Discipline is not a bad word
When we talk about discipline most of us think of parenting and the principal’s office. Discipline is what happens when we need to be corrected and our behavior adjusted. However discipline is also used in a positive sense when we talk about sports, music and artistic skills like carpentry or art. Discipline is what we call the practice, the lessons and the rehearsals. It is the inner drive to critically examine your craft, and the exterior effort of being taught and led that we call discipline. Just as we need discipline to excel in art and sports, we need discipline in our spiritual lives as well. These next few weeks we will be highlighting various spiritual disciplines during our worship services as an effort to grow deeper in our faith as a church.
All of the things that we call spiritual disciplines are normal activities in the Christian Life and many times in life in general. They become spiritual disciplines because of the effort of concentration on specific actions in a disciplined way for spiritual benefit. While spontaneity in our faith is valuable and flexibility to what the Spirit draws us to is crucial, we are called to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) and that takes a concerted effort.
Our first topic of the month will be prayer. Both spontaneous and prepared, private and public, prayer is a huge topic. Being disciplined in prayer is a great gift and a skill to be developed. There are many ways to grow in prayer. Learning to pray publicly, gathering with others to pray, and keeping a prayer journal are all ways that can enhance our prayer life. There are a multitude of different ways to pray and many ways to grow in our conversations with God.
Love can be a discipline as well, although we most commonly think of it as an emotion. It might sound like disciplined love is an oxymoron. Ultimately, love is a virtue (not just an emotion) and being disciplined in acts of love does not callus us. Intentionally acting in love causes our hearts to grow and increases our ability to feel and to respond emotionally to others around us. A key part to being disciplined in love is that we can do most things in a loving manner and therefore love can become an innate quality of our lives rather then just a discipline. Disciplined love stretches us and may find us loving people we couldn’t imagine and in ways that we wouldn’t dare.
Living in gratitude is like planting seeds and watering them well. Rarely are seeds like those barren. What a richness we can experience if we are but thankful for the gifts of God and those around us. Even in difficult circumstances there is always something to be thankful for, and the discipline of looking for it shapes our hearts and opens our eyes to the activity of God in our world. It is those difficult circumstances that call for discipline surrounding gratitude. It is too easy to extenuate the negative and descend into despair.
Acts of mercy and kindness are fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. These can be done by individuals or groups of people. When groups of people get together to accomplish something in Christ’s name we call it mission. Joining a group to work at a food bank, trash pick up at a local park with friends, and raising funds for hunger issues all are part of God’s mission in the world. However God’s Mission is not confined to our own neighborhood: it is a global initiative. Supporting and praying for churches and ministries worldwide is a discipline that expands our notion of God’s work in the world. It can also challenge us about who God is as we see people that we perceive as aliens become friends and even brothers and sisters in Christ.
Being intentional about spiritual practices will produce personal growth. Concerted efforts to improve spiritual practice will also sew bonds of faith between believers. All in all, spiritual disciplines allow us to know more about who God is and what God would have us do. We look forward to seeing what God will do with us as we learn together this month.
Sunday February 3rd. Led by youth groups across the country, this mission to tackle hunger and poverty in local communities has been around since 1990. 100% of your donations stays local: non-perishable food items placed in the bins in the main entryway go to the FUMC Food Pantry, and monetary donations will go to the North End Soup Kitchen in Flint. Youth will be available to collect monetary donations after both worship services. Thank you for your support!
On Saturday, February 23, 2019 we will car pool from our church at 8:30 am for a workday at the Shelter of Flint from 9 am – 4 pm. Please consider joining us to do a variety of maintenance tasks, which may involve cleaning, painting, sorting, organizing, etc. Lunch will be provided. If you are interested, a sign-up sheet is in Fellowship Hall. Contact Maureen Utt (810-701-2336 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Saturday, February 23, 2019. Please join us at FFPC in fellowship hall to enjoy good food and great conversation. Doors open at 8:30 starting with nibbles for early risers, breakfast is at 9:00. Bring a friend! Call Julie Grams or sign up in fellowship hall, 810.955.8758
Fifteen volunteers from our church traveled to the North End Soup Kitchen on Saturday, January 12, to prepare and serve a lunch to people in crisis. We served 81 meals of goulash, salad, green beans and grapes. In addition, several of us worked in organizing items for sale in their new, non-profit store where a wide variety of items are available for sale at very cheap prices. We all had a fun and rewarding experience.
After several years of work, the very necessary repair of our historic stained glass windows is complete. Our volunteers did most of the work, but we hired assistance for the large and high Leroy Street windows this year. The wood frames have been scraped, caulked, repaired and painted. For most of the windows, we opted to replace the plexiglass coverings which had aged with new lexan coverings. All of the repaired windows have been ventilated to reduce the heat on the leaded glass windows. The windows are now better protected and the stained glass windows are more visible through the new coverings. We sincerely appreciate the volunteer work as well as the funds supplied from our members to perform the work. We hope to have future generations enjoy our historic stained glass windows!
Our youth are truly spirit filled and disciples of Christ. Here is an excerpt from the 9am worship service on February 21, 2016 Youth Sunday where 5 youth interpreted scripture while senior Emily Kinser read the passage. Emily also gave this year’s sermon. All parts of worship were written and delivered by youth at both the 9 & 11am worship services; the theme was “Bread of Life.” And who do you say is the Son of Man?
On Saturday, February 27, ten volunteers from our church traveled to the Shelter of Flint to help prepare an apartment for transitional housing as well as to sort donated clothing and new toys for the guests there. The apartment needed the walls, ceilings, floors, refrigerator and stove washed. In addition, we installed new venetian blinds, a closet doorknob and a new kitchen light. Sorting the clothing makes it available to the guests. The new toys are sorted and saved in the “birthday closet” to serve as gifts for the children when their birthdays arrive. The Shelter of Flint is a multi-faceted organization that provides much-needed emergency and transitional housing for the homeless as well as numerous programs to help the homeless find their way to a better life.
Since January, our youth group has been very busy planning and participating in 5th Sunday worship (January 31), planning our upcoming Youth Sunday worship service (February 21), participating in congregation game night and the annual ski trip, and collecting for the Souper Bowl of Caring to benefit the North End Soup Kitchen and Linden Presbyterian FISH food pantry. Below is a group picture from cards, crafts and cookies night where our creations went to care receivers from our church. What a terrific bunch!
Lent and Easter are rich in symbolism. The children will learn traditional symbols of Lent and Easter, and discover what they mean. They will also explore what symbols are meaningful to them, even to the point of developing their own personal images. All members of the congregation are also invited to create their own “Easter Art” after 11am worship in Fellowship Hall on February 14, 21, 28 and March 6. All works of art will be on display throughout the Easter season.
Class dates for the “Lent/Easter” rotation are February 14 and March 6. All children attend worship on Youth Sunday, February 21 and communion on February 28.