May 17, 2015
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-10,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
By God’s grace we are saved. Period. We long so badly to add to that statement. For example, it sounds much more logical to say, “By God’s grace and by doing good things we are saved.” Or, “By God’s grace and being baptized we are saved.” “By God’s grace and giving lots of money to the church we are saved.” But it’s simple: By God’s grace we are saved. It’s amazingly simple and incredibly complicated when you really stop and think about it. Our salvation is a gift that must be accepted but it can never, ever, ever, ever, ever be earned. That’s illogical, right? We all know that you get what you pay for. Rewards are earned.
Alas, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts so we might as well wrap our heads around God’s thoughts on grace and get over ourselves.
May 24 is the 275th anniversary of John Wesley’s conversion experience at Aldersgate. It wasn’t a conversion from no faith to faith in Jesus Christ but rather a conversion in his thinking about God’s grace. Wesley was a Christian all his life but had just come through a particularly difficult time in his life prior to this experience. Prior to the Aldersgate experience, Wesley believed that one must be made holy before Christ would reconcile them to God. This conversion was so profound it changed the way he viewed himself and God. Here are his words:
“In the afternoon I was asked to go to St Paul’s. The anthem was, ‘Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? But there is mercy with thee; therefore thou slalt be feared. …. O Israel, trust in the Lord: For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins.’
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Grace & Peace,
May 10, 2015
Women have been called to preach in the United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies since Methodism's earliest days. In 1749, Sarah Crosby was converted under the preaching of George Whitefield and John Wesley. By 1761, Crosby was publicly exhorting before nearly two hundred people. She consulted Wesley about her exhorting, because some complained that her exhortation looked and sounded like actual preaching. Wesley told her "...I don't see that you have broken any law. Go on calmly and steadily."
It would be another 207 years from the time Sarah Crosby’s conversion experience in 1749 to 1956, the year our General Conference voted to ordain women as clergy in full connection to the annual conference. That is an example of the kind of work that happens at the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
General Conference is a gathering of an equal number of elected clergy and laity from around the world. It is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.
In preparation for General Conference, our annual conference (consisting of 700 local congregations in our corner of Texas) will be reviewing 13 proposed resolutions for our Book of Discipline. The resolutions range from a rewording of our statement on human sexuality to a resolution on parsonage standards. The resolutions that will come before our annual conference in May of this year are seeking endorsement from the Texas Annual Conference body before sending them forward to General Conference.
As your pastor, I will be attending annual conference in Houston, May 24-27, as will our lay delegate, Charlie Wright. John Fuller, our Finance Committee Chairperson as well as our District Lay Leader, will attend as a district lay delegate.
Please pray for our annual conference and all the delegates for a spirit of unity, respect and the practice of holy conferencing.
If you’d like to read the proposed resolutions, go to www.txcumc.org/tac2015.
Grace & Peace,
May 3, 2015
I believe one of the highest priorities of the church must be ministry to and for children. The Christian faith is a gift to us from God and it is our responsibility and privilege to nurture that gift in our children. (And you’ve probably already figured out that by “our children” I always mean all children.) The statistics indicate that fewer and fewer people check off “Christian” when asked about religious preferences. That, in itself, is a good reason to teach our faith to the young…but that’s not a good enough reason. Let’s not teach our faith to the young because we’re afraid we’re not going to be in the majority. Let’s teach our faith to the young because we want for them the blessing that faith has been to us: the assurance of eternal life, the joy that comes from using our spiritual gifts for God, the encouragement we receive from a community of faith, and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others by imitating Christ.
A children’s ministry of the church is not simple or inexpensive or one-size-fits-all. An effective children’s ministry creates the conditions where children are nurtured into a relationship with God. It is purposeful, practical, and impactful. Important characteristics of an effective children’s ministry include:
-A commitment to children through adequate funding, personnel, child-friendly worship, planning and policies that protect and empower children
-An approach to Christian education that nurtures the mind, body, and soul of children with appropriate cognitive and practical learning opportunities
-Support for parents in their primary role as spiritual guides for their children
-A deliberate approach to identifying, calling, and developing strong adult leaders through training and adequate preparation
-Careful selection of curriculum and study materials
-Openness to the community, particularly the unchurched, so that children’s ministry becomes a tool of outreach
-Fruitfulness in terms of programmatic vitality, the observable spiritual growth of children, and the nurturance of healthy intergenerational relationships. These characteristics are drawn from the Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model developed by The LOGOS Ministry.
