Oak Forest United Methodist Church
Friday, August 18, 2017
To Know Christ, To Grow in Christ, To Share Christ

Pastor's Message

August 2017

Making Preparations


     Making preparations takes intentionality. It may be a friend who is coming to visit, getting ready for a new school year, for a big event at church, or an upcoming trip. To prepare is to make ready, get things order in anticipation of something happening, to go before. Am I alone in thinking that there is something strangely satisfying about making preparations? I know that my mom will make her way to the parsonage for her first visit soon (no date yet) and I have already started to prepare for her visit. Have you ever thought about how much time is spent getting ready for an event, meeting, worship service, visit? Most of the time, we spend a lot more time prepping than the time the event actually takes. The sermon alone takes around 20-25 minutes to preach but on average it takes 15 hours to write!
     I like to think that when we prepare, we are first honoring the event at hand. When my mom comes to visit I want her to feel comfortable, honored, and loved when she comes. In preparation, we have put the bed together in the guest room, washed the sheets, purchased a new bedspread, vacuumed the carpet, and we will eventually put fresh flowers out. My hope is that when she walks in, she will feel welcomed and loved. The same principle is at play with the sermon, our Fall Bazaar, VBS, and on and on it goes. We prepare because what we anticipate is important and potentially life changing and we want to be ready. One of the highest compliments we can give to a business or organization is that “they had their ducks in a row,” they had it together, they were ready.
     August is that kind of month in the life of the church. We are getting ready in all sorts of ways. From the Fall Bazaar to Genesis Sunday (August 27th) to the start of a new school year, we are anticipating the new start that happens every fall. Oh how easy it is to lose our focus and we get stressed out preparing and stop enjoying the preparations and the anticipation of what is to happen. Jesus took preparations very seriously. He had a pattern that he lived into that is really helpful to follow as we prepare for big things this fall. Jesus prayed… a lot. If you read carefully through the Gospels, you will see this pattern of Jesus’ work: prayer-activity-prayer-activity. Jesus would heal all sorts of people, then go pray. Jesus would pray alone and then feed 5000 people then go pray afterward. Sometimes he would retreat with his three friends, Peter James and John but he would always make ready with prayer. When we live into Jesus’ pattern, we will find a healthier way to balance our doing with being. When we pray, we are framing all we do with God.
     We are making ready now because exciting things are happening. Oak Forest, let’s get busy with prayer and preparations. We have about a month or so before all the fall activities are kicked off so let’s make ready by busying our hands with work AND busying our souls and minds in prayer. Here are some helpful daily devotionals to get you started. Pray every day for our church, for your Pastor and the church leadership and that we will always hear and follow God’s will for Oak Forest.
     The Upper Room (produced by the UMC) – You can pick up the upper room from the church or sign up to get a daily devotional delivered to your email.
     Proverbs 31 Ministries (produced by Lysa TerKerust and friends) – www.proverbs31.org. The ministry mainly supports the spiritual growth of women. They have a daily devotional that you can subscribe to and it will be sent to your email box everyday.
     Henri Nouwen Society- the society works to foster the spirituality of solitude, community, and compassion that was embodied in the life and learning of Henri Nouwen. You can subscribe to an emailed daily devotional.
     Axis Ministries – I like this website for families, particularly families with teenagers. The vision of the leadership grew out of young people leaving the church. They are extremely relevant and connect the Bible with the realities of a young person’s life.
     Focus on the Family- This resource is the most used resource for families. They are a solid resource but they are not always my favorite. They too will deliver a daily devotional to your inbox and they have a lot of interactive tools on their website to address a plethora of parenting questions. Check them out at www.focusonthefamily.org
     If you have any questions or need a resource from a book, please reach out to Pastor Julie (336-707-5961), Ben (336-764-2949) or Mary Catherine (K-Life). We are here to help guide you in your faith!
Grace and Peace,
Julie Wilburn Peeler