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The Good of Life Is Everywhere

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It all started with a breakfast burrito. If you just let life hit you, so much can happen; we’re all a fraction of a second away from something great happening, or just something good, however insignificant it may seem. Something went incredibly right when I woke up this morning to sunshine and blue skies, and just exploded from there. My oldest daughter, Nicki, is in town, heading to a Cubs game today with my wife Natalie. Not only did I get to start my day seeing Nicki, I’m glad for the chance for the two of them to spend the day together, and for Natalie getting some much needed time away from regular life, enjoying this day, perfect for a Cubs game.

The great day continued while taking...

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For a Moment the Egg Stood Still


Egg-ProjectI was grabbing some stuff off the table and almost bumped it, which normally wouldn’t be any big deal. I glanced across the table and saw the Egg; now the egg as been standing there for how many hours ever since Trevor stood it up there to test it since the Fall, Winter solstice, something equinox. Something I glanced about online. Don’t know much about it, something about a full moon and balance, symmetry, gravity. Something that allows an egg to stand on the tip of it, like a big air balloon. So I see this egg and it’s standing there, and it’s just one of those million times that happens to you moments and that’s the moment that I’m really going to get it and learn and see all those great moments in life and I’m going to make sure I don’t miss them....

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If You're a Church, Share Your Positive Stories!


Hey Northwest Indiana folks! If you have any positive stories, photos, videos, or any other related media that is positive in nature, please send it to us! Especially if you're a church or other religious organization, we would love to hear from you! Our communities of faith strengthen our community and ourselves and there's always something positive going on in these groups. Whether you're having a bake sale or raising money for orphans or just worshipping and collaborating as a group, tha'ts good news and is meant to be shared. Send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and we will publish whatever positive content you have to offer. Watch this video from our Publisher, Chris Mahlmann, about contributing.

 

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Three Questions: Life in the Middle


Life-in-the-MiddleThe Sermon Study Guide is here.

Romans 6:15-23; Luke 13:10-17
February 27, 2011 • Portage First UMC

Several years ago, I was visiting a member of this congregation in the hospital shortly before she was to be taken to a rehab facility. In fact, as we were chatting, the transport arrived and said it was time to go, so I told her I would walk out with her. As we left, she introduced me to the people who were her transport, and when the EMT found out I was a pastor at a Methodist...

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A Trip to the Holy Land: A Tour or a Pilgrimage?


holy-land-mapWhat started as an innocent offhand remark will (Lord willing) turn into an adventure in less than a week.

It was almost a year ago as I was leading a Bible study that I made the comment, "One of my goals is to travel to the Holy Land." As the words came out of my mouth, the thought in my head was, "If I don't plan to do it, it will never happen."

That thought led me to dig through a stack of mail on my desk. (This is mail that I pile up in anticipation of the day when the stack threatens to topple over. At that point, the stack is sorted through and most of it goes into a recycle bin....

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Why: Staying on the Altar


Staying-on-the-AltarThe Sermon Study Guide is here.

Romans 12:1-2; Mark 3:31-35; Genesis 22:1-14
January 16, 2011 • Portage First UMC

Never before had God asked someone to do this. And never would God ask someone to do this again. But the old man hiking up the mountain didn’t know that. All he knew was that God had spoken to him and asked him to do what was unthinkable: “Take your son, your only son, whom you love— Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt...

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Waiting


When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” (Matthew 11:2-3). Waiting

We are deep into the season of waiting. Advent is all about waiting. It is a time of “getting ready,” but most of us treat these four weeks as the time when we hurry and hustle and take care of details. Buy presents, cook food, put up decorations, and participate in as many parties and programs as we possibly can (we’re currently at 3 programs and 2 parties...and counting...). Not to mention the special worship services we feel compelled to attend! We “wait” by doing things,...

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Out of the Darkness


The Small Group Guide is here. Out-of-the-darkness

John 1:1-14 December 12, 2010 • Portage First UMC

And so, the journey continues. We are spending the season of Advent this year sailing along with the crew of the Dawn Treader, a ship in the magical land of Narnia that is on a mission to find seven lost Lords. The ship, the story and the land of Narnia are, of course, the creation of the great author C. S. Lewis, and it could be argued that this story, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is his most symbolic piece of...

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Return to Hope: As Close As Our Own Skin


The Small Group Study Guide is here. Return-to-Hope

Luke 1:26-38; Hebrews 12:1-3; Jeremiah 13:22-25 December 5, 2010 • Portage First UMC

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it” (Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, pg. 3). We met Eustace briefly last week as we began our journey alongside the crew of the Narnian ship The Dawn Treader in C. S. Lewis’ third book in the Chronicles of Narnia. (The latest film adaptation of this book comes out this Friday.) Lewis’ first...

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Strength


May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:11-12). Strength

I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man!

It’s not great music, and it’s horrible grammar, but this song and its associated cartoon character were, in my childhood, one of the symbols of strength....

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Gladness


Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2). Gladness

What would it look like if we took this command seriously? Worship the Lord with gladness...the Hebrew word behind that means a lot of things: joy, pleasure, mirth, rejoicing, and gladness among them. All of them have one thing in common: they are exceedingly positive words. They are words associated with smiles, with happiness, with good feelings. But are they the sorts of words we associate with worship? Or do these words more likely conjure up images of family gatherings, baseball games and good food?

The...

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