The fact that we have a children’s ministry that is already well on its way to meeting these criteria is a direct result of our children’s coordinator, Gayle Fuller and the faithful HIS Kids volunteers, Children’s Church helpers, Sunday school teachers, and Vacation Bible School volunteers.
Thanks be to all of them and thanks be to God for giving us the ongoing opportunities to teach our faith to the young and nurture their relationship with Him!
Grace & Peace,
On this Blue Sunday I’d like you to consider the “other side” of an overworked, under-funded system of child protective services. Take a moment to pray for these common but often unnoticed situations…
Please pray for:
-Foster parents who spend hundreds of their own dollars in preparation to be licensed.
-Foster children who are teased and bullied because of situations that exist at no fault of their own.
-Social workers who have impossible numbers of case loads.
-Foster parents who consistently love, teach, and cheer for the children in their care when others give up, get frustrated or ignore.
-Children who love their parents unconditionally.
-Families who are successfully reunited and healthy.
-Teachers who help foster children integrate into a classroom in the middle of the year.
-Therapists, medical personnel, physicians, law enforcement officers, first responders, attorneys, and a host of others who bear the burden of children’s pain by intervening on the children’s behalf.
-Volunteers who make a difference through CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), Rainbow Room, Child Advocates, and many other satellite child advocate agencies.
-Churches who minister to the specific needs of children who are abused and neglected, their families and foster families.
-Foster children who are separated from extended family, toys, pets, clothes, friends, teachers, church families, and extra-curricular activities.
Grace & Peace,
Do you ever hear the statement that a person can be a good, ethical, productive member of society without having to be Christian? There’s no argument, really, because basically the statement is true. The information the question is really digging for is: “What difference does it make if I’m a Christian?” This is my answer. I chose to be a good, ethical, productive member of society because I want to be a servant of the living God, not just a volunteer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing volunteerism; lots of great work is done by volunteers. The difference for me as a Christian is that not only do I volunteer, I include Christian witness as part of my work. No, I don’t hit people over the head with the Bible, so to speak, but I also don’t hesitate to let people know that I’m working as a loving response for what God has already done for me. I serve because Christ came to serve and I want to be just like him.
What got me thinking about this is that I’ve learned about a new event called, “Openly Secular Day.” Evidently some people who are “secular,” self-defined as atheist, agnostic, humanists, and free thinkers, feel discriminated against and not fully accepted because they are non-religious. As I listened to several of their testimonials, I was saddened to learn that as a result of a person’s decision to reject religion, they were, in turn, rejected by family, friends and people in their communities. It also made me sad that several of the individuals had been raised in the church, professed to love God at some point, had become disillusioned with religion, and decided to leave the church and abandoned their faith. The purpose of an Openly Secular Day is to recover a sense of community among like-minded people.
How do we, as Christians, walk alongside the non-religious in such a way that we are able to witness to our faith without pushing people away? How can we be zealous about our love for Christ and our genuine desire for others to have the same zeal without being pushy or judgmental? It’s just been on my mind. Now maybe it’s going to be on yours too.
Grace & Peace,
April 12, 2015
Recently I’ve been forced to think a great deal about balance. After my knee scope a couple of weeks ago, I was particularly annoyed at how completely powerless I felt without the use of one leg. Who knew that leg was so important to my mobility? I had to consider every time I sat down, “Is this chair too low? Will I be able to get back up?” And I had to think ahead. If I went to another room what did I have to take with me for any possible situation? Will I need my pain meds? Will I want my Nook? Where should I sit so I can get up to let Klondike out? For a day or so I started wearing a reusable shopping bag around my neck which contained all the stuff I could possibly want or need as I went from room to room. I learned how to manage the crutches and the bag – what a pitiful sight I must have been.
