Camp Read-A-Lot Exceeds Expectations

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Originally posted on East Ohio News:
By Rick Wolcott* United Methodist congregations across the East Ohio Conference are doing their part to fight illiteracy. A driving force behind the development of such ministry is the reality that if people struggle…

Gallery | Leave a comment

Trust and Blessings on the Journey of Faith

Trust in the Lord“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Spiritual formation is a journey, a lifelong journey.  A journey of learning to submit our will and our ways to God so that we might become more like Christ in order to make a difference in the world.

Spiritual formation is a journey of faith, love, hope, grace and trust so that God becomes the one true desire of our hearts. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, called this moving on to perfection.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite passages. It is one of those scriptures that I learned as a child that has carried me through many phases of my faith journey.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…I clung to those words during the loss of our first 3 children. When the pain was so intense and my heart was so broken that the only way to bear the pain was to trust God with all my heart.

Lean not on your own understanding…I find myself focusing on these words when things in my life just don’t make sense, when I can’t understand or figure out all the answers.

In all your ways submit to God and God will make your paths straight. These are the words that carried me through times in my life when I knew I had made mistakes and fallen off the path. But God was always there waiting to lead me back to him.

Then there were the times when I felt that tugging on my heart and I thought God might be calling me to something, but it seemed really crazy, impossible, or pushing me way out of my comfort zone. Have you ever felt the Spirit whispering in the depths of your soul…Trust ME with all your heart?

Proverbs 3 is a reminder to us to focus on the Lord; to trust, know, and honor God. The words aren’t surefire promises of success, but a reminder of who God is and what God expects from each of us. We are to live every aspect of our life to honor God.

So spiritual formation is a journey of trust. A journey of learning to lean on God rather than ourselves. A journey of turning everything over to God and trusting even when things seem impossible. The words translated trust in the Bible literally mean, “a bold, confident, sure security or action based on that security.” Trust is what we do because of faith. Trust is believing in the promises of God in all circumstances.  We are to trust God, not ourselves or our plans or the world’s wisdom.

What does trusting God mean to you?

The reality is that trusting God does not come easy. We live in a culture where being in control is viewed as a strength, even a necessity to being successful. But God requires us to humble ourselves, let go of our need for control, let go of our own understanding, let go of our ways and submit to him. Because we are conditioned to be in control, it is hard to let go of our own will and desires. It is hard to give up our want it my way mindsets. It’s hard to trust God with all our hearts.

In what ways is letting go of  your ways a struggle for you?

In the New Testament there is an incredible, unbelievable story. A story that might challenge our trust and belief. A story that reminds us why God is worthy of our trust. A story that reminds us of the power of God who can do anything, even the impossible.

Click hear to read Matthew 14:13-21.

The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle story found in all four Gospels. Here we see that compassion motivates Jesus ministry as he demonstrates his life-giving power while modeling hospitality for his disciples and even for us today.

When Jesus saw the people, he saw an opportunity to love and affirm them. When the disciples saw the people, they saw problems. Imagine the look on the faces of the disciples when Jesus said, “You feed them!” I imagine them saying, “Jesus, we have five loaves and two fish. Are you crazy, Jesus? We can’t feed all these people!”

Can you imagine the look on their faces when they gathered all the leftovers? Five loaves, two fish, over five thousand fed to satisfaction and twelve baskets of food are left over! As they gathered the leftovers, I imagine the disciples thinking, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding.”

Jesus’ disciples are called upon to do more than they think is possible for them to do. We, too, might feel daunted by the great needs of the world when we feel that we are only one person or one small community of disciples. However, when we take what we have and ask God to bless our efforts and resources we can do more than we ever imagined possible on our own.

Healthy spiritual formation includes a Christian imagination that believes that with God all things are possible!

We learn in the feeding of the 5000 that Jesus is adequate to meet any need, no matter how impossible the circumstances.  When we act in his service to respond to the needs of others, he will provide all the resources we need! Christianity is not a matter of doing things FOR God. Discipleship is doing great things WITH God. That’s the life of Christ Jesus in us. Jesus’ disciples work with him as agents of God’s miraculous feeding power.

Jesus and his disciples gave up a quiet time of fellowship because Jesus had compassion on the crowd and stopped to teach them and feed them. As much as we’d like to think that the Christian life will be happy and comfortable, dying to self and submitting to God often require us to give up both our time and our personal preferences. When our service is costly and we empty ourselves, God can fill our hearts with compassion.

