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Pastor's Corner

Sept 17, 2017
Dear Church Family,
Thank You! What a Week!
 His Kids began with 59 children and an army of GREAT volunteers.
 The Youth were given almost $3000 to make Flood Buckets. So far their total is approximately 80 completed and more are on the way. They’ve worked long and hard to help families devastated by Hurricanes.
 The Bible Study on Esther, led by Beth Moore, began on Thursday with over a dozen enrolled.
 The United Methodist Women donated $500 to Flood Buckets and $500 to the United Methodist Committee On Relief. The United Methodist Men also did exactly the same thing. The UMCOR funds will help in America and the Caribbean islands. The Mineola Flood Buckets will stay in America.
 Several from our Church went on a mission trip to Orange with Christian Carpenters for Christ. They received 10 Flood Buckets through the Youth Group and some reserve funds from the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund.
 Residents of Mineola Senior Housing enjoyed a great Barbeque though our Seniors Ministry.
 Chair Yoga Classes got off to a great start.
 The Youth began planning a short Mission/Learning/Work trip to Sager Brown, the Methodist Emergency Supply Warehouse in Baldwin, Louisiana.
 Strides forward were made in Evangelism and Missions.
Those are just some of the things our church was doing this week. One of my favorite ways to evaluate a church is to ask a simple question: What would the community be like if it didn’t exist? I’ll answer that in detail in a later message, but this week has been a GREAT affirmation that we are here to save souls, nourish souls, and serve God by serving mankind. I can’t help but be proud, maybe too proud, but a LOT of good things are happening.
As we go through another wonderful week here, let’s not forget that our country has been devastated by two powerful hurricanes. Our Neighbors and Families are hurting! I still feel EVERYBODY should be doing SOMETHING.
Please keep these life-changing ministries in your prayers, and especially keep praying for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Love,
Paul

Sept 10, 2017
Dear Friends,
YIKES!
And THANK YOU for ALL that is being done. Again, THANK YOU! Young, old, and everyone in between who are already beginning to respond to this epic crisis.
However, as I write this early on Thursday, I can’t help but wonder what will have happened by Sunday morning. As I write this, there are no less than 3 Hurricanes posing threats to millions of people. Hurricanes Katia, Irma, and Jose all are strong, dangerous predators. Hurricane Harvey has already devastated Texas and cost our state dearly in terms of lives lost and property destroyed. More tragedy and pain seems inevitable.
We will pray for everyone involved. We will pray for their safety and we will pray for their sanity. And, of course, we’ll pray for the Lord to lead us into doing what He would have us do in this crisis. It appears that our response will take three main paths, though there may still be other major roads ahead. At one point I thought our church would be an emergency shelter, but there were precious few evacuees from Hurricane Harvey.
The three things I know for sure we ought to be doing are: (1) Collecting money to aid victims. In this we have so far collected $2914 for direct aid and an additional $715 for Flood Buckets. I predict we’ll do even more.
(2) Making as many Flood Buckets (and Hygiene Kits) as possible. In this, led by our Wonderful Youth Group, we have assembled 21 Flood Buckets…so far. I predict a LOT more will follow. Thorough instructions for Flood Buckets are available at the church (just ask Moe or the Youth!) or by going to: http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning
Finally (3) We should train and prepare a response team. We have some early responders already trained and more are volunteering.
I feel like EVERYBODY should do SOMETHING for the millions of victims. What are YOU doing?
Yours in Christ,
Paul

Sept 2, 2017
Dear Friends,
Below is a message to everyone in the Northwest District from Marlin Fenn, our District Superintendent. We will serve God to the best of our abilities in this unprecedented crisis. Please keep it in your prayers!
Love,
Paul
Friends in the Northwest District,
I just finished a cabinet conference call to update Hurricane Relief info. Here is the latest.
The damage from Hurricane Harvey is tremendous. It will take three to five years to recover from the damage. The National Weather Service predicts that the storm will pass through East Texas midweek. We will see what effects it brings here.
At this point we know of well over a dozen pastors and churches in our conference with significant damage from rising water.
Our district office will keep a list of churches that can open as emergency shelters if needed. The Conference website has some information for churches wanting to open as shelters. Please consider the impact and commitment you are undertaking.
http://www.txcumc.org/newsdetail/churches-wanting-to-assist-as-shelters-9142727
Flood buckets will be a long term need. We will need as many as can be made, and will also need locations to collect the buckets so they can be transported to the Mission Depot or to places of need. http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning
Please do not collect clothing, water, and other supplies at this time. The best gift is money, which can be used to buy what is most needed. Monetary gifts can be sent to the Conference Treasurer marked “Hurricane Harvey” or can be sent to UMCOR fund Domestic Disaster Response Advance #901670.**
Teams of relief workers will be needed soon. Those that are trained Early Response Teams (ERT) will be of great value. Other volunteers will be paired with ERT’s.
We have received calls from a number of other conferences offering support. Some are planning to send teams. That’s part of the strength of our connection. They will be coordinated through our Missional Excellence office.
Stories will be posted on a special edition of the Cross Connection this week and on United Methodist News Service.
It is in times of need that we pull together the strongest. May God guide us in the work ahead.
Grateful to be in this together with you,
Marlin
**Monetary donation check should be made to FUMC, marked Hurricane Harvey, and we will send one check from our church to the Conference.
 