Let me say also, for the sake of transparency, I have only myself to blame for my situation. I had the option of staying with friends where I would have been waited on hand and foot. I had friends offer to come and stay with me too. I declined those offers. Shame on me.
All this gave me a wake-up call, a reminder, a connection that perhaps all of us have been taking for granted. In I Corinthians the Apostle Paul refers to the church as a body with many parts working cooperatively to give an effective witness to the world. He goes on to explain that in the church when one member suffers, all suffer and when one is honored, all are honored. We belong to one another.
One of the foundations of United Methodism is balance, part of which is a balance between clergy and laity. We are all baptized into ministry, clergy to specialized ministry and laity into generalized ministry, and we belong to one another. I’m so very grateful for the high level of commitment and active involvement shown by the laity of this church every day. You never cease to amaze me with your love for Christ, His Church and all people. Being shoulder to shoulder with you in ministry is exciting because God is accomplishing so much through us. We are welcoming more worship guests on Sundays, running out of room for the youth group, increasing in numbers and involvement in UMW and UMM, and anticipating a summer full of ministry and mission opportunities for all ages.
Remain faithful to Christ. Remain faithful for the right reason – to glorify Christ. Remain joyful!
Grace & Peace,
March 22, 2015
At the beginning of the year my automobile insurance company offered to give me a discount on my premium if I participated in a research project about driving habits. Only because they promised that my rates wouldn’t be affected by participating, I agreed. They sent me this nifty device that I plugged into my car and within a week I could look at my driving habits.
If you knew your driving habits were being monitored for harsh stops and starts, speeding, idling, and the distances of every trip made in your car, would your driving habits improve? I admit it; mine did. What I expected to happen did indeed happen, however. I eventually forgot that the device was attached to my car and quit wondering things like “How harsh, exactly, is a harsh stop or start?” And, “Surely I can’t be blamed for setting the cruise control just one or two miles per hour above the speed limit – nobody can get it exactly on the little line, right?”
Then I became even more relaxed. I quit checking the website for my driving reports and within a month I went from forgetting to check to avoiding it altogether. I didn’t want to know how well I was driving, now that starts and stops and speed, etc. weren’t at the front of my thoughts. I was expecting the worst. Finally today I went to the website and was pleasantly surprised that I’ve received 5 out of 5 stars in almost every category. And no, I’m not going to tell you which category I received 2 out of 5 stars.
Accountability is in the DNA of United Methodism but sometimes we’d prefer not to know just how well – or not so well – we’re doing as faithful, close followers of Jesus Christ. He does set the bar pretty high! But if we don’t consistently and honestly share our discipleship challenges and successes with other trusted Christian friends, we can really miss out on needed growth and joy in the journey.
Those handy little “WWJD” bracelets are great but if we’re only asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” in a particular situation we may not know the right answer and even if we do know what Jesus would do, it doesn’t mean we would! We need the Christian community for many reasons, but to hold one another accountable is one of the top ones.
The Thursday night Bible study, Renegade Gospel, has turned out to be a source of accountability for the class and the leader. We’re asking tough questions, sharing struggles and advice.
Who holds you accountable for your Christian discipleship? If you’ve been to Emmaus, consider joining one of the reunion groups. If you’re in a Sunday school, ask someone to be your accountability partner. If you’re not sure how or where to begin, contact me through the church office. I’d be glad to help you get started.
Grace & Peace,
March 15, 2015
Greetings Friends,True story. In the summer heat of 1947, three young boys were bored.
So they decided to prank some of the folks in their small town just outside
Wichita Falls. They took two burlap bags, filled them with cotton seed and tin
cans and then tied the whole thing up with baling wire so that it looked like a
snake. They figured they would startle a few people and get some laughs but
their project did much more than that.
The boys practiced trailing the “snake” behind them so that their
footprints were destroyed and after they mastered its use they decided it was
time to try out their idea. They placed the snake along the side of a quiet sandy road and waited in the bushes. As luck would have it (for the boys, anyway), a family travelling by became stuck in the sand and upon seeing the snake the mother screamed, the children started crying and everyone pitched in to get the car out of the sand. The family’s report resulted in two Texas Highway patrolmen and a newspaper reporter going to the location in search of this monster snake.
