Thank Goodness It's Wednesday!
It's been a while since we began our break before Thanksgiving, but Wednesday at the Port is finally coming back this week! Our Wednesday night gatherings are one of the highlights of the week for me. You cannot get much better than a home-cooked meal shared amongst friends who come together to learn grow in faith. I hope you will join us this Wednesday at 6 pm for Food, Faith, and Friends!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Called: Against the Goads
Over the next few weeks, we will explore how God calls us to join the work of Jesus in the world as we learn more about the Apostle Paul's journey into ministry.
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: Our Way or God's Way?
Acts 9:1-9, 26:9-16
Paul - at the time called Saul - had overseen the execution of the deacon Stephen and begun a great persecution of the church going from home to home and synagogue to synagogue to round up the followers of Jesus. All the followers of Jesus except the apostles fled Jerusalem to the wilderness and surrounding villages. There, they continued to spread the good news about Jesus, as Philip did in sharing the gospel with an Ethiopian man and baptizing him. The church continued to grow, now outside Jerusalem. So Paul began to pursue the Christians in the foreign cities where they had taken refuge. On his way to Damascus, Paul saw a blinding light and heard a voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" In this unmistakable message from God, Paul finally realized what he had been told by Stephen and likely many others that he persecuted - that Jesus was indeed the Messiah sent by God. Paul, blinded by the light, was led to Damascus by his fellow travelers and there fasted for three days, likely considering the great sin of his ruthless persecution. As Luke tells the story in Acts 9, it can seem like Paul's conversion happened easily and fairly quickly after he began his persecution. If we consider Paul's own testimony from years later as reported by Luke in Acts 26, though, we realize that Paul had been engaged in his persecution for quite some time - finding ways to trap people in blasphemy, traveling from one city to the next to track down more and more followers of Jesus. Paul had been persecuting the church for quite some time and had arrested and sent many people to their deaths. What's more is that Paul reports a statement from Jesus following the question in their encounter on the road to Damascus - "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." Goads were tools with sharpened tips used to prod stubborn oxen to continue pulling their load. If an ox was particularly stubborn and kicked against the goads when prodded, it could wind up hurting itself even worse than from the sharp poke of the goads. For Paul, this expression was used to help him see that, throughout his persecution of the church, he had been being driven to become who he was called to be - a great missionary for Jesus. Yet he kicked against the goads of God's directing him to a new life and continued on the path he had chosen for himself. Often when we face difficult decisions and wonder what to do, we wish for a blinding light kind of experience that Paul had on the road to Damascus. Yet God often speaks in subtler, quieter ways - the words of a trusted friend, a seeming coincidence, a unquenchable yearning deep inside. If we ignore them waiting for the bigger, unmistakable message, we only make things harder for ourselves as we kick against the goads. Answering God's call means following the small nudges God gives us each day.
Financial Peace University
Do you want to pay off your debts, save more, give to make a difference, and plan for the future? Join us starting February 12th for a nine-week class on this and more. For more details on the topics, see the website for Financial Peace University. The class costs $100 and will be led by Pastor Jim and Courtney. We are working on offering childcare for elementary and younger children during the class. If you want to participate, please make out a check to the church with "FPU" in the memo and turn into Pastor Jim by this Sunday. If you have questions, please contact Pastor Jim.
Game Night - This Sunday
Join us this Sunday, January 29, at 7 pm for a game night! We will be playing a party game for all ages called Progressive Hearts. It is fun and easy for all ages - from toddlers to seniors. If you can roll six dice, you can play! Prizes will be awarded and snacks will be provided. Please let Pastor Jim know if you are interested in coming, so that we can plan ahead.
Paint Night - Friday, March 17
Want to paint a little something to inspire you and spruce up your kitchen? Want to hang out with friends for a few hours? Join us on March 17, 6-9 pm, for a paint night. An instructor will come teach us how to make this painting. The cost is $25, and all supplies are included. Bring a favorite snack to share, and drinks will be provided. To reserve your spot, please make out a check to the church with "Paint Night" in the memo and turn into Lee. Please see Lee with any questions.
The painting includes the Scripture from Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Living in Community
Thank you to Keith for fixing all the sinks in the church!
Is God calling you to support families in our church as they improve their financial situations? Consider helping to provide childcare for a few children at church during one week of our Financial Peace class. Please contact Pastor Jim if you feel led to serve in this way.
This Week at Port Church
Monday, January 23
9:30 am - Bible Study
Tuesday, January 24
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
7:00 pm - Bible Study
Wednesday, January 25
6:00 - Wednesday at the Port
Menu: Baked Potatoes and Salad
Thursday, January 26
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
7:00 pm - Trustees Meeting
Sunday, January 29
9:30 am - Worship: "Face to Face"
Bring items for Super Bowl Food and Clothing Drive!
11:00 am - Sunday School
7:00 pm - Game Night
February 4-5 - Youth JUMP! Retreat
February 12 - Financial Peace Class Begins
March 17 - Paint Night
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!