We begin a lenten season focusing on the weeping tree and the way that the tree became a symbol of suffering, death, and resurrection as it was formed into a cross.  We have the chance during these 40 days to observe a holy lent, to be focused on putting God first, and reminding ourselves how we can become more like Jesus.  Join us for Ash Wednesday worship to begin the season.

 

Blessings,
Karin

"Let justice roll down like everlasting waters."

If you have watched the news lately, you know that there are major events impacting large numbers of people: the Ebola outbreak, human trafficking, sheer brutality by Muslim extremists, domestic violence highlighted by the NFL, and much more. The question for us as Christians is how do we respond so that we are always people of hope? How do we engage in healthy conversations to empower change? 

So, as we stand around the water cooler at work, and the coffee bar at church, and in the yoga studio, talking with folks who are angry and frustrated, and feeling hopeless about the world, we can change the conversation! We can effect change by asking alternative questions:

  1. Where do you see God being able to impact the situation?
  2. Is there anyone working for good in the midst of it?
  3. What words of grace can you add to the conversation?

When we reflect hope and peace and joy, we become more like Jesus!

Blessings,
Karin

Dear Friends,
The art of discipleship is being able to discern how God is teaching us to be more like Jesus and how we can deepen our relationship with Jesus. Last year, we spoke about moving from membership to discipleship and this year we are challenging our congregation to dive deeper. What will you do this season to be more like Jesus and to commit to the ways of the kingdom? We are asking our members to do three things during this diving deeper season:

  1. Do something radically hospitable for someone (may be engaging in conversation with your server at a restaurant, finding out he is a college student, and leaving and extra tip; it may be agreeing to provide a family a whole Thanksgiving meal and delivering it to the family on the Sunday before Thanksgiving; it might be babysitting for a neighbor just so they can have a date night. The possibilities are endless!!
  2. Discern a way that you can figure out what you can do for God and just do it (may be serving at a soup kitchen, buying gifts for a needy family, etc.)
  3. Tell somebody about your faith and invite them to church (someone you know needs a Savior in her/his life friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors).

Thank you for your willingness to dive deeper into discipleship and commit 100% of who you are to Christ.
Blessings for the journey,
Karin

The weeks after Easter are always difficult for me. Easter is such a pivotal event in my life. It is a reminder to me of how much God really loves us and I spend the Lenten season preparing my heart and our congregation for the resurrection and the tremendous worship celebration. I am so grateful for the folks who make the Easter worship celebrations possible—it really does take a whole church to do what we do! But when the reality of the days after Easter ring clear with the suffering of loved ones, the chaos in the world, and the hardships of those struggling with addictions and broken relationships, it brings me back to earth—too quickly. Yet it is exactly for those times that Jesus comes in the first place. It is a reminder that we can call on Him for every day of our lives and having been reminded of God's love at Easter, we are strengthened and encouraged for the long haul. My hope is that the power of Easter sees you through all of your days, good and bad. For we are Easter people!

Praise be to a God who loves us.,
Karin

Lent is an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with God and to renew the right spirit within us. I invite you to observe a holy lent this year through fasting, prayer, meditation, the reading of God's word, and almsgiving.

We often hear people talk about "giving up something for Lent." The whole purpose of that concept is to let loose that which is not good for you and replace it with a focus on God. So, if you fast lunch Monday through Fridays, during that time, perhaps you could read your devotional and reflect on it during that time frame. The key is to draw closer to Christ as we walk toward the cross.

You have been sent via email a Lenten devotional and hard copies are also available. This is a great resource to use for the season. You may also have joined one of the small groups specifically designed for Lent. There is quite a variety meeting Monday evenings, Tuesday mornings, Thursday
evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday during both our worship services.

We have 40 days to observe lent. What a great opportunity to rid ourselves of that which keeps us from right relationship with God and to focus our hearts on Christ.

I hope your life will be transformed by the journey to the cross as we travel together.

In Christ,
Karin

"Unto you is born in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

What will make this year's Christmas celebration memorable for you?  Whether it is a family tradition, a funny happening at the feast table or with the apple pie, a heart-felt gift, or the presence of family and friends, my hope for you is that this is a blessed Christmas for you and yours.

To that end, we have written an advent/Christmas devotional to use from December 1 through the 12 days of Christmas on January 5. We hope that you will find it helpful for your personal use or for use with family and friends. Each day, there is a scripture, thoughts to ponder, and a prayer.

Deb Sugg has done a great job collecting some resources and unique ways to think about Christmas. The concept of "Christmas is not your birthday" is a great approach to a non-consumer Christmas.

Add to that alternative gifts for people in your life that we are calling "Angel Gifts" and you have wonderful options for celebrating people in your life.

We have added a Christmas Eve worship service this year at 11am followed by lunch provided by the staff.  It's our way of saying thanks to you and we hope you would consider joining us. What a great way to start the day! Join us for worship on Christmas Eve at 11am, 4pm, 7pm, and 11pm.

Blessings,
Pastor Karin

Dear Friends,

As we come into the month of November, what will it take for us to put on an attitude of gratitude.

On Thanksgiving Day, no problem—we are grateful. But how about black Friday when we can't get into the parking lot, or enthusiastic shoppers butt in line, and the economists continue the speculation about the recovery, or the next government shut down. Nevertheless, there is much, so much, for which to be thankful. A great spiritual discipline is to awaken each morning and offer God thanks for 3 things each day and then do the same every evening.

On November 3 in worship, you will receive a special paper on which to record daily what you are thankful for. Not only are you honoring God, your whole spirit will be changed by this exercise and you will be amazed at how blessed you are...and humbled as a result. Then, we are ready for the season of Advent.

We will give thanks in church each week—for the saints, for veterans, for simple gifts, for food and shelter, family and friends.

