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Pastor's Corner

July 2014 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings Friends!

            I continue to give thanks to God for the privilege of serving beside you in ministry and the warm hospitality you have extended to my family and me.  As I write this, I’ve not yet moved into the office or parsonage, nor have I officially started my appointment as your pastor but I already feel at home.

            I’m very much looking forward to the listening gatherings which are set to begin in July.  So far, nine individuals or couples have offered to open their homes to church members so that I have an opportunity to get to know as many of you as possible in a more intimate setting.  Another aim of the gatherings is to create an opportunity for us to listen to one another.  My hope is that the gatherings are diverse in age, perspective, personality, and dreams for our church.

            These are the questions posed as discussion starters at each gathering:

Who are we (as a church) when we are at our best?
What is possible for us?
What do you love about our church?

            Now is the time to sign up for your first and second choice of dates for the gatherings.  You’ll be notified about which date you requested but please be aware that the number of attendees will be limited so please sign up early and be flexible.

            I’ve set aside multiple dates throughout July and August in order to accommodate additional daytime or evening gatherings.  So if you want to host one but haven’t gotten around to it, please contact the church office at 903.569.5426 or mineolafumc@suddenlinkmail.com.

            Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions.  My email address is rmaltas@sbcglobal.net.  I don’t have consistent cell phone coverage but you can certainly leave a message or text me at 281.793.7558.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Bobbie

 

June 2014 Pastor's Corner
Goodbye!

Someone has pointed out that "Goodbye" is a shortened version of "God be with you."  I want to thank you for the privilege of serving as interim pastor here at First United Methodist Church and for the opportunity of living in this wonderful Mineola community.  As Cathy and I have mentioned frequently, Mineola has been our favorite place of all the churches I have served!  What a wonderful town and what a great church to serve!  I envy pastor Bobbie.  It's hard to believe the time has passed so quickly!

What a privilege it has been for me to serve this amazing congregation!  I have never served a church that has been so actively involved in so many different ministries that are making a difference in people's lives in so many ways.  Dietrich Bonheoffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1945, had a clear vision of what the church was called to be.  He received this vision by viewing the church through the lens of Jesus Christ.  Bonhoeffer described Jesus as a "man for others," that is, a man who selflessly lived and died for the benefit of others.  Bonhoeffer argues that just as Jesus was the man for others in his earthly life so the church is called to be a "church for others," whose focus is outside of itself and which identifies itself not with the rich and powerful, but the poor and powerless.  Bonhoeffer summed up in his "Letters and Papers from Prison," how such a church would look: "The church is the church only when it exists for others...The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving.  It must tell men [and women] of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others... It must not under-estimate the importance of human example (which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus and is so important in Paul's teachings); it is not abstract argument, but example, that gives its word emphasis and power."  First United Methodist Church certainly fits this definition.  You demonstrate your love for others by example and not just word.  I have seen this in so many ways in just the short time I've been here.

Finally, thanks again for your love, support and patience with me for my mistakes.  I will keep both you and pastor Bobbie in my constant prayers.  My prayer is that God will equip pastor Bobbie for the challenges ahead and that you might share together a productive and fruitful ministry as FUMC endeavors to be "the church for others."  I know God has great things planned for First United Methodist Church and for the town of Mineola.  May God equip you with every spiritual gift and blessing for the ministry God has prepared for you.  Tony Bennett once sang, "I left my heart in San Francisco," but Cathy and I have truly left our hearts here in Mineola.  May God richly bless you with every spiritual blessing available in Christ!

In Joyful Service,
Darrell

May 2014 Pastor’s Corner

Christianity and Civility

“Precisely because rudeness is quite common, it is not a trivial issue.  Indeed, in our day to day lives it is possibly responsible for more pain than any other mortal failing.” – Emrys Westacott

Webster’s dictionary defines “civility” as “civilized conduct, especially: courtesy, politeness; a polite act or expression.”  Increasingly, we are living in a less and less civil world.  It seems like everywhere we turn, we witness acts of incivility and rude behavior: at the grocery store, the bank, the airport, even driving on the road.  We find rude behavior from the intrusive cell-phone user who holds loud conversations in public to the hostile highway driver who cuts us off with a quick swerve of his car.  Politeness seems to be on a downward spiral.  The truth is that rude behavior is becoming more and more prevalent.  This doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

Dr. P.M. Forni is an award-winning professor of Italian Literature at Johns Hopkins University, who recently wrote a book entitled, “The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude.”  Forni has some interesting observations about why we are rude, particularly in our cars.  He notes that two distinct forces coalesce in the experience of driving that tends to influence drivers to become rude.  One force is anonymity and the other is stress.  The experience of driving tends to be an anonymous one since we are so isolated in our cars from other drivers that there is very little interpersonal contact.  This tends to make the experience of driving an impersonal one.