August 27, 2017
Dear Friends,
Sometimes part of being a Methodist is to take a stand on social issues. Each one of us is called to take part in our democracy by voting, making our personal decisions on various social issues, and being true to our interpretation of the Gospel in our political actions and decisions. In practice that means we have a personal obligation to decide for ourselves on various social issues and to vote our conscience.
However, some social evils need to be called out to be properly fought against. In the future, I will discuss the shameful way that some demonize and humiliate people who are struggling with mental illness. Today I will preach about human trafficking. Human trafficking is an abominable evil that calls for Christian denunciation. It is synonymous with violence and oppression. Moreover, it is something that is often invisible. Throughout history it has destroyed lives, especially the lives of vulnerable women. Last of all, human trafficking is something that can happen right here in Mineola, though we often fail to recognize it when we see it.
I like to think it is less prevalent than it used to be, but I know from experience in Houston that it survives, and maybe even thrives, this very day. Human trafficking and many other social evils have lessened over the years. The reason for that improvement is because they have been denounced in pulpits, in statehouses and in Our Houses across America. They must be denounced. Simply wringing our hands and not taking a stand is insufficient.
I urge us to pray for America. Human trafficking exists in more places and ways than we realize. It is horrible for America and destructive of sacred Christian values. It is truly an abomination.
Respectfully,
Paul
 
August 20, 2017
Dear Friends,
Martin Luther once said, “He who sings prays twice.” I wonder if we really fully comprehend the power of music? When I preach, when Billy Graham preaches, when anyone on earth preaches, we only remember so much of the message. But when we sing a hymn, listen to an anthem, or some other way hear a musical, Gospel message, we often remember it for a lifetime. For example, what sermons do you remember from your childhood and youth? On the other hand, what songs and hymns do you remember from your childhood and youth? It is SO true: Harmony is an aid to memory.
When you sing a Gospel Song, whether its old-time Southern Gospel or modern Contemporary Gospel, you commit its words and message to your memory. Moreover, you commit its Gospel Message to your Heart! You sing it in church; it stays with you during the week. Somehow it mystically stays with you for a lifetime.
We owe an incalculable debt to choir members, praise bands and many others who have delivered numerous Gospel messages each week during worship. Their Salvation Message lives eternally within us, shaping our Faith, shaping our intellects, and wondrously blessing our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. To ALL who lead us in worship through music, Thank You! You have Eternally blessed our lives in ways that words just can’t adequately express.
Today we will sing more than usual in worship. My sermon will be a “Song Sermon” (a form of sermon I will only rarely deliver). I suspect you will remember its message more easily than most other sermons. I hope you enjoy it!
Love,
Paul

 
August 13, 2017
Dear Friends,
Circumstances change, but currently in America one of the fastest-growing religious groups in America are those who have NO religious affiliation. They grow at 1% each year.
This won’t end well. It won’t end well for our country, it won’t end well for our planet, it won’t end well for those who reject Christ, and it won’t end well for families or friends.
We have an obligation to reach out and support religious education. Throughout America, I believe children must be taught the Bible far more successfully than is currently being done. Our country is increasingly Biblically illiterate. If we don’t know what the Word of God says, how can we possibly apply it to our lives?
This is especially true for young people. Of all who make a decision for Jesus Christ…
43% Do So Before Age 13
64% Do So Before Age 18
77% Do So Before Age 21
Conversely, of those who do NOT accept Christ by age 21, only 23% Ever Will.
The Church needs to recognize that it needs to be in Crisis Mode. Across America we must turn the tide on this critical Spiritual issue!
Respectfully,
Paul
 