Thanks,
Pastor Karin

Sunday was our second Sunday in our series on moving from Membership to Discipleship.  Disciples give sacrificially.  I put a challenge out there to the congregation inviting people to double their offering for the month of October to pick up a friend who cannot give as much right now because of the government shut downs and resulting lay offs and furloughs.  So far, three individuals or families have done this!  Thank you so much!  I was asked by someone today how we know it is a sacrificial gift.  I think the best way to gauge that is this:  If you need to rely on God to help prioritize your life, then you are giving sacrificially. 

We give because we have a need to give.  It is a spiritual discipline that reminds us that we truly are dependent on a God who provides for us.  Thanks for all you do on behalf of Fallston Church.

Blessings,

Karin

 

Dear Friends and Members,

I hope you will enjoy our series "from membership to discipleship." Each of us really has "arrived" at Fallston Church by some plan of God, be it by the twisted arm of a spouse or parent, or out of a sense of commitment to Christ. No matter what the reason, the important paradigm for us to think about is, if God has arranged things so that you could be here, what does God want? How are we to be blessed by it and how can we be a blessing to others?
I am hopeful you will join me in committing to these 5 weeks a spirit of intentionality about your own faith journey. God is calling you to something. Use this season in your life to rekindle your relationship with Christ and renew your passion for serving Him.

Blessings,
Karin

Dear students of all ages,

You are now back at school and beginning a new year of learning, fun, making friends (ok—maybe a little boredom too), and facing challenges that you did not anticipate. You will have great days of triumph and wins, and you will have a few days that are disappointing. Please know that Fallston Church will be praying for you and thinking about you. We pray that this will be a great year in your life and that you will be blessed!

We also desire that you be a blessing unto others. There will be kids in class or the dorm who are different than you--perhaps school work does not come easy for them. Others will not have the coolest clothes or new things to wear. And others will sit by themselves and find it hard to make friends. My hope is that you will be like Jesus and be kind, inclusive, and encourage others to be the same. Don't participate in bullying behavior, ridiculing others, or say things that are hurtful and bigoted.

Thank you for the witness you will be! Have a wonderful first week of school. Know that our prayers are with you!

Blessings,
Pastor Karin

I’m amazed at how willing 134 middle high kids, including 15 from Fallston (and 6 adults from FUMC), are to be unplugged for a week. Granted, they may sneak their phones at night or Facebook but they are not walking around with their head in the phone all day texting. And….I’m amazed at how unnatural it is even for us adults to be unplugged. We were allowed to keep our phones but it isn’t good form, I’m told, to stand around texting. We might run into a pole or trip over a tree. And the internet is broken, so we are told. When we have church—twice a day—it is the most diverse and energetic worship you can imagine. A true melting pot of cultures. Goofy yet relevant, and ever so real. In our small group, where we have Anglos, African Americans, Hispanic folks, they raised the issues around Trayvon Martin’s death and how some are afraid of being shot before they grow up and others are afraid of those of another ethnic group at their school, they wanted to talk about bullying, especially of gay students that they go to school with, they want to know more about how they can make the world better, and of course they wanted to know why Princess Kate had to get permission to name her baby. I think we should all go to camp, get unplugged, and get real—we just might figure out how to Be Like Jesus a little more.

Blessings,

Pastor Karin

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light of the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” John 8: 12

Hopefully you caught the BIG MOON this week. I was amazed at how much the darkness was lit by the moon on Sunday night. I also know it doesn’t take a big light to make a difference in total darkness. One never realizes how many fire flies there actually are until the lights of suburbia can no longer be seen. The good news for us is that Jesus is the big light in our lives and He calls us to be the light which gives light. Even if we are but a fire fly in comparison, the light does shine! We’ve been talking about our vision statement, Be LIKE Jesus. Humble, Hospitable, Hope-filled get us closer as the key characteristics so that the world shines brighter because of us. I would love to share stories of how our friends and members are lighting up this dark world by being like Jesus—by being meek as an ox, showing radical hospitality to someone, and sharing a smile and a word of hope. Please email me your experiences that I might share them in an upcoming sermon. Please! I Thessalonians implores us to “encourage one another and build each other up!” We can gain strength and encouragement from one another.

Blessings,

Pastor Karin

I read an article recently about belief in moral absolutes. People who believe there are any stand at 22%, down from 38% 10 years ago. People aged 36 or younger were the least likely to believe in moral absolutes.

There are, however, a couple of absolutes that we as Christians bank on. First, it is an absolute for us that God is good. Regardless of the mishaps and suffering in the world and in our individual lives, our faith would be shattered if we could not believe that God is good. And because God is good, God is able to help us through the difficult times and help us seek meaning out of our suffering. God is there to form a blessing out of the awfulness of life. As we continue to pray for brothers and sisters in Oklahoma, may we be reminded that we also are to be like Jesus. We are to help diminish the suffering of others by doing what we can to help. See the list of items we are collecting for health kits.

Second, God is present. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we trust that God is always available and involved. Somehow, either through the hands and hearts of others, through prayer, through praise, we can sense the Holy. But we must make room for the Holy by setting aside time and space for God to be a part of our lives. If we are to be like Jesus, we make time for worship, prayer, and Sabbath. Set some new patterns for your life this summer and see how God blesses you as a result. Commit to worship every week you are in town—not for your sake as much as a spiritual discipline God seeks of us.

Third, God requires obedience. Through Bible study, engagement with other Christians, and our own discernment, we know God loves us unconditionally and calls us to be perfected in our love toward God and each other. Sounds simple but the closer we walk with God, the harder it is. Join us in a Bible study or small group. Walk the journey with a friend. Challenge yourself and be renewed spiritually.
Three simple absolutes which keep us grounded in faith,
Pastor Karin