The second force that combines with this is stress and which of us does not live under stress?  When we’re under stress and driving, we tend to lash out at what we perceive as something that is impersonal.  What we tend to forget is that the car that just cut us off is being driven by a human being with feelings, emotions and rights just like ourselves.  When these two forces combine (stress & anonymity), people tend to respond to others in rude ways, yelling at the other driver, honking the horn, chasing them, cutting them off in return or making an obscene gesture.  Remove one of these factors and the whole situation changes.  For example, suppose you are in a contest with a rude driver who has given you an obscene gesture and you retaliate with another obscene gesture and suddenly you realize the person in the other car is your next door neighbor, or perhaps your child’s school teacher or principal.  Remove the anonymity factor and the whole situation changes.

Forni also makes a distinction in his book between what he calls focused and unfocused rudeness.  Focused rudeness exists when the rude behavior is focused on a particular individual or group.  For example, if you’re a supervisor at work and you tend to be rude toward one particular worker because he or she irritates you or there’s just something about him or her you don’t like.  Most rude behavior though is unfocused and almost unconscious such as the person who will take a cell phone call in the restaurant or theater and carry on the conversation in a loud voice and not even think about whether this may be disturbing others.  The thought that this behavior might be rude never even crosses their mind.  They don’t intentionally set out to be rude, but for all their good intentions they are.  Most rude behavior is unfocused.

The apostle Paul had something to say about Christians and civility.  In Ephesians 4:32, Paul exhorts the Ephesian Christians, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Christians are to live differently in the world with our model of behavior being Jesus Christ.  Instead of retaliating against rude behavior wit rudeness, we are to respond with kindness and civility.  As Paul once told the Christians in Rome, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).  It may no necessarily make you feel better but it will provide a standard and example for the other person to follow who is engaging in the incivility.  The next time someone salutes you with the one-finger salute, try smiling at him or her and saying, “God bless you!”  If nothing else, this will probably confuse and bewilder the person exhibiting the rude behavior.  Be kind to one another.
Grace & Peace,
Darrell
April 2014 Pastor's Corner

The Easter Message

I don’t know about you, but I suspect that, like me, you probably don’t much like change.  Every time my wife rearranges our furniture in the living room (and she seems to do this several times a year), it drives me crazy.  I ask her, “Honey, why do we have to move the furniture around so much?  Can’t we keep it in one place?”  Most of us don’t like change.  You might recall that a popular 2008 campaign slogan for the Obama campaign was “Change You Can Believe In.”  Not long after that I was driving in the Houston area when I spotted a bumper sticker, which read, “I’ll keep my money, you keep the change.”  Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, that bumper sticker pretty well sums up our feelings about change.  We don’t like it.  But change is a fact of life.  And the Easter message is that on the first Easter Sunday morning the most radical change in history took place: the resurrection!  Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God!

As we all know, our church is in a time of transition.  Transition is that process of moving from something old into something new; it’s about change.  I believe that God is slowly transforming our church.  We have new people joining and our church itself is changing.  We have a new pastor arriving in July.  We are working together on the Vibrant Church Initiative to catch the mission vision and goals that God has for our church.  This means a new mission vision and a new mission statement.  God is working many changes in our church and in our lives personally, shaping us to become God’s servant community fashioned in the image of His son Jesus.

Yet often, we prefer to stick with what’s familiar and comfortable to us.  One of the consistent teachings of Scripture is that God calls us out of our comfort zones to journey with Christ down new roads to new places of service.  God called Abraham to leave his family to journey to a new land he had never seen.  God called Moses to leave the wilderness and journey to Egypt to conform Pharaoh and lead the people to the Promised Land.  God called Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River to take the land God had promised to their ancestors.  God called Jeremiah to leave the safety of his family and preach to the Israelites to turn away from their idols and return to God.  Jesus called his disciples to leave their fishing nets and follow him and become fishers of men.  Jesus called Paul to leave his Pharisaical trappings and become his missionary to the Gentiles.  God has worked this way throughout history calling people to leave their places of comfort and journey with God to unknown places of service, people like Augustine, St. Francis, St. Claire, the Wesley Brothers, Dwight L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Evangeline Booth, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Corrie ten Boom, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa of Calcutta and a whole host of other women and men throughout history.

Can you imagine where we would be today if Christ had not left the tomb?  We, too, are called to leave the comfortable tombs that we have inhabited for too long.

Several years ago, Reuters news organization reported that in Milan, Italy, a homeless man was hospitalized when he was found wandering around the city.  The hospital staff was absolutely amazed when they found that his clothes were stuffed with money.

Although he had been living in shelters and on the streets for more than ten years, he had the equivalent of $30,000 in his possession.  It was his life savings, but he couldn’t face spending any of it.  The man’s identification papers had expired 13 years earlier.  And without proper ID and a current address, the Bank of Italy had refused to exchange his defunct lira for the new euro currency.

How many people’s lives are just like that?  They’re hanging on to all the old stuff of their lives.  Old habits, old hurts, old wounds, old grudges.  And as a result, they’ve locked themselves up in a tomb from which they can’t escape.  They’re holding on to what they think is their only fortune.

When in truth, there’s a treasure more valuable than anything we can think of or imagine.  A treasure that’s offered without any strings attached.  All it really takes is a new identity and a little faith.

