evening was Psalm 51. There are three particular verses in this Psalm that I just love. Listen to verses 10-12:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Reflecting on this, I invite you to ask yourself these three questions.
1) Is there anything you need to confess for God to create a clean heart in you?
2) Where do you consistently feel the presence of God?
3) When was a moment when you realized the joy of your salvation?

Pray over these verses. Think on what needs to be confessed. Think on where you encounter God. Think on the moments of your salvation. May all of these draw you into a deeper relationship with Jesus this Lenten season.

God Bless,
Jeff Rogers

Words for the Journey

My favorite psalm is Psalm 121 (I hope you will take a moment and read it). It has been called “A Psalm for Sojourners,” and was sung as the Jews journeyed to Jerusalem for religious celebrations. In verse 5, the psalmist gives beautiful images of our Lord as our Keeper, our Shade, and our Protector. These images tell us that God loves us so much that He is going to care for us as we walk through this journey called life. Things are going to happen on this journey that are difficult, there will be days when we need a shield to protect us from circumstances, people, and our own struggles. There will be times when we will need to rest by the cool shade of an oak tree on a very hot, sunny day. When difficulties arise, when we need to feel peace and rest, it is a comfort to know that God is there with oak tree or that protecting shield. What images of God help you as you journey through life? Take a moment and write them down. Maybe you see God as Shepherd, gathering us together. Or maybe you see God as Teacher, showing you the way. Whatever those images are, they help ground you in your faith and deal with the issues that come your way.
I hope that you will take a moment and reflect on how God helps you in all circumstances – maybe you have had a tough time with an illness or lost a family member or friend. Maybe God has opened a new way for you and there is much excitement in your life. Whatever comes your way, know that God is always there for you, loving, caring, protecting, shading, gathering, and teaching you on this journey of life. Amen.
God Bless,
Rev. Carol Cook

Holy Ground

Holy Ground

The snow outside my window is beautiful. The snow represents a day off of school. The snow causes a temporary pause to activities in the church building. The snow forces me to take pause and interrupts my regular routine.

I find that God loves to take advantage of opportunities when we are not in control of everything to remind us who He is. I love my routine, and when situations occur that put me out of control, I can get frustrated or flustered easily. It is in those moments that God reminds me that no matter what situation is going on around me, He will be with me.

The snow outside my window reminds me how the ground we walk every day can be holy ground. Yesterday morning we read the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses was going about his routine when God appeared and told him “the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) Suddenly, Moses was outside of his comfort zone, but God reassured him that in the midst of fear, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)

I hope this snow has reminded you that the ground we walk is holy ground. I hope it changes up your routine just enough to remind you that God is with you in every situation. 

God Bless,

Jeff Rogers

Welcome to 2018

Welcome to 2018 – a new year filled with new possibilities and opportunities. As I put up new calendars this week, I thought about all the things that will happen over the next twelve months. I thought about all the Sundays that we will worship together, I thought about all the events that we will plan and carry out, I thought about growth and change and I said a prayer that God would take control of this new year and make it something special.

My focus for our church in this new year is growth. I want us to grow in our faith and understanding of God’s work in our lives. We will be reading the Bible through this year together. I hope you have begun, but if not, you can jump in anytime. We are offering more opportunities for Bible study and small groups that will give you an opportunity to not only learn more about God’s word but also build relationships and Christian fellowship. We will continue offering opportunities for service in our community and throughout the world. We will be trying new forms of worship at our 8:45 service, continue excellent worship at our 11:00 service, and explore other ways to worship and build community. I hope you will make spiritual growth a priority this year. Worship often, find a small group, read the Bible through, find ways to serve others, pray, and practice generosity and hospitality.

Growth also includes widening our circle. We have an opportunity to invite new people and share with them how special our Chamblee First family is. We will be looking for new ways to tell people about our faith in a grace-filled, loving God. We will be looking for ways to connect new people to our church. I encourage you invite your neighbors to join you in worship, study, and service.

I am excited about this new year and look forward to working with you to discern God’s path for our future.

God’s blessings,

Rev. Carol Cook