News, Events, Blogs

Russell Logston
August 20, 2018

Are You in the Boat?

 

My past few sermons have been about the great fish stories of the Gospels: Jesus calling of Peter, Jesus paying a temple tax with a money spiting fish, and the feeding of the 5000 with two fish and five loaves.

This Sunday we are going to be finishing our stories as we hear about Peter in the boat. Jesus is risen and when Peter gets back to Galilee he goes fishing.  He climbs in a fishing boat and fishes all night and catches nothing.   In the morning the disciples encounter the risen Christ for the third time and Jesus calls and challenges Peter to live the greater life he intended for him.  “Do you love me more than these?” “Then feed my lambs.”  What happened to Peter, and why did he go fishing?  Where did God intend for him to be?

What about us?  What can Peter’s boat mean to us?  Do we sometimes loose track of Jesus call to live the greater life?  Does God ever give up on us?   Come Sunday, and we will be thinking about some of these things.

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/first-century-galilee-boat

June 19, 2018

“Complaint Department”

Sometimes you see humorous pieces around car shops. In one shop there is a small sign that states if you have a complaint take a number. Below the sign is a small tag with “1” written upon it attached to a ring. The ring is attached to a pin and the pin is inserted into what looks like a hand grenade. So, who wants to complain? Really no one likes complaints; although, sometimes complaining is necessary and just. Any good business will help their customers find satisfaction. How does God deal with our complaints? Does heaven have a complaint department?

Comes this Sunday as we consider the Apostle Paul’s disposition with  regard to many things he could have complaint about.

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (NRSV)
1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

June 14, 2018

Earning a Living

The old notion is that a person must work to live. The more successful one is in their work, than the more comfortable they will live. Many people work for this greater life of wealth and comfort.

In contrast Jesus died so that all may live. Jesus never seemed to put to much stock in gaining material advantages, being wholly comfortable, or interpreting the importance of life by counting the number of possession one owns. Instead of being self serving he concerned himself with the lives of others.

Paul argues that all should live for him who died, and that this is true life -everlasting. The pattern we need follow in this life is to live more like Jesus.  It is then that we find a life given and not earned. We are met by grace.

What life are you living for? How do these two notions meet and greet one another, or are they in conflict?

June 7, 2018

Necessity

The saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This is a very old English proverb. It recognizes that people create new solutions where there is need. Problems and the desire to overcome some particular obstacle may serve as a catalyst for the creation of new inventions and ideas.   However, the process of inventing usually takes a whole focused effort. Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”  Edison is known for the things he created, but each success was built upon a multitude of failures.  His greatest genius may have been in his perseverance and being willing to deal with a problem from multiple perspectives.

I once read a book about developing a youth ministry within the local church.  One of the points the author made was that our problem isn’t that we fail, but that we fail too slowly.   The thought was that failure is often a part of the process of finding success.  When something doesn’t work it simply needs to be recognized, abandoned or adapted, and then something different tried.  Eventually, success is likely to be achieved.  The only necessity is that a church does not give up. 

Every church is confronted with the need to grow and change.  I think there are always roads that lead to growth and life for churches, both large and small.  The largest challenge is being willing to take the journey down roads that may be unknown or untried.  I think most congregations prefer to be still and remain comfortable.  However, it is not typical that being still will produce growth.  We have to allow ourselves to be confronted with both the needs of life and the calling of God upon us.   What new ideas, projects, and ministries is God calling us to? How should these needs and calling generate innovation within us?   Are we willing to try and fail and keep trying?  

The Bible speaks about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Perhaps only as we so love and move; wholly engaged with the challenges we face, and focused upon finding a solution that God may truly bless us.  What does it take to make a church grow?

May 29, 2018

Hiking the Trails

You can find the PDF file for hiking the Sleeping Bear Trails below:

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James crossing the walk way.  When the sign at the beginning says the trail might be flooded you really should read it.

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Barred Owl –Empire, MI

May 22, 2018

Diamonds

One of the most successful slogans says that “Diamonds are Forever.” This might be true. They are carbon crystals formed under great heat and pressure. Even if the suns of the universe should cease to shine, diamonds might still be present. (there just may be no one to appreciate them) Who knows how long it might take for the bonds of carbon atoms to simply dissolve.  On earth diamonds are rather rare, but I once watched a show that theorized that diamonds fall as rain on the surface of Jupiter.  The pressure of the atmosphere is so great that it causes the prevalence of carbon in the atmosphere to form crystals and plummet to the surface.  Can you imagine a planet surface stacked deep in diamond crystals?  Beauty, riches, and glory are relative concepts. How would we think about such things if we could witness heaven or see the person of God? What would happen if the eternal were become more real to us than that which is transient? Would a diamond still impress us? Would we see life any different?