The boys were thrilled and from that point on, news spread. The snake
was sighted in back yards, inside a church, and slithering through fields and
across roads. Some of the sightings were staged by the boys….and others were not. One person reported that the snake was 40 feet in length. A man reported that on a dark night, the snake reared its head as high as the driver’s side window of his truck. Amazingly, the snake was reported seen at the same exact time in two different locations! Fear struck throughout the county and into the next; parents made their children stay inside the house and a reward of $2,000 was offered for the snake’s capture. There were searches for the snake on horseback, in vehicles and even by air. Eventually, suspicion pointed to the boys and the day came when the Sheriff arrived at one of the boys’ homes. No, the boys never were caught but only because one of their older brothers found the snake and burned it.
What a great story, right? You can read more about it at www.thestoryoftexas.com if you want. I heard the story from our district
superintendent, Rev. Sandra Smith. Great big, terrifying, deadly, imaginary snakes are everywhere. They are the harmful misunderstandings and hurtful consequences that result from uninformed and incorrect gossip. They are decisions made (or not made) based on the fear that something might or might not happen. Sometimes a great big, terrifying, deadly snake is really a snake. But sometimes a great big, terrifying, deadly snake is imaginary. Something to think about.
Grace & Peace,
Two significant events in the life of Jesus Christ are remembered and observed during Holy Week. One of those events is the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior and we will observe that sacrifice on Friday, April 3, with a Good Friday service. This will be a powerful service of music, Scripture, prayer, and reflection. It will also include the practice of “Stripping the Church,” during which all sacramental cloths on the Lord’s table, pulpit and lectern, as well as all ornamental or sacramental objects are removed from the Sanctuary. Done in silence, this is a dramatic recognition of the abandonment and rejection of Jesus on the night he went to Gethsemane. You can read the account in the Gospel of John, chapters 18 and 19.
The night before that, however, is a less recognized holy day, Maundy, or Holy Thursday. On Thursday, April 2, we will gather as a community for Maundy Thursday but a very special, very customized service is being planned for our congregation. In chapter 13 of John’s Gospel, we read how Jesus demonstrated how to serve through loving one another. The biblical text tells us that Jesus used water and his own garments to wash the feet of the disciples as a loving act of service toward them. He concludes the act by saying to them, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Our Maundy Thursday Service will be, rather than a foot-washing, a service of Worship, Prayer, Purification and Healing. We will begin our time together in the Sanctuary with music, Scripture and prayer but then we will all move to various areas of our Pacific Avenue location and pray for cleansing and healing for our church. When prayers have been completed we’ll travel together as one people to the Newsom Avenue location of our church and pray for cleansing and healing in every area of that building as well. We’ll come back together as one large group in the Court of Praise to close our time together with Scripture and music. The hope is that we will worship together as one community of faith, believing and trusting that God is drawing us closer to Him while leading us into the preferred future He has prepared for us.
Our participation in Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI) was and is our choice. The “prescriptions” were presented to us as a congregation, we discussed the pro’s and con’s of each one, and in the end voted to accept and begin working on them. The final task in the first prescription is to have a “Service of Prayer and Repentance” led by a someone designated by the annual conference. After much prayer, I told our VCI coach that I feel called by God to lead that service and furthermore, I believe this idea of a service of worship, prayer, purification and healing will be very meaningful for our congregation.
As your pastor, I covet your prayers as the plans for this special service continue to solidify. If the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart and you would like to help me, please contact me.
I continue to be honored to be in ministry with you.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bobbie
March 1st, 2015
Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI) Update
The mission of our church – of all United Methodist churches, in fact – is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As with any mission, it can be advanced in a number of ways, some more effective than others. Unfocused ministry efforts, however, are costly in time, morale and money.
An alternative is to approach ministry in a way that capitalizes on a church’s unique passions, resources and abilities and prioritizes ministry efforts. To take that a step further, the church must then match herself to the ministry needs of her members and the community in which she serves. This is the process of discovering a vision for the church.
The vision answers the question, “How can we be most fruitful in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?” Our answer won’t be the same as any other church! God expects us to be the best First United Methodist Church in Mineola that we can possibly be.
