Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tomorrow is Christ The King Sunday. This is a special Sunday ending the Church year, and next Sunday is the first Sunday of four Sundays of Advent which begins the Church year by celebrating Christ's coming into our world. I can't think of a more fitting way to end the Church year and begin a new one than by reconsidering Christ my King, Christ Our King, for Christ Is King!

please find the link to the video i posted to go along with this post, it's great! (Click on my name 'brian sanderson' in orange beside my pic. just to your right and up a bit)

His peace,

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Greeting brothers and sisters in Christ,

Last week i was privileged enough to spend several days an event, 'Leadership Institute' in Kansas at The Church of the Resurrection the largest United Methodist Church in the U.S. This retreat is a requirement for the second year Residents In Ministry in the Fl Conference.

To be quite honest i felt as if my time would be best spent serving the people in Ocala and getting administrative needs done, and a Sermon ready for the upcoming Sunday worship service. I even confessed my reluctancy to the Church the previous Sunday with the additional confession that it's usually when we feel this way about a retreat that God works the most in our lives. This retreat didn't disappoint! For me the breakout sessions were good, there was plenty of helpful offerings but no new content covered. Mostly, for me it was the worship and surrounding Spirit of solidarity in mission that encouraged me most.

My greatest takeaway came from observing this Church's laity in mission. These Christians epitomized the gift of hospitality, they wanted everyone to feel welcomed and helped. Everyone worked together with a sense of purpose and mission that carries over into all of their ministries especially outreach ministries.

I am proud to say that I also serve a Church that is loving toward one another and cares deeply for their community. It is my prayer that I can be open to the Spirit's leading and model for Druid Hills UMC and our community the mission God has called me to.

May we know that God has called us.
May we all discover our gifts for ministry and glorify God with our lives.

Pastor Brian

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Sweep of the Bible

Last Wednesday we began a 10 week study of the Bible called 'Invitation.' This study was put together by one of my favorite seminary professors Dr. Brian Russell and takes participants on a journey from creation to new creation. We had a great experience together. First, we played a game, then watched Dr. Russell's video lesson, then discussed the teachings/learnings in small groups.
At the end of the session we closed with a challenge to invite/bring someone next week followed by praying for our Church family, friends, our community, and our world.
I don't know where you are geographically as you read this, so you may be outside of the reach of this particular study, But please know that God invites you continuously to a lifelong study of God's Word. As God's people we yearn to spend time with God to know God more intimately and to know that which we are called to be and to do.
At our Church we recently began a sermon series from the book of James entitled Back-2-Basics. The idea is for Christians to get back to the basics of knowing and following God in order that we might know and serve God better. The first Basic of the series was reading/studying God's Word the Scriptures. SO will you also accept the challenge to read and study God's Word? If so, also find others who you can join with. If you do…Your life, the life of others, and our world will be transformed. You're Invited.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Recently I begun a short series from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. I have focused on Ch.4 1-32. There are some amazing lessons/principles for us to learn and live by in these few verses of scripture.

I. In (Vv.1-16). (please go and read) Paul calls the Church a "body of Christ" and this "body" must function as members of one another.
God has gifted each believer to do the work of ministry and we can all use our gifts and abilities in the local communities of faith (no matter your age) to build up the body of Christ. Did you realize that you were a Body Builder? Which naturally leads to the next question, "what kind of shape are you/we in?"

II. (Vv.17-32). Since we are members of one another and ONE in Christ we are to be holy as Christ is holy ('Walk worthy' v.1) becoming what He created and desires for us to be. This 'walk' is a particular walk that is in step with the ways of Christ and not of this world. Paul reminds the Church that once we are saved we receive a new identity. Our new identities in Christ take discipline to perfect, so we naturally desire to imitate Christ and this takes effort. I use to tell my students in youth ministry that it may be better to think about discipleship as training and not practice which carries a negative connotation.

The good news is that Christ has provided all of the resources we need: the Holy Spirit, and one another

May we as ONE Body continue to walk worthy of our calling

Pastor Brian

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Theology for Thursday

I have been preaching from the book of John the last few Sundays. Last Sunday and this Sunday focus on Jesus as the 'Bread of Life.' We could actually spend five Sundays discussing this issue but we will most likely only need two. I found it interesting and informative to run across all of the "i Am" statements again that Jesus makes in John's Gospel.
"I am he" (4:26)
"I am the bread of life" (6:35)
"I am living bread" (6:51)
"I am the light of the world" (8:12; 9:5)
"Before Abraham was, I am" (8:58)
"I am the sheep's door" (10:7)
"I am the door" (10:9)
"I am the good shepherd" (10:11)
"I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25)
"I am the way, the truth, the life" (14:6)
"I am the true vine" (15:1)

He Is! But (I am) had its beginning with a burning bush story, and not just the one concerning Moses and holy ground. I have had a burning bush experience when i experienced God in a profound way and heard God call me, send me, and encourage me in spite of my perceived flaws. Have you encountered I am? God comes to us, and lives among us in so many ways. May we once again come to know the many faceted Jesus-gift of life and share it with the world.

In THE I am, Brian

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Think About Such Things

So as I was leaving out of the sanctuary this afternoon my attention was drawn to a section near the doors containing various materials pertaining to the available ministries of the Church. I read through some of the flyers and then my attention was drawn to the upper room devotionals. Now understand I am in no short supply of reading/devotional material but was led to take one with the desire to follow along devotionally with the congregation.
As you may be learning we follow along in the Scriptures on Sundays together why shouldn't we be in sync the rest of the week? This isn't a necessity but it is amazing to stop and consider how God's Word-the same precise Word-is penetrating the mind and heart of God's people. Even more astounding is how this same Word for a multitude of people on the same day will have something in particular for each individual.
I prayerfully read and considered the text Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "Brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Then I am challenged by the author of this devo. Delores Kight to focus on each of these virtues daily as the vices connected to them invade our thoughts and activities.

Monday: Whatever is True (think about such things)
Tuesday: Whatever is Noble (think about such things)
Wednesday:Whatever is right (think about such things)
Thursday: Whatever is pure (think about such things)
Friday: Whatever is lovely (think about such things)
Saturday: Whatever is admirable (think about such things)
Sunday: Whatever is praiseworthy (think about such things)

For me the idea and hope of a simple exercise as this is to allow the sanctifying work of the Spirit authority in my life, and i know that for me there's always work to be done. So may the "whatevers" in your life that's working against the virtuous calling in Christ be redeemed by the gracious work of His Spirit.

In Him with You
Pastor Brian

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Bit of my calling to ministry

Describing My call to ministry (Don’t miss yours)
   It is a joy to be able to share with you the most amazing thing in my life, that being a relationship with Jesus Christ and God’s call to a vocation of ministry. First and foremost “calling” as a disciple of Jesus Christ pertains to wherever and whatever one’s context may be with a focus toward being a disciple who in turn makes more disciples. “Calling is the truth that God calls to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.”[1]  
   This calling came to me as it has to all humanity, a calling to know God and to be in right relationship with God through the Son Jesus Christ and follow Christ’s way of living (my paraphrase of Romans 8:28-30). Calling in its purist form results in Christian Perfection, the goal of God’s grace. John Wesley described it as, “The loving of God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This implies that no wrong temper, none contrary to love, remain in the soul; and that all the thoughts, words and actions, are governed by pure love.”[2] 
   I discern a specific call to a vocation of ministry. I answered God’s primary call when I surrendered my life wholly to Christ and the mission of the kingdom at the age of twenty-one, and haven’t turned back. I immediately pursed Christian education at Bible College[3] where I obtained a degree in education in hopes of teaching in the public school system. All the while I was sensing God’s call to ministry but felt too young and inexperienced. The inner witness of my spirit with God’s spirit and the church has since affirmed my calling; I know I am called to serve the church.
   Admittedly, I have rebelled and wrestled with my calling. I considered long and hard the possibilities of any other profession but none were as sweet and pleasing as a life of service in God’s church. My thoughts and plans always concern God and leading God’s people. My heart has been completely renovated toward a reorientation of desires leaving me with no other fulfilling option for life.
Licensing/Commissioning/Ordination at Fl Annual Conf  2014
with Faith, Abbey, and Rev. Bob Laidlaw (friend, mentor, and golf coach)  

   I began exploring my calling upon graduating college by serving the people and ministries of F.U.M.C, Madison as youth pastor. As this ministry began I immediately fell in love with ministering to people and knew this was my calling. Serving people on behalf of God brings me great honor and joy. Youth ministry was a great privilege and wonderful opportunity, one I committed fully to for twelve years. As the years went by, one day I just knew it was time to pursue seminary education and ordination to become a pastor. I thank God for Godly leaders and mentors who were instrumental in my discernment process. Seminary seemed on the surface to be an insurmountable goal, one that led me to place my predicament and family into God’s care. God had a plan the whole time and inspired the church to fully enable me to pursue a seminary education without the worry and added pressure of debt.  Youth ministry, serving others, my family, mentors, and seminary has been God’s affirmation of my calling revealing what I was created for and gifted to do.   
   I hope that my gifts could best be used in service to God through the ministries of The United Methodist Church.  This far my calling to a vocation of ministry has led me to serve Lee UMC in Madison, Fl. for two years and currently Druid Hills UMC in Ocala, Fl. My family and I couldn’t be more proud to be here in this great community with these folks! It has been amazing to see God's faithfulness each time we step out and trust God's lead. 
   Calling includes a humble submission to the forward movement of life with God. “It’s all about moving forward in that relationship, following wherever he leads us, as God’s child, as Christ’s partner, friend, disciple. In relationship with God through Christ, we can become our true selves. We discover that the more we are his, the more we are ourselves!”[4] Here I stand, in humble adoration, surrendering my all to God’s summons. 
   My hope is to faithfully live out my calling. If done well others will also discover and fulfill God’s call on their lives. This is my hope in sharing my calling with you, that you hear the whisper of God’s Spirit and allow Him to move you forward into the life you were created for. God has been, is, and will be on your side!   

God Bless, 
Pastor Brian Sanderson

[1] Guinness, Os. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. (Nashville; Thomas Nelson, 1998) P. 29.
[2] Wesley, John. A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. (Kansas; Beacon Hill Press, 1966) P. 51.
[3] The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Fl.
[4] Johnson, Reg. “The Call: Discerning Life’s True Purpose,” 2004. IS 502. Asbury, summer 2009. P.3.