Q&A: How do we see God [Beyond Sunday]

Across generations, the people of God have created metaphors and imagery to explain God, imagine God, and relate to God. Children asked to draw God will often picture someone who cares for them and teaches them about God. As adults, how we imagine God can have a subtle but profound impact on how we live our faith.

Quick Q&A:

  • What does God look like? The Bible gives us lots of imagery for God
  • Is God a He? Yes, especially when we’re talking about the human/divine Jesus. For all of God, She and They (singular) are also appropriate.
  • Does the way we imagine God affect how we live our faith? Yes.

Full Sermon: How Do You See God? Nov 10, 2019

Reflect: What images of God do you find helpful or comforting?

Small steps:

  • Check out the UMC’s primer on who is God.
  • Find an image from art or life that helps you imagine God and journal about what that picture says to your faith.

Long Strides:

  • Spend some time with a scripture that images God. Pray through it and respond to it by creating visual art that reflects what it teaches you about God.
  • Ask someone else how they see God and mediate on their answer and how it relates to you.
  • Gather images of God from Christians around the world. Study what each one reflects about their culture and God. Create a devotion or series of devotions around the images and share them with your Sunday School or Small Group.

Q&A: What is most necessary for being a Christian? [Beyond Sunday]

Scripture: 1 John 2:3-5 Instructions to love one another

Though we won’t often admit it, we all like to know our boundaries. What is the minimal effort required, what is the most that is acceptable. We might not always color inside the lines, but we like knowing where the lines are. So perhaps we find ourselves asking questions like: What is the least you can believe and still be Christian? or What must I do to be saved? The questions are eternal, and so is the answer. As Jesus said, love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Quick Q&A:

  • Does everyone need salvation? Yes
  • Does Christ offer salvation to everyone? Yes
  • Do I have to go to church to be saved? God does the work of salvation, church helps us grow in our love for God and neighbor.

Full Sermon: What is Necessary for Salvation? Oct 20, 2019

Reflect: What actions this week displayed your love for God and neighbor?

Small steps:

  • Do one random act of kindness for someone every day for a week and journal a prayer about it each night.
  • Write to your Senator or Congressional Representative on be half of a neighbor in need.
  • Write thinking of you cards and send to three people who might need encouragement.

Long Strides:

  • Read When Helping Hurts and reflect on how it calls us to love our neighbors.
  • Find a holiday season volunteer opportunity and commit part of your November/December to serving others.
  • Connect with an organization like CASA* and be trained to advocate for neighbors.

*Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. Learn more here

Q&A: What happens when I pray? [Beyond Sunday]

Scripture: James 5:13-20 Prayer for ourselves and others

James exhorts us to pray in the midst of suffering and celebration. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. Again and again we hear the power of prayer exhorted. But exhortation doesn’t necessarily answer all our questions. There is great power in prayer, and it is an essential part of our faith life. But what if that power is bigger and wilder than what we imagine with our well loved platitudes.

Quick Q&A:

  • Does God always hear our prayers? Yes
  • Why doesn’t God answer every prayer? God always answers, just not always in the way we expect or with what we hoped for; sometimes the answer is no, or not right now.
  • If God is in control of everything, do our prayers matter? Yes.

Full Sermon: What Happens When I Pray? October 13, 2019

Reflect: When you pray, what do you expect to happen? How do your expectations affect the way you follow up on prayer?

Small steps:

  • Check out the 5-finger prayer to use with a child in your life.
  • Set aside at least 10 minutes for prayer every morning this week.
  • Keep a journal with what you pray for on the left pages and what happens on the right.

Long Strides:

  • Read The Cloud of Unknowing and reflect on how it describes prayer.
  • Gather a group of friends and commit to share prayer time together once a week. Reflect together on how your prayers are answered.
  • Take a 3-day silent retreat to listen for what God might be saying in response to your prayers.

Called to Let Go[Beyond Sunday]

Peter says in Acts “God is no respecter of persons”, meaning God does not show partiality. The world marks all kinds of status divisions, wealth, influence, age, race, gender. The Church as the body of Christ should be without partiality, but often we can be as infatuated with status as any other community. Our discipleship calls us to rise above and see the image of God in all.

Have you ever been honored for your contributions of time or treasure? How did it feel? Were you more or less inclined to give again?

Have you ever refrained from supporting a ministry or program because you didn’t like an aspect of it? What would Mary McLeod Bethune have said to that?

Small steps:

  • Make a list of places you give time or money. Ask yourself how you chose those.
  • List places you used to give time or money along with the reason you stopped. Were any of those about a need for control?

Long Strides:

  • Pray about one place you could give time or treasure that has no benefit for you.
  • Make all of your giving for 1 year anonymous. Reflect on how that changes your attitude.

This is Us: We Are Faithful [Beyond Sunday]

God crafts congregations with unique hearts and gifts; part of DPUMC’s heart is faithfulness. We believe in growing in knowledge pushes you to grow in deeds. We show up for God and for one another and we put our values of Welcome, Family, and Compassion into action wherever we go.  [hear sermon audio]

Devotion time is crucial to your growth in faith.  Here are some resources for yours this week:


Parable of the Two Sons: Matthew 21:28-32

God at work in the world: Psalm 68

Contamination by the world: 2 Timothy 3:1-9


  • Ask yourself daily: What specific action did I do today that reflected my faith to others?


  • Commit to Show Up: Fall is a great time to get involved in something new. Commit to spend this semester in a new space: a Bible study, with a small group of people, a service ministry, or doing regular devotions.


  • Share an invitation to church. Invite someone to come with you next week and experience our faithfulness.


Just Be Yourself: Part 3

This past Sunday I preached at Chapelwood (2nd time in a month, crazy).  Over the last several days I’ve posted parts of that sermon.  (So as not to be cruel to the readers attention span…trust me its more entertaining when I’m making facial expressions).  So far we’ve talked about not getting so wrapped up in yourself (even your own faith) that you miss the doing part of faith.  There is actually a great freedom in being yourself, and when Christians move out of the mirror and into the world, amazing things happen.

James says,” Forget the mirror stuff. It’s not real. It’s make up and hair gel. Look Underneath. Try to see yourself as God sees.”

You’ll find, before anything we make or build or craft, our lives are a gift. Born in flesh and word, you are good and perfect and loved.  You are first fruits, a holy offering. Strip everything else away and what you see is that you are Imago Dei, the Image of God.

You always have been. And that is all you ever have to be.

That is true freedom, Freedom to step away from the mirror and into the better part of life. You don’t have to focus on yourself, because you know God has that covered. You can listen more than you speak, because you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. You can be humble and slow to anger because nothing Someone else says or does can ever threaten who You are. Don’t get stuck in the mirror, just be yourself. And when the people of God do that…

When Christians live as the people God created them to be, the world is changed.

When we are as God created us to be, children are cared for.

When we are as God created us, widows and the elderly are looked after.

When we are as we’re created the hungry are fed and the thirsty drink.

The sick are healed and the imprisoned comforted.

When we are as we’re created the homeless find shelter

the blind find sight

the dead find life

When we are as we’re created the powerful are brought down to listen and the powerless raised up to speak.

When Christians are as we’re created, the world is changed

And our calling is nothing less than to be the kingdom God created us to be.

Study, devotion, Self reflection are all important but they should play out in our lives. If faith makes us constantly fixate on ourselves, we risk missing the best part of Life.
We risk building a faith that is only a mirror image, too insubstantial to survive the real world. We risk teaching a faith that looks great on Sunday morning but is forgotten the moment we step away.

Don’t be only hearers, but also doers of the word–Don’t get stuck in the mirror, just be the Image of God you were created to be.

See the funny thing about the Image of God is, it works best when you don’t stare directly at it.  N.T. Wright, an Anglian theologian, uses a beautiful image in some of his lectures.  He says the Image of God is not such that you can stare directly at yourself in a mirror and find it. Rather it is as if the mirror is tilted so that our reflection is lifted up to God And God is reflected out into the world.

Don’t worry about who you’re going to be, or how others see you.  Just be who God created you to be because there are a lot of people out there who need to see God.
This is the full life of discipleship. Be doers of the Word. Check in with the mirror, but then more on to the other 6 days of faith. Carry it out to the world, because when the people of God live as they are created to be–day by day, moment by moment– that is how the world is changed for the glory of God.

Just be yourself… and dare to watch God do the rest.