Everyone is invited to participate in the process of discovering our church vision. The first step is to attend a VISIONING WORKSHOP led by our congregational coach, Steve Stutz, on Saturday, April 11 from 9:00 a.m. – Noon. It’s important that there be a good representation from all of the various groups in our congregation including men’s and women’s groups, Sunday school classes, and Bible studies. There should be representation of all ages and stations of life as well.
Date: Saturday, April 11th
Time: 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Location: Ministry Center’s Court of Praise
*All are invited *Snacks will be served
*Child care is available upon request
February 22, 2015
People occasionally ask me how I choose what I’m going to preach about and how do I know which scripture passage to use. Fortunately I can answer, “I don’t have to choose either.” Let me explain. Planning and leading worship are two of the most important responsibilities I have. They are also two of the most enjoyable and rewarding responsibilities I have. I was taught and I believe that the sermon itself is not the central or climax of worship. Instead I believe that the sermon is one component of an entire worship experience for God’s people.
So, as we move through the liturgical seasons of the church (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost/Kingdomtide), I follow the Revised Common Lectionary. The RCL is a calendar and table of suggested scripture readings for a three-year cycle. The readings for each Sunday and holy day – typically one each from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels – are meant for the weekly service of worship on the Lord’s Day. It provides a systematic approach to the use of Scripture in worship. The RCL is not uniquely United Methodist; it’s used by many denominations. Its use is voluntary and I like it because I’m never tempted to use only those scriptural passages that I like, am comfortable with, or fit my personal take on things.
Once I’ve read and prayed over the lectionary readings for a particular Sunday or holy day, I select one of them as the focal point of the sermon. I typically spend 6-8 hours in sermon preparation including prayer, study, review of a wide range of biblical commentaries, and consideration of the season and state of the church. I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide my thoughts, writing, and delivery of the sermon. My goal is to follow the Spirit and not my own agenda.
With the help of the worship committee, the worship services are designed to create an atmosphere for worship where the hearts of the people connect with the heart of God. The calls to worship, prayers, music, children’s sermon, and sermon are all integrated by that chosen lectionary selection from the Bible.
Worship is the work of the people. If you want to connect at a deeper level with God, here are some suggestions: 1) Be prayed up before you come to worship, 2) Resist the temptation to “check out” of worship, and 3) Decide ahead of time that God has something special just for you every time you open your heart for worship.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bobbie
February 15, 2015
I invite you to observe a holy season of Lent. Our United Methodist Book of Worship describes it like this: “Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penitence by all Christians.
From Holy Thursday through sunset Easter Day are the climax of Lent (and of the whole Christian year) and a bridge into the Easter Season. These days proclaim the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. During these days, the community journeys with Jesus from the upper room, to the cross, to the tomb, and to the garden.”
During the season of Lent, Christians are invited to observe this forty-day season as a serious time of spiritual preparation by practicing a spiritual discipline. I invite you, then, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. Keep in mind that all of these practices are more than just “giving up” something that doesn’t really matter to us anyway. The practice of these particular spiritual disciplines are about reminding us of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each one of us on the cross. Do more than read about it in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; really meditate on the account of the crucifixion. Do more than pray a laundry list of things for God to do; spend time in quiet, listening to God. Fast from one meal each day and donate that meal time for volunteer service or the money you might have spent on food to buy food to donate to the hungry.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and we’ll observe Ash Wednesday by worshiping together at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary on N. Pacific.
Grace & Peace,
February 8, 2015
The mission of the church is to reach out to those within the community, receive them as they are, relate them to God, nurture and equip them, and send them back into the community in order to make the community a more loving and just place in which to live. With that in mind, the United Methodist Men’s Foundation established an Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting Ministries. The purpose of this office is to promote the use of programs across the Church and to help local congregations understand how they might use civic youth-serving agencies as an outreach ministry within their community.
The Church has chosen to use five youth agency programs, one of which is the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts were chosen as one of the five agencies because of their Christian teachings, long-standing connection with local congregations and their recognition of the God and Country program. For many years United Methodist congregations have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Scouts and FUMC Mineola is one of those congregations.