July 19, 2017
Dear Friends:
I have been asked by the Finance and Endowment task forces to say a few words about finances. The great news is that our Endowments, and we have four of them, are all doing reasonably well; they are all now in the black.
One is dedicated to music. It is the Glenn English Endowment Fund. It is currently worth $426,734 and assists substantially in paying the salary for our Choir Director, Organist, Pianist, and sometimes other music-related needs. Obviously this Endowment blesses many of us (and others) each week here in Mineola.
A second Endowment, the Bill and Yvonne Leediker Endowment, is used to assist those who attend college. It is currently worth $33,781. I am happy to report that it, too, is being used as intended.
A third Endowment, the Judge Endowment, is used for Education. It assists in paying the salary for our Youth and Children’s Ministry Directors. So, it also is doing wonderful things each and every day.
The last one, the Family Maintenance Endowment, is currently worth $85,142. It is used to help pay building maintenance issues when necessary.
The basic corpus of each Endowment is in place and all four are ahead by varying degrees. That is all Very Good News!
The bad news is that our church is currently running slightly in the red, mostly because of broken air conditioners. If possible, we request each member to prayerfully consider doing what he or she can to assist their church during this “Summer Slump.”
One final thought is this: Endowments are great! About 4% per year of an endowment can usually be used in perpetuity to help finance outstanding ministries. However, paying for great things is irrelevant if the lights can’t be paid for. If you can add to an Endowment or create a new one, God Bless You! Let’s talk. However, please don’t do so if it will be given at the cost of not donating your usual tithe or offering. Our church needs both General Budget income and Endowment income. Please be prayerfully judicious in which you give to.
Yours in Christ,
Paul
 
Tuesday, July 12, 2017
Dear Friends,
I certainly enjoyed this morning! Leon Willingham picked me up at 6:15 a.m. and we traveled to Quitman for a men’s breakfast fellowship. Today’s study leader was Eldridge Goins and we generally discussed Luke 23 and Jesus’ words to a dying criminal “today you will be with me in paradise.”
I say “generally” because the kind, loving discussion covered a great many topics. The men were speaking their minds on deep spiritual belief.
Breakfast was excellent and some anonymous source paid everyone’s costs. Thank you, whoever you are!
Good Food, Good Friends, Good Book,
Good Food, Good Price, Good Friends, and The Good Book,
are a GREAT way to begin every day!
In the coming days, I will say more about Adult Bible Studies.
Love,
Paul
 
July 9, 2017
 
Independence Day - July 4th has come and gone. Many flags were flown within our town, people enjoyed cookouts and fireworks. Below are excerpts from an article written by Dr. Dillon Burroughs which offers at least four clear reasons to celebrate. 1. Gratitude for Religious Freedom
First, America offers significant religious freedom for Christians (and others) to freely worship. The United States continues to operate as one of the nations offering the most religious freedom worldwide. Did you know that more than one-fourth of the nations in the world (53) include some form of legal restrictions or prohibition toward Christian activities? Yet in our nation, we can attend the church of our choice, openly read the Bible on our own or with others, and openly pray to God. Despite ongoing legal challenges to certain Christian activities in America, the nation still enjoys great religious freedom. This is certainly something to celebrate.
2. Appreciation for Those Who Defend Our Freedom
Second, Christians can thank God for those who serve and have given their lives to defend our freedom. This includes past military veterans, current military personnel, as well as honoring their family members. We often forget our freedom of religion and other freedoms can only continue if our armed forces protect our nation and national interests. While this does not mean we have to agree with every military decision or conflict, we can be thankful for all those who serve and their families.
3. Thanksgiving for the Opportunity to Participate in Government
Third, we can thank God for the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of our nation. Our nation offers the ability to participate through voting and even options to run for political office. Contrast this situation with the tyrannical Emperor Nero who led the Roman Empire during the New Testament period and you’ll quickly appreciate the opportunity to have a voice within the political process.
4. Thankfulness for Peace with Family, Neighbors, and Friends
Fourth, we can express appreciation for a nation at peace. If you lived in Syria today, your home and community would live under the threat of civil war. In many parts of Sudan, you would live in fear of your town being attack by rebels. If you were a Christian living in Iraq, you may be forced to flee for your safety.
Despite significant violence within the United States, the nation remains free of war within its own borders. Most of us take this peace for granted, yet millions worldwide long for a single night of rest without fear of attack in their communities. We can at least take a moment to thank God for the peace He has provided for our family, our community, and nation. As Jeremiah 29:7 teaches, we can seek the good of the city where we live and work to impact those around us with the love of Christ.
Yours in Christ,
Paul
 
July 2, 2017
Dear Friends,
Thank you for such a Wonderful Welcome! Dyane and I have been so lovingly treated by our new Church and all of Mineola. I especially wish to thank Lay Leader John Fuller and his kind wife Gayle for letting Dyane and me stay in their Spiritual Retreat at their home.
This week is Vacation Bible School, and what a Great Week it’s been! So many children...so many adult volunteers...so many precious memories and life-long songs to remember. A special thanks goes to all those who have made this beautiful week a reality.
For the Thomassons, this is “moving week.” We’re here but our furniture and more arrives on Wednesday morning, June 28. I am in the office now and looking forward to meeting each and every member of our church and community.
One last thing I’d like to say is this: Initially I plan to love, listen and learn. I hope to visit with every single member and family in their home during my first year here. I’d like to sit down, share a cup of coffee, and learn more about each other and our church.
I look forward to our future together!
Yours in Christ,
Paul









First United Methodist Church, Mineola Texas