Oak Forest United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
To Know Christ, To Grow in Christ, To Share Christ

Pastor's Message

March 2018
I love sparklers. Actually I think many of you have figured out how much I love fire. When I was little, every 4th of July my dad would give me and my two siblings 10 dollars and we would go shopping at Bimbos. Bimbos isn’t as risqué as it sounds, it was one of many local firework stores which was open all year around in Tennessee. There were a lot of fireworks I wasn’t allowed to buy with my 10 dollars but I could always get snakes, popits, and sparklers.
     Sparklers are so much fun…while they last. You can make shapes in the air with the fire and watch the smoke rolls around all the waves but after about 45 seconds its nothing but a hot sharp metal wire that does nothing and is pretty much useless. It’s pretty tempting to think that our life with God should be a sparkler-like experience with lots of excitement, flashy, and intense. It’s tempting to look for God in the flash-in-the-pan preaching, churches with lots of bells and whistles or to seek out intensely emotional experiences where we can feel the high of the presence of God.
     Often though what happens is the flash wears off, the bells and whistles can no longer be heard and we are left with just smoke in the wind. While those mountain top experiences with God are amazing and transformative, walking with God tends to takes us more to the valleys than the mountain tops. God speaks more in a whisper than a shout; nudges more than shoves. Elijah, looking for God on Mt. Horeb, discovered this truth: “Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1Kings 19:11-13, NRSV).
     During this season of Lent, our series is on Listening at the Cross. Following Jesus is, as Eugene Petersons says, “A long obedience in the same direction.” During this season of Lent, cultivate practices that stoke your love for God. Deepen your prayer life, study the scriptures, fast, worship God as often as you can, and serve those in need. Add to your life with God rather than take away and see what God has in store for you. Here are some ways to stay in love with God:
-Set a timer on your phone to prompt you to pray.
-Volunteer with Oak Forest to eat with a child or read with a child weekly at Midway Elementary School (see Tracy Powell, tpowell9618@hotmail.com, to sign up).
-While praying, envision those who you are concerned about at the foot of the cross and give them to God.
-Write letters of thanksgiving to those you care about and those in need of an encouraging word.
-Give to a mission, the church, or a project that inspires you
-Visit with someone who is lonely.

Thanks and Peace,
Pastor Julie