Chartered by Congress in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) emphasizes strong personal values, character, self-worth and usefulness, caring relationships, a desire to learn and productive and creative use of time.
We’re honored to be associated with the Scouts, especially Pack 385, chartered by our church.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bobbie
February 1, 2015
I love Jonah the Reluctant Prophet because his crazy, bold (if not rebellious) actions make me laugh at myself. One of my gifts, not so spiritual gifts, is having a strong will. I’m writing this article while on break at the Texas Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry where many of us, clergy and laity, have gathered to interview persons who have heard a call to ministry. All of that is to say that hearing so many rich stories of God’s grace brightly at work in the lives of the candidates makes me remember my own call to ministry.
My own call to ministry is riddled with strong-willed stubbornness and that’s no big surprise to most. If it’s any consolation I’m far less so as I continue to mature in life and in call. Jonah the Reluctant Prophet and I are soulmates that way. I’ve learned that my passion for those who are marginalized doesn’t have to be expressed with aggression or accusation. It is easy to take that road, believe me, but over the years I learned that my method wasn’t effective but, ironically, I managed to alienate and marginalize those I believed needed to be chastised.
I don’t like the ending of the Book of Jonah because I don’t know what happened to my soulmate, Jonah. Did he stay on the edge of the city Nineveh and sulk, staining his heart with judgment toward the Ninevites or was God able to soften his heart toward the city? Did he consider that God was going to extend grace so strongly that the “outsiders” (people who don’t know the heart of God) would inevitably become “insiders” (knowing the heart of God)? Or did he re-engage with the citizens, introducing and teaching them about the heart of God?
The Book of Jonah is an amazing story about the depth and breadth of God’s unbounded grace toward all people. As I’ve been reminded in a myriad of ways today in the midst of ordination interviews, every person is precious, honored and loved. The Reluctant Prophet had a narrow view of God’s grace as I believe all of us have owned at one point or another in our lives. My hope for myself is to practice erring on the side of love. When I finally arrive in my eternal home, I hope the mistakes I’ve made will be chalked up to having too big a heart.
Thank you, Church, for being a beautiful representation of Christ for me and for our whole community.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bobbie
January 25, 2015
It's mid-January and already signs of new life are evident. I've already had more than a couple of conversations about the best mixes of soil for vegetable gardens in Mineola and evidently the time has arrived to plant onions, lettuce, broccoli, spinach... Did I mention it's only mid-January? Ecclesiastes says that there's time for everything and mid-January is the time to prepare the soil and plant the right produce in order to have a fruitful garden.
In a sense, the same is true in the life of the church. There are seasons in which dormancy offers opportunities for rest and reflection. And there are seasons of preparation, for planting and for harvest. The seasons of the church, however, are not quite as structure as the seasons of nature.
So here's a prayer request for intercession for our congregation, a multi-faceted prayer request if you'll indulge me please. Not everyone in our church family is in the same season which causes me to ask that you pray for each other as we move into the future that God has ordained for us. Pray that as some of us feel the need to move on and forge ahead we don't leave church family members behind; those who aren't ready to embrace a future for whatever reason. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating staying put or ignoring the needs we have for change. I simply ask that we all be sensitive to one another.
Another facet of this prayer request is for courage. Pray that God provide - wherever it happens to be needed to whoever needs it - courage to forgive, confess, participate in holy conversations. Some may need courage to stay the course or follow God in a new direction.
Finally, pray for unity of spirit among us. The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that we are stronger together than we are divided. Let's pray that all of us learn to better appreciate diversity as a gift than a challenge because it's essential to the body of Christ.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." II Corinthians 13:11
Grace and Peace, Pastor Bobbie
December 2014 Pastor’s Corner
We are blessed to have volunteer musicians who spend hours in rehearsal and are present faithfully every Sunday morning to create an atmosphere of worship where all our hearts connect with the heart of God through the Holy Spirit. Please take a moment to than them in person or by sending a card!
We are additionally blessed to have a dedicated church staff who, without exception, perform their duties with grace, humility and excellence. Be sure to thank them in person or send a card. If you would like to thank our volunteer musicians and our church staff in a tangible way, please write a check to the church for any amount you choose and write “Christmas Blessings” on the memo line. Thank you!
And, by the way, here’s the Top Ten List of Things Every Pastor Wants to Hear for Christmas:
10. Pastor, I have a large sum of money I’d like to donate to the church to spend on a ministry that will put people in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And yes, this donation is beyond my tithe.
9. Pastor, the church leadership voted and they want you t have ore time for prayer, pastoral care, teaching, and sermon preparation so we want you to come to meetings only if we can’t handle it ourselves. And we think we can handle all of them ourselves.
8. Pastor I want to be in Bible Study/Sunday School (circle one or both). Could you recommend one?
7. Pastor, would you help me figure out how to get more involved in ministry?
6. Pastor, I think God is calling me to full-time ministry. Could we meet?
5. Pastor, would you pray with me?
4. Pastor, I’d like to get a little more leadership training. Do you have any suggestions?
3. Pastor, even when we disagree I want you to know that I love you.
2. Pastor, I know you’re not perfect and nobody expects you to be.
1. Pastor, I pray for you and your family every day.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bobbie November 2014 Pastor's Corner
I've been told there are 40-something shopping days left until Christmas. Not this year. I'm not going to succumb to the commercialization of God's gift to the world, Jesus Christ. Last weekend I heard myself ask the question in the midst of a sermon, "How many times have we complained that the world never changes when we, ourselves, are unwilling to to change?" (As a side note I have to say, it's very unsettling to be preaching a concept when suddenly the words make a direct hit on one's heart!) I've spent some time in prayer the past few days because I wasn't sure what it was about me that God wanted to change and the answer that keeps surfacing is to celebrate a holy Advent that ushers in a glorious Christmas celebration of Jesus' birth.
It's interesting to me that as soon as I decided to exchange the commercialized holiday season for a more spiritually satisfying one, I began to look forward to the approaching weeks. If you'd like to join me in this journey to Christmas, please come along! There are three things I think that we could do as a church family that will benefit us greatly. First, join me in an Advent of prayer. Let's set aside 15 minutes of each day to pray for anyone in need. If you are willing to contribute in some way to creating an Advent devotion guide, please let me know. Second, join me in an Advent of fasting, not from food but not from harmful thoughts, words, and communication. Let's refrain for the 25 days of Advent from speaking, texting, e-mailing or otherwise communicating negativity. Read Colossians 3:8-15 for further clarification. Third, let's get ready for the coming of Baby Jesus! All the churches in the Northwest District are collecting items for a baby shower throughout the Advent season. Include baby items on your Christmas list: diapers, powder, rattles, blankets...you get the idea. We'll collect the items and give them to babies who need them.
As always, I'm honored to be in ministry beside you, I'm proud to be part of this family of faith and I love you!
I’m writing this article on Wednesday, October 1, the first day of confirmation classes for our youth. One of our youth directors, Johnny Callison, will be teaching the classes with me, which combine opportunities for learning about the Christian faith and what it means to be a member of The Unitied Methodist Church. Two things come to mind when we start talking about confirmation. First, what is it? Second, why bother with it?
In an age where product loyalty is declining, so is loyalty to denominations. People choose a church based on size, what the church can offer them (not necessarily in the area of spiritual formation), and proximity to their home. Why bother with confirmation? Because there is a beauty and uniqueness to the UMC that is often overlooked and under-appreciated even by its members. We believe in a balance between personal salvation and service to the world. We believe that God’s grace works throughout our lives to perfect us in love. In other words, by God’s grace we grow in the likeness of Christ. That grace casts out all fear and so our assurance of salvation is lived out as an expression of love toward God and neighbor rather than a fear of eternal damnation. We bother with confirmation because we want individuals to understand what it means to be uniquely United Methodist. After prayerful contemplation, study and guidance, confirmation students are given the opportunity to join the church by promising to uphold it by their prayers (for and with the church), presence (actually showing up...not just worship), gifts (financial support), and service (to the church and the world.)
So here’s my question to you, church: How faithfully are you fulfilling your membership vows? Perhaps it’s time to brush up on – or learn for the first time – what it means to be a full member of The United Methodist Church.