God who loves you wants to bless you and wants to use you in amazing ways!

If God can feed five thousand plus from just five loaves and two fish, imagine what God can do in our lives if we let go of ourselves and trust God?  Imagine what might happen if we lean less on ourselves and more fully on God?

Imagine the possibilities…

God is a possibility thinker! The One who can feed a large gathering from five loaves and two fish provides ALL that we need!

In what ways have you experienced loaves and fishes stories in your life? 

We’ve experienced many loaves and fishes stories at Faith UMC over the past year!

  • Because of God’s provision, we are able to pour into our Camp Read-A-Lot ministry this summer in extravagant ways during a year in which we have had to realign budgets and expenses.
  • This summer we have experienced several stories of volunteers who stepped out of their comfort zone to serve God at Camp Read-A-Lot and Vacation Bible School.  But the blessing of Christ making room for more people to experience these summer ministries was these people participating in ways they might not have if we did not trust God enough to provide right up to the very last minute. We have to allow room in our plans for the Spirit to move in unexpected ways!
  • We have experienced loaves and fishes through Faith UMC’s Women’s retreat this spring as God led us to learn more about PAL, a mission that supports homeless young adults in our community. God enabled us to develop a ministry partnership that blessed these students with gift cards, meals and fellowship, graduation parties, and most importantly relationships. They now refer to our women’s retreat ladies as their Faith Moms!
  • We experienced loaves and fishes blessings through God’s provision for our Wednesday Night Faith Connections dinner ministry!
  • We have experienced loaves and fishes blessings through the children we served at Camp Read-A-Lot and VBS. Children arriving each day with enthusiasm so excited to learn and practice reading skills is life-giving. Their expressions of appreciation and sadness that Camp Read-A-Lot was over on the last day moved many of us to tears.

trust1cGod wants to bless you and use you in amazing ways! Are you willing to let go of your desires and trust the Lord with all your heart? Are you willing to let go of leaning on your own understanding and acknowledge God in all your ways so God can use you to make a difference in the world? 

Are you willing to allow God to use you in ways beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine?

John Wesley said, “I saw that giving even all my life to God…would profit me nothing, unless I gave my heart, yea, all my heart to him.” Giving our whole heart to God is only possible when we let go of ourselves and put our complete hope and trust in God and allow God to shape us to be who God created us to be. There is a song that has captured my heart over the last few months that I want to share as a closing prayer. It’s a prayer for God to keep making us. It is a prayer for God to make us broken, empty and lonely so that Christ becomes our one desire, our true love, our breath, our everything! Let this be the prayer of our hearts. Amen.

Click here to listen to the song Keep Making Me.

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy Schmucker
Spiritual Formation Director, Faith United Methodist Church
Posted in Discipleship, Seeing Christ Being Christ, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Devotion 2014: The Light of Christ

Faith UMC Easter Devotion April 20 2014 

 The Light of Christ

Written by Pastors Steve & Cara Stultz Costello

Scripture:  John 1:5 and 14—”The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. “

Reflection:  The acolytes bear the light of Christ into the midst of the gathered body of Christ. We are reminded that Jesus, the light of the world, has dawned upon us and is in our midst. We are reminded that we are called to be light in his likeness – like a city shining on a hill in the midst of the pervasive shadow of night.

Lent is traditionally a liturgical season likened to intentional darkness. In Lent we are called to focus upon our ‘shadow side’ – to call it into the light; to confess, to be forgiven, restored, saved. Though, when we bring that shadow side into the light it may shrink back, recoil, even snap and snarl. The dimness reacts this way because it is threatened. We become comfortable with our brokenness, our hiddenness, our shame. “That’s just the way I am.” we ascent. This is not the way or who we are. Jesus says to each and all of us, “You are the light of the world.”

You are the light of the world.

When I have the privilege to serve you Communion I see Christ’s light shining in you. You come and look into my eyes as I remind you that Jesus was broken and in him we are made whole. The light from the altar candles, the light of Christ, is reflected in your eyes. Christ’s light is in you. I see it.

Do you see it?

Where do you see the light of Christ reflected?

I also have the privilege to bear witness to the ways in which Christ’s light moves through you. In his name you are about shining his light. What has been broken is healed. What has been kept hidden is respectfully revealed. What has been shrouded in shame is cared for and affirmed. Christ’s light moves thorough you.  I see it.

In what ways do you see Christ’s light moving in and through you and others?

Prayer: Lord God, we hail the Sun of Righteousness in your son Jesus. We give thanks for the light and life that he brings to all. We give thanks that out of the grave and out of our darkness he rises with healing. In this season create in us clean hearts that Christ’s light may ever shine more brightly in and through us. In his name we pray. Amen.

This Week’s Scripture Readings: John 1:5-14, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18, John 20:19-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 1-28, 1 Corinthians 15:20-56

Prayer Focus: Pray for our community. Pray that Christ’s light may shine brightly in and through our church, community and world.

Family Connection:  Flower Cross

Make a cross out of branches. Cover it with chicken wire or similar material that has holes. Fill the cross with fresh flowers and display it in your yard or porch. Share the traditional Easter greeting with one another: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” and the response: “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!”

Faith’s Christian Education & Spiritual Formation ministry team thanks everyone who helped to provide a weekly devotion written by some of Faith’s ministry teams to guide us in reflecting how we are Seeing Christ and Being Christ as we walk with Jesus during the season of Lent and Easter.

Additional resources for Holy Week and Easter  for individuals and for families are available in the literature racks in the Gathering area and outside the Family Life Center as well as in Faith’s Library & Media Center and on our website: http://faithum.weebly.com/lent.html

 

Posted in Devotions, Holy Week, Lent, Seeing Christ Being Christ | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent Devotions 2014: On The Road With Jesus

See christ (2)Faith UMC Lenten Devotions April 13 2014 

 On The Road With Jesus

 Written by Faith’ UMC’s Faith Kitchen Ministry Group

Scripture:  1 John 3:16-18 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Reflection:  There are so many hungry people in our midst. Statistics reveal that there are 500.000 people, many of them children in Northeast Ohio that do not have enough to eat. There seems to be more people standing on the expressway ramps holding up signs revealing that they are jobless, hungry and in need of help.  It would be so convenient to keep driving, pass judgment and hope someone else can help them today.  Maybe even we could keep going and say a prayer.  “ Oh Jesus please help them.” Everything will be alright now because as Christians we believe that God answers prayers.

But who does God use to answer prayers? 

The answer is the person who is reading this devotion.  Yes, YOU, a follower of Jesus. He implores us to love one another in all circumstances.

In what way is God calling you to love others?

There are responsibilities when you commit to following Jesus and let His love abide in your heart.  Some of the ways you may love a stranger in need is to let them know you see their suffering.  A gift card for a fast food restaurant, gloves, a bag filled with personal care items and snacks can be given to individuals standing on the road asking for help.

In what ways can you share the love of Christ?

Through the ministry of Faith Kitchen we have the opportunity to pour into the lives of those in need of the love of Christ and Christian community. When Jesus ask us to love our brothers and sisters He does not use words like empathize, or empower but asks us to show compassion and mercy on those in need.

In what ways have you experienced Seeing Christ Being Christ through compassion and mercy?

There are many scripture readings regarding Jesus and the road. Jesus appeared to His disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Let us as followers be on the road with Jesus in ways that those that we encounter know that we see the suffering and have compassion in His name.

In what ways is God calling you  to be on the road with Jesus this Holy Week?

Prayer: Loving and Compassionate God, as you have loved us help us to love others, not just in our words but in our actions.  Help us to respond to your call to be on the road with Jesus so others will know that we see the suffering and will respond with compassion in Your name. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

This Week’s Lenten Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:13-16, Matthew 21:1-11, Zechariah 9:9-10, Luke 19:39-40, Luke 10:25-37, Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 24:13-35, Matthew 26:36-46

Prayer Focus: Pray for those who are suffering and in need of compassion, love, and mercy. Pray for God to show you how you can Be Christ and See Christ on the road with Jesus.

Family Connection:  Gift Bags

Talk about what it would be like to be hungry or homeless. Perhaps fast from a meal and have the discussion while you are feeling the pangs of hunger. Share ideas of what kinds of things might be appreciated by someone who is hungry. Talk about ways that your family can respond with compassion to help others. Take a plastic zip bag and fill it with gift card, glove, snacks,  and personal care items. Be ready to respond when you notice  someone in need.

 

Faith’s Christian Education & Spiritual Formation ministry team will provide a weekly devotion written by some of Faith’s ministry teams to guide us in reflecting how we are Seeing Christ and Being Christ as we walk with Jesus during the season of Lent and Easter.

Additional resources for Holy Week and Easter  for individuals and for families are available in the literature racks in the Gathering area and outside the Family Life Center as well as in Faith’s Library & Media Center and on our website: http://faithum.weebly.com/lent.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Holy Week, Lent, Seeing Christ Being Christ | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent Devotions 2014: God, Why Don’t You Do Something

See christ (2)Faith UMC Lenten Devotions April 6 2014

 God, Why Don’t You Do Something?

Written by Faith’ UMC’s 2014 Women’s Retreat Group

Scripture:  Matthew 25:37-40  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Reflection: Several weeks ago approximately twenty women of Faith spent time together in prayer, praise, reflection and celebration of our sisterhood in Christ.  Our leaders, Kathy Schmucker and Pam Wig, thoughtfully and prayerfully designed a wide variety of experiences for us to help us quiet ourselves and ‘retreat’ from our busy lives, schedules and distractions.

We had very gifted guests during our time together who shared music, meditation, inspirational stories and gave us an experience in liturgical stretching of our spirits.  One speaker, in particular brought the group to tears.  She was a special guest from the P.A.L. Mission who told us more about one of the mission projects that Faith Church supports.  This committed young lady, Andrea, shared her work and her life in her work.

P.A.L. Mission provides stable, secure housing and life skills training to the at-risk populations of adolescents in foster care who are preparing to leave the foster care system.  Andrea told us about the challenges of the homeless, foster young men and women in their program.  Four of the ten current youths are 17 years old and are on their own, still in high school, no family, no home, no one to love them, care for them or plan their future with them.  How much hope would could they have?

In what ways is God breaking your heart?

Andrea’s real stories of youth who live only a few miles from us, moved us deeply.  Our hearts were broken and it reminded me of a message from a new Christian song.  The man said he saw poverty and homelessness and he shook his fist at heaven and said, “God, why don’t you do something!”  God’s response in the song, “I did, I CREATED YOU!”  When our hearts are stirred, I believe God is nudging US to DO SOMETHING.

In what way is God calling you to DO SOMETHING?

Andrea did not ask for anything. She simply shared her call to work with disadvantaged foster youth, and told their story.  What happened next can only be described as a true movement of the spirit and discipleship in action.  As we moved to the next activity, clearly we all felt a desire to jump into action.  We spent the next 30 minutes brainstorming what actions we felt called to do to support these youth.  The Women of Faith are excited to prepare and serve a meal on the Monday of Holy Week to the P.A.L. Mission youth and will give each youth an Easter tote filled with needed supplies, (and goodies), additional totes for carrying groceries as they walk from the grocery store to their apartments, gift cards for food and some books to feed their spirits.  I believe this one act of generosity will only be the beginning as we take the next step in service by developing relationships with the youth and listen for how God will call us to live into our faith with them.

In what ways do you sense the movement of God’s Spirit stirring your discipleship into action?

Prayer:  Break our hearts, Lord, for what breaks yours, and help us discern how we can be true disciples who are your hands and feet in our community.  Help us to see others with your eyes, Father, with the clarity of what help is needed when it is needed.   Thank you, Father, for the talents and resources that we have available in our Faith family and help us be the best stewards of your blessings.  In Jesus’s name, Amen. 

This Week’s Lenten Scripture Readings: Matthew 25:37-40, John 11:17-27, 1 John 3:16-18,  Galatians 6:1-10, James 1:22, Psalm 82:3-4, Luke 14:12-14, 1 Corinthians 13:3, James 2:5

Prayer Focus: Pray for those who are homeless, ill, lonely, living in poverty.  Pray for God to show you how you can do something to make a difference for others. Pray for God to show you how you can Be Christ and See Christ in our community.

Family Connection:  Spring Cleaning

Renew a corner of your home: the attic, the garage, or the yard. Paint a room or clean out closets. Give unused toys and clothes to the poor. Hold a garage sale and donate the profits to a charitable organization.

 Click here to listen to the song Do Something by Matthew West and hear the story of one young woman who responded to the call to do something!

 

Faith’s Christian Education & Spiritual Formation ministry team will provide a weekly devotion written by some of Faith’s ministry teams to guide us in reflecting how we are Seeing Christ and Being Christ as we walk with Jesus during the season of Lent.

Additional resources for Lent for individuals and for families are available in the literature racks in the Gathering area and outside the Family Life Center as well as in Faith’s Library & Media Center and on our website: http://faithum.weebly.com/lent.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Devotions, Discipleship, Lent, Seeing Christ Being Christ | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Story: Jesus, The Son Of God

H-Icon_Ch25_Palm

He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” 

Peter answered, “The Christ sent from God.” – Luke 9:20

 

 

This Week’s Scripture References: Matthew 17; 21; Mark 8-12; 14; Luke 9;22, John 7-8; 11-12 Who do you say I am? Imagine Jesus asking you that question. How would you respond?

Teacher, Healer, Counselor, Messiah, Deliverer, Immanuel, King of Kings

Jesus spent a lot of time traveling with his disciples teaching them who he was and what would happen to him. In The Story this week we encounter Jesus as he weeps at the death of his friend, Lazarus. Jesus amazes everyone when he raises Lazarus from death. Can you imagine being one of those present to witness such amazement? By the touch of his hand or by the words from his lips the blind are healed, the deaf can hear and the lame can walk. Jesus healed to help others understand who he was.

How do these stories help you to understand Jesus?

Jesus also teaches that to understand his kingdom one must have faith like a child. Jesus teaches that the greatest commandments are to love God and others. Jesus love and compassion for others may have been his greatest power.

What does this reveal about Jesus?

Spend some time exploring the stories of Jesus from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Who do you say Jesus is?

 

To listen to this week’s sermon,  Jesus, The Son of God, Sermon 4/6 in “Walk” The Story Mini-Series, click here! 

For Family Devotions related to this week’s message, click here!

For more information and additional resources for The Story at Faith UMC, click here!

 

Posted in Devotions, The Story | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent Devotions 2014: A Childlike Curiosity

See christ (2)Faith UMC Lenten Devotions March 30, 2014

A Childlike Curiosity

Written by Faith UMC’s Library Ministry Group

Scripture:  “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ “   Matthew 19: 14

Reflection:  We have worked to make the library a welcoming place for both our adults and our children.  To keep our library current, we have been withdrawing out-of-date materials and offering them to the congregation at our annual Book Give – Away.  This has given people a chance to build their home libraries and through the generous donations we collect, we are able to purchase new books, both religious and secular.  We are always asking member to give us ideas of what books they would like to see in our library.  We have also received several gifts during this time: a colorful carpet for the Children’s Room, a revolving bookshelf for our Young Adult books, a book cart to store books about the current sermon topics for our members to study further, and a computer to store all the information about our collection.  We also have received many books from members as well as books from our UMW for their reading program.  Books are purchased to update areas where we are weak in subject areas and supplement the preschool and Sunday School/Small Group curriculums.  By doing these things we have seen increased circulation of all our materials and more members have been introduced to this wonderful resource.  We see members “Seeing Christ, Being Christ” throughout all these activities.

What resources have helped you grow closer to Christ?

In the last two years, we have introduced a preschool reading program where various members of our congregation volunteer to come in on Tuesday mornings to read aloud a story and share life experiences.  Our members touch about 20 children’s lives on a weekly basis showing them what it is like to live a Christ-like life.  It is always heart-warming to see those little children come in with excited looks in their eyes, asking questions, selecting books to borrow, and glowing as holidays approach.

In what ways do you model a Christ-like life for others?

May we all have the childlike curiosity of getting to know Christ and his teachings through stories so we can “See Christ Be Christ” in our daily lives.

In what ways has your childlike curiosity helped you to experience Seeing Christ Being Christ this Lent?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father,   We ask you to bless each of us with the awe and wonder of childhood.  Help us to feel anew your daily presence with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts.  In Christ’s name, Amen.

This Week’s Lenten Scripture Readings: Matthew 19:14, 1 Peter 2:2-3,  Matthew 18:1-6, Mark 10:13-16, Galatians 3:26-28, Matthew 6:5-13, Matthew 6:31-33

Prayer Focus: Ask God to help you experience God’s kingdom as a little child. Pray for the children, youth, and families of our congregation and community. Pray for those who struggle with literacy.

Family Connection:  Show Love to Others

Write each person in your family’s name at the top of a piece of paper. Under the name, put ways others in the family can show love to that person. During the week, ask each family member to do one thing for all others in the family from their lists.

 

Faith’s Christian Education & Spiritual Formation ministry team will provide a weekly devotion written by some of Faith’s ministry teams to guide us in reflecting how we are Seeing Christ and Being Christ as we walk with Jesus during the season of Lent.

Additional resources for Lent for individuals and for families are available in the literature racks in the Gathering area and outside the Family Life Center as well as in Faith’s Library & Media Center and on our website: http://faithum.weebly.com/lent.html

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Devotions, Lent, Seeing Christ Being Christ | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment