Sermon Cast – Collaborate with God

Date: October 19, 2014
Preacher: William Marshall

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-7
Description: Lay Preacher Jack Marshall provides the final message to the fall series “In Progress,” a look at the development of our spiritual journeys in God’s hands, under God’s guidance, and as co-laborers for God’s heavenly rule on earth.

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Cardboard Pumpkins

Halloween is occasionally criticized by the Christian community for a variety of reasons: the celebration is pagan, occult-ish connections abound, the holiday promotes unbiblical superstitions. While I’d rather defer to greater authorities on these subjects, I’ve written a concise piece on the Christian origins of Halloween in this month’s newsletter. My conclusion? Halloween is a natural and fitting Christian Holiday!
On October 26, 2014 at 4PM Watsontown United Methodist Church hosts a Trunk-or-Treat event for the Watsontown/Warrior Run area. This event is perfect for families and children uncomfortable with some of the conventions of Halloween, the lateness of official trick-or-treating, or the uncertainty of selecting neighborhoods to visit. The church parking lot on 1319 8th Street Drive will be lined with open trunks from which children may gather candy. Additionally, the multipurpose room will be open for social time, refreshments, and games. In several other room of the church, children may listen to a Halloween story or help out with this season’s mission project: Operation Christmas Child. Join us and tell your friends!

One week after Trunk-and-Treat, the youth group of WUMC, along with scouting organizations and other young people, will participate in a Box City simulation. This event will run from 4PM Saturday November 1 through 12:00PM Sunday November 2. Designed to raise awareness to poverty and hunger, these young people will craft a ‘town’ out of cardboard boxes on the church lawn and dwell in them for the evening. In conjunction with Box City, the young people will be receiving donations to support the local mission Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Community donations toward this cause will be accepted at the 8th Street Church during the hours of the event. For more information, click the newsletter link above.

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Sermon Cast – All You Need, Ever

Date: 10/12/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:1-7, 1 John 4:7-16
Description: Today was a special day in worship at WUMC. In honor, recognition, and thanks to community First-Responders, we hosted a service and luncheon, inviting many local fire fighters, police officers, emergency workers, and dispatchers to join us. Johnny Jolin offered several special music selections, and a memorial wreath was purchased in memory of those who are no longer with us.

The Scripture passage from our In Progress sermon series is apt for such a day as this. In the ‘road map’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, the pinnacle and goal of the Christian journey is sacrificial love.

The entire service for 10/12 is recorded on CD; if anyone would like a copy, please contact the church office.

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Sermon Cast – Undercover Glory

Date: 10/5/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:1-7, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

 

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Sermon Cast – In Progress: XXX Files

Date: September 28, 2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-7, Mark 7:14-23
Description: ‘Discipline’ and ‘self-control’ are unpleasant words. For a culture that values excess and my pleasure at the expense of others (just take a look at advertising slogans like Burger King’s “Have It Your Way”), curbing our appetites is neither stylish nor desirable. Yet, as 2 Peter 1:5-7 elaborates on the qualities of a maturing believer, self-control holds a prominent place.

In religious vocabulary, self-control seems confining. If our hearts are liable to all of the things Jesus warns about in Mark 7:21-22–sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly–is it really my responsibility to contain and resist all of those things? What dreadful and taxing tasks! I thought the life of faith was about hope and freedom (Galatians 5:1) rather than creating a new list of things I cannot do!

In reality, self-control is no via negative. Self-control is more than choosing what not to do. The athlete who spends hours training, rests well, and follows good nutrition is exercising self-control. Discipline–and consequently the life of faith–is all about instituting good and life-giving practices in ourselves. And if our hearts or full of these things, full of God (2 Peter 1:3), then we will simply have little room for damaging indulgence or excess.

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October 2014 Newsletter and Events

Fall is in full swing, and Watsontown United Methodist Church is taking every opportunity to live in to our mission to: know Jesus Christ, grow in Jesus Christ, and go be like Jesus Christ. The October 2014 edition of our monthly newsletter is sizzling off the press, and you may click the link –> HERE <– to read it for yourself! Each page is full chances to connect and serve with our faith community.

Perhaps you are interested in getting to know some new people or spending time with good friends on a scenic excursion? WUMC is hosting a train adventure to Jim Thorpe, PA on October 5th. Tickets cost $9 to $24 depending on which car one chooses (payable on location). A group will be car pooling from the church at 10:30AM and meet down at the train station together.October 12 will be a very special day at WUMC and in the greater Watsontown Community. On that Sunday, our 10:30AM worship service will honor and recognize the many first responders in our communities. This celebration will include a meaningful worship service followed by a light luncheon and social hour. First responders who plan to attend are asked to notify the church office so that we may prepare adequately. ALSO on October 12, the borough of Watsontown hosts the annual CROP Walk. CROP is an international movement to raise awareness for and combat hunger. This year’s CROP walk begins with registration at 1:30PM at the Watsontown Elementary School. The Walk will proceed to the Watsontown Park at 2:00PM (individuals may also arrive at the park without making this trek). No fundraising packets are required this year; instead a donation cover charge is requested of all children ($5) adults ($10) and families ($20 max). Events at the park will include a walk for kids, presentation by Kingdom Kidz Puppet Ministry, and more!

With Halloween just around the corner, Watsontown United Methodist Church invites the community to a wholesome family gathering on October 26th at 4PM. This is our annual Trunk and Treat event and provides a fun alternative and/or addition to normal trick-or-treating. Kids and families are welcome to stroll through our parking lot of decorated car trunks as volunteers hand out candy. Games, story time, refreshments, and a mission project will take place inside the WUMC class and multipurpose room. So pick out your best costume, and join the fun!

As always, we welcome you EVERY Sunday to join us for worship, prayer and study at 8:00AM (Praise Worship), 9:15AM (Sunday School), and 10:30AM (Traditional Worship). Come see what God is doing at WUMC!

 

 

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Sermon Cast – In Progress: Holy Know-It-All

Date: September 21, 2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-7, James 4:13-17
Description: According to the spiritual progression found in 2 Peter 1:1-7, ‘knowledge’ builds on the foundation of faith and good works (2 Peter 1:5). Business and political culture often inform us that success comes not through what someone knows but by who someone knows. The Christian life seeks a very similar ideal to know Jesus Christ in our inner being.

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Bible Study: It’s Good for You!

A month ago I was serving as the pastor of a summer church camp. During one of our worship services I asked the question: “Who wants to have a deeper relationship with God?” Every hand in the amphitheater shot skyward. The following week I addressed the same question to our congregation’s two worship services: “Who wants to have a deeper relationship with God?” Like a collection of compressed springs, every palm extended again. Of course, both occurrences were encouraging. Watsontown UMC’s vision is to “Know Jesus Christ, Grow in Jesus Christ, and Go be like Jesus Christ.” Motivation to attend church camp or a Sunday praise service ought to revolve around ‘drawing close to God,’ as James 4:8 puts it. God has made Godself clearly visible for all to see (Romans 1:20), and what more fulfilling connection could there be than knowing and being known personally by the gracious creator of the universe?

This ethereal inward longing aside, many of us are acutely aware that God neither feels continually present, nor do we always feel well-informed of the best means to foster our relationship with God. If I had a dime for every conversation I’ve had where someone said they hadn’t experienced God for a long time, I’d have a sizable collection. Someone I met in seminary used to talk fondly of a retreat center she went to as a teenager, then would lament how it had sometimes become difficult to experience God anywhere else. In our hearts there exists this deep longing for the living God in Jesus Christ (Ecclesiastes 3:11), yet when that longing is unfulfilled, we can be at a loss for a remedy.

More and more I grow convinced that Bible Study and regular attention to Scripture is part of the solution! The internal witness of Scripture is clear: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). As a school student, I had a voracious propensity to read books; my parents frequently had to check my room light late night to be sure I wasn’t still awake at the wee hours devouring another novel. It was in this reading that I could enter the experiences of characters who were not even real (I was a sci-fi junkie). How much more so can the many books of the Bible, who draw from the testimonies and experiences of people who knew God face-to-face, engage us in a living connection with Jesus Christ? For those who know the feeling of divine disconnection, the Bible stands read to offer us words of hope, encouragement, moral correction, wisdom and sustenance for the journey alongside Jesus Christ.

Is God’s Word in Jesus Christ feeding you?

The gospels record an interaction between Jesus and a young man who wants to know how to experience eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus’ reply is sometimes considered a brush-off: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments,” almost as if Jesus did not think the young man was being sincere. But what if Jesus’ response actually is well-meaning? This guy asks him “how do I find eternal life; how to I know God,” and Jesus’ automatic answer is “go to the commandments.” In other words, remember the Scriptures! Jesus is the true Word of God (John 1:14), yet the Bible is a socket we can plug into in order to illuminate God’s grace and reality in our hearts.

So take advantage of that Bible laying on your end table! Read a couple (or a collection!) of words today. Or better yet, take advantage of the many Bible Study and Sunday School opportunities we have here at Watsontown UMC. If the word of God is what we live by (Matthew 4:4), then leaving the Bible where it lies is simply bad nutrition!

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Sermon Cast – In Progress: God Wears Nikes

Date: 9/14/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-7, Deuteronomy 30:11-20
Description: For the second sermon of our ‘In Progress’ series, we discuss the next quality found in 2 Peter 1:5-7. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness…” Other translations call this word ‘good works’ or ‘virtue.’ As God produces faith in us, and as we exercise our faith (trust) in God, the natural outcome is a behavior change. I remember the first few  months after I made the conscious choice to follow Jesus Christ I wanted so desperately for all my thoughts and actions to make him happy, to follow his commands. This is not to say that I’ve changed my mind (far from it!), but after coming to trust that God had forgiven and redeemed my heart, I just naturally wanted to do good things out of gratitude to God’s grace. This, I think, is part of what it means for ‘goodness’ to come after ‘faith’ in 2 Peter 1:1-7.

A word of caution, though. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that God created us to do ‘good works’ in Christ Jesus, yet this should not be misconstrued as forgiveness depending on good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 pointed remind us that ‘grace through faith’ bring us back to God. So in our spiritual journeys, we do not do good things to make God like us, we develop virtue because God has already loved us.

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Sermon Cast – In Progress: Faith First

Date: 9/7/2013
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:1-9 and Mark 9:14-29
Description: We are beginning a new sermon series with the begin of a new school year. For teachers and students, the beginning of another semester is met with a cadre of emotions. Some are ecstatic to begin learning/teaching again. Others loathe the experience, waiting agonizingly until summer rolls around again. Whatever one’s feeling on the subject, school is ‘back in session.’ Of course, one of the undergirding hopes of our educational system is growth in our students, physically, emotionally, academically.

Growth is also key to the life of faith. Our new series is called “In Progress,” because all of us are a holy and purposeful project under God’s direction. For six weeks we will be studying 2 Peter 1:1-9 in depth, looking intently at the process of spiritual development described in verses 5-7. These virtues and traits–faith, goodness, knowledge, love–are both seed and fruit of what God grows in us through Christ Jesus; and by the same token, these are the seeds and fruits for which we should strive in our journey to follow Jesus  more and more closely.

This morning, we discuss the foundation of it all: Faith. Faith is not simply an assertion without evidence. Faith is not some external commodity that I try to find or that God takes form elsewhere and puts inside of me. Faith is foremost an action–like love–whereby I TRUST God. Faith is trust. Trust in God’s promises. Trust that there is something and someone bigger than you or I who has a design behind the chaos we call life. It should go without saying that if we want the other godly traits to grow in us–love, virtue, godliness, affection, knowledge–that process will be severely hindered if we do not actually TRUST (i.e. have faith) that God is working those things in us.

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