 

This Sunday I am preaching on Isaiah 6:1-8 and Isaiah’s vision of God.  What happens to us and to life when we perceive the eternal and the glory of God within?

May 14, 2018

Wind Chimes and the Spirit of God

Pentecost Sunday is here. 

My Preaching text will be John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15.

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. 
4 … “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

As a wedding gift, a relative once gave us a homemade set of wind chimes. They were constructed from long metal tubes and would resonate in harmony as the wind caused them to sway and sound off. When we dared to put them up, they added music to the wind that was invisible. I suppose some might call the chimes noisy and even annoying, but there was also something beautiful in the tones and something mystical about being able to play with the wind. Perhaps in some ways our lives should be to the Spirit as those chimes were to the wind. What sounds, harmony, and movement come from your life as you feel the Spirit of God blowing? Does anyone perhaps even find you annoying?

February 19, 2018

The Lenten Journey–To The Cross

Jesus said,

Mark 8:34 (NRSV)
34 … “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Why would a person take up a cross?  It is a short walk to a certain and torturous death. Jesus spoke these words knowing that his time was growing short.  For him, inevitably, there was a cross. He could not live as he chose to live and avoid it.  He could not be who he believed himself to be and side step it.  Jesus was heading toward a confrontation between himself and the social and political powers of the world around him.  He disagreed with the piety of the priest, the teaching of the Pharisees, the money of Herod, and many of the religious affections of the masses.  Therefore he did not want people to be surprised that something had to give. 

John 11:50 (NRSV)
50 You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”

Jesus carried the cross not because it was how he chose to die –not because he had a death wish.  The cross was placed upon him because of how he chose to live.  The question to us is not what are we willing to die for, but what are we living for? Aare we willing to live as Christ lived knowing what happened to him?  Do our chooses in this life causes us more sacrifice or worldly gain?  Do we live just for self or for something more?  is there a cross in chooses?  If there is, just remember, where there is a cross for the sake of Christ there is also a resurrection.

March 9, 2017

Join Our Lenten Bible Study!

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM!

Come for Soup, Sandwiches and the Study!

This Lenten season we are dwelling upon the book of Jonah; using worship and Bible study materials from Dr. Reed Lessing.

Jonah … for Lent? Sounds fishy, but it’s a natural fit. When the Jews asked Jesus for
a sign, he said, “I will give you only the sign of Jonah.” After three days in the belly of
the earth, Jesus rose with news of God’s prodigal grace. This series of special services
explores the meaning of “The Sign of Jonah” as we follow Jonah on his journey … and
Jesus on his way to the cross. Written by seminary professor Dr. Reed Lessing.

Come and share with us!  I think you will find our Lenten study thoughtful and interesting.  There is something more to this story than what we might realize.

November 17, 2016

Join our Advent Study–”The Greatest Gift”

Come experience a Christmas like never before —
Come experience a Christmas like you’ve always dreamed of…

So come Christmas morning, you haven’t missed Him.
So come Christmas morning — you’ve unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for —
more of Him.

This Advent we are sharing in the devotional readings of Ann Voskamp and her book “The Greatest Gift.”

Our Advent Study will begin Tuesday, November 22 at 9:30 AM.  Everyone is invited to attend.  We will be using a 4 part video that goes along with the book.  You may wish to purchase the book “The Greatest Gift,” from Amazon.com (CLICK HERE.)

We will meet through out Advent November 22 through December 20; skipping December 6th.  We will not meet on the 6th.

Hope to see you there!

November 16, 2016

The Treasure Principle

Randy Alcorn describes the Treasure Principle as being,

“You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.”

There are six keys to this principle:

• God owns everything, and I am His money-manager.

• My heart always goes where I put God’s money.

• Heaven—not earth—is my true home.

• I should live, not for the dot, but for the line.

• Giving is the only antidote to materialism.

• God prospers me, not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

Look under our worship tab to access the sermons dealing with the Treasure Principle!  Or ask us for an invitation to RightNow Media to view the teaching videos by the author, Randy Alcorn!  Learn how God wants you to be rich in the right way.

 

September 23, 2016

The Spiritual Gifts

Recently we are talking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the significance of Spiritual gifts.  This Sunday I will be speaking about the Spiritual Gifts that direct a Christian’s life outwardly to others in acts of compassion and service.  I have post this coming Sunday’s Sermon online.  Also if you are interested in learning more I am leading our Tuesday Morning Bible Study, using video lessons titled, “Your Divine Design.”   This study is to help us to discern what our spiritual gifts are and how to use them. 

I am hoping that our members will take the time to work through the joys and questions of knowing their spiritual gifts and share this information with me as we are looking toward filling our leadership roster for the coming year.

I have also emailed a short survey and spiritual assessment form out to people to help us with this work.   If you would like a copy of this email sent to please let me know by contacting me at pastor_empireumc@centurytel.net

Knowing where we stand before God and how God has blessed us is one of the avenues for becoming who God wants us to be.  Your Spiritual Gifts are part of the answer in making our church a growing and living body.

God Bless you well, and remember you are a spiritually blessed person!

May 25, 2016

Donuts and Dialog Topic

On Sunday we will be discussing an article titled,

African Methodists worry about the church that brought them Christianity.”

This article is an account of some of the topics discussed at our past general conference and looks at these questions from the perspective of the African Methodist Church.  Come and join us for a short discussion at 10 AM on Sundays.

May 16, 2016

Running the Race

This is our text for this Sunday!

Romans 5:3-5 (NRSV)
3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

I could post a picture of myself running a 20 K long distance race up and down the hills of Wheeling West Virginia, but you might not recognize me. 

The Elby’s Distance Race was a big thing in its day; back in the 1980’s or so..

Just imagine me toward the back of the pack.  I might even actually be in this picture.  I was not in the running for winning.  The  winners ran a 5 to a sub 5 minute mile.  The course record was 1 hour and 56 seconds for the 12.4 miles (20 k) For me, I considered  just finishing the race a win.

I thing that I learned about running a long distance race is that if a person is going to run a 20 K race, then a person needs to practice running such a distance. Running over 12 miles is not easy, but practice strengthens the body and increases one’s aerobic capacity. If one listens well enough to their body, the pain of practice produces strength and the ability to finish the race.  We find the ability to accomplish the goal of finishing the race by putting ourselves to the task.

I think life is a little like a race. The question is, are we living so as to complete the race? Despite the effort and even the pain, what do you need to practice more at? What makes us a person ready to cross the finish line? 

Paul tells us that it is Christ who makes us able, but sometimes the course is difficult and certainly not without effort or pain.  None-the-less even the pains we suffer in life bring forth a divine blessing.  Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.  It does not disappoint us because God love is made more present and real to us.  We become a people focused on that which does not fail.  Perhaps sometimes the road can be long and the movement from suffering to hope is not a direct path, but God does not abandon us within the race.  Therefore whatever your situation is keep running.  You will cross the finish line.

April 29, 2016

Try Windows Live Writer

If you want to add news and information to our website here is an easy way to go.  Try Windows Live Writer.  Let me know if it works for you!

Microsoft Windows Live Writer

April 29, 2016

Are You Worried?

I guess that there are a lot of good reasons to worry about things in this life; although, I have found that usually we worry about things that never happen.   I think sometimes we are just good worriers and sometimes we find it hard to trust in God’s love and presence within our lives, but if we look back on most situations we come to realize that we have indeed made it through.  Over the bumps, and sharp falls we have not been forgotten, and even in the midst of true difficulties and tragedies if we persevere often in life the greatest losses can bring about the greatest gains.  I tend to think that this is the work of God.  When we are able to see the highest heights from the lowest points I think that it is God who is raising our vision and lifting us up. 

If this is true and God is with us, then we all should be warriors and not worries!  How can we serve the one who so empowers life?

Here is a story worth watching.  It might not speak directly about God, but I believe that I see God’s hand within the tale:

Jennifer Bricker and Dominique Moceanu

April 14, 2016

“A Sheepish Endeavor”

This Sunday we are thinking about Jesus as the good shepherd. In this parable the image of Jesus followers is that as being the sheep. 

I can’t say that I know  too much about what sheep are like.  Sheep and shepherds were a universal experiences for the people of Jesus day.  At least at every Passover one of the main dishes was a lamb and lambs were often used in sacrifices.   The demand for lambs was likely great, but for most of us if we haven’t been in 4-H or grew up in a rural area, we  probably have no idea what raising sheep is like.

Therefore it is a little hard to connect with this image.  Still when we try , we may discover that it is difficult to see the idea of being a sheep as a positive image.  It turns out that sheep aren’t the smartest critters.   So what does it mean to be a sheep?  How can that image be helpful or even encouraging.

There in lies the thought for my sermon. 

It is probably worth listening to Ken Davis’ take on this question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNoppHpPaAQ

August 12, 2015

Sermon Thought Preview -“You Are What You Eat” -JOHN 6:51-58

Scientifically, over time the body replenishes its cellular make up. Most of the cells that now make up your body were not a part of you when you were born. The materials for these new cells came from what you have eaten.  Therefore, you are what you eat, but what constitutes our spiritual nature?  What have you used to renew and construct your inner being?  How do we build a healthy spiritual life?