The identity comes from Christ Jesus.  He has already claimed us, now all we have to do is claim Him.  And then that faith in Christ empowers us to leave our tombs behind and follow Him into the future unafraid!  That’s the message of the Good News.  That’s the message of Christ to us.  And that’s the message of Easter!  See you in church.

                                          In Joyful Service

                                          Darrell

March 2014 Pastor's Corner

What Am I Taking on for Lent?

We’ve come to that 40-day season of the year that we call “Lent.”  The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.  The color purple, which represents it, is a color of penitence and repentance.  We begin the season of Lent Wednesday, March 5, with an Ash Wednesday service at 7:00 PM.

Traditionally, Roman Catholics have recognized Lent while we Protestants, unable to know what to do with it, simply ignored Lent.  As most of us know, Lent traditionally is a time of sacrifice, a time when you are asked to give up something.  Now this can be anything as mundane as not eating ice cream to abstaining from certain activities or social events.

In a contradictory world of scarcity for many and excess for the few, giving up something by the few who enjoy such an abundance of excess really doesn’t have much impact.  What is the benefit for either myself or the world if I give up eating chocolate bars for Lent?  Other than perhaps creating a craving for chocolate, I can see few benefits from this practice.  But a more important question is what benefit will others derive from my act of self-sacrifice?  Hungry people will certainly derive no benefit from my abstention from chocolate.  The homeless will not be housed any better, nor kept any warmer.

A better question for us to ask ourselves is not “What am I giving up for Lent” but rather “What am I taking on for Lent?”  What project or activity can I engage in that will make a real difference in people’s lives.  What can I do during Lent that will brighten the life of someone?  I can’t help but believe that it makes far more difference to God what we are doing to help others than what we are giving up to spiritually help ourselves.  And as so many have delightfully discovered, when we help others we ourselves are the real beneficiaries.

When we consider that Christ identified himself with the poor and helpless (“Insofar as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”) we are really serving Jesus when we serve people who need help.  And we ourselves receive a blessing.  Any of you who have ever served in Caring and Sharing or volunteered for the Kindness Kottage know what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  I would like to start a tradition here at First UMC to take on something rather than give up things for Lent.  Recent bulletins have had a Lent Commitment card (and cards will be available at the Lenten service) that have a list of service opportunities which you may volunteer for during the season of Lent.  I ask you to consider taking on one of these opportunities and experience the blessedness of which Jesus was speaking.  May this Lent truly become for you a spiritual growing experience in which you grow not by giving up a self-centered activity but by taking on a self-giving activity that will benefit both yourself and others.

See you in Church,
Darrell

 
February 2014 Pastor Corner
As you know, I’m preaching a sermon series entitled, “The ABC’s of Spiritual Vitality.”  We’re going to be looking at some basic elements that help nurture our spiritual lives.  Jesus sain in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”  I would like us to look at the basics that will help make us more open to receive the abundant spiritual life Christ offers us.

Speaking of spiritual life, several years ago, I engaged in a private three day retreat at the Jesuit Montserrat Retreat Center, at Lake Lewisville in Dallas.  While it would be impossible for me to explain all I derived in such a short space, I would like to share with you some suggestions that our spiritual director of the retreat, Father Joe Tetlow, a Jesuit priest shared with us.  What I have done is taken the original 12 suggestions he gave for Catholics and adapted them for us Protestants.  I hope you will find these suggestions as helpful in maintaining your spiritual life as I have.

TWELVE PRACTICES THAT CAN HELP MAINTAIN
YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE WITH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

1.    Praise God as you wake up.  Spend fifteen miutes or even a half-hour in prayer with God beginning with the Apostles Creed, or a Psalm or passage you have memorized.  Ask God to give you what you expect you’ll need to serve God today and pray for those in your life, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

2.    In your time of prayer, pray through the passage suggested by the Upper Room Devotional Study for that day or a daily Bible reading that you have been doing.  If you don’t have a copy of the Upper Room, pick up a copy from our church or subscribe by e-mail for free through this website http://www.upperroom.org/devotional/email.  Always end your prayer speaking directly to God.  End your prayer with the Lord’s prayer which Jesus gave us as the model prayer.

3.    Attend Church and Sunday School each week and feel drawn to it.  Receive communion regularly and take advantage of the various classes and Bible studies offered through the church during the week.

4.    Keep a little prayer book or devotional book such as the Upper Room.  Memorize prayers, hymns and scripture passages that stand out to you in your readings and provide you comfort such as the 23rd Psalm if you don’t already know it.

5.    Surround yourself with symbols of your faith and love.  Wear a cross or other Christian symbol and put Christian art on your wall or desk.  You never know how these symbols may open up an opportunity for you to share your faith with another who inquires about why you wear the symbol.

6.    Read devotional books such as the Upper Room and others that inspire you to live out your Christian faith in a hostile world.  There are also many classical works on living the spiritual life such as Thomas A. Kempis’, The Imitation of Christ John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  If you are looking for devotional books and don’t know where to start, ask your pastor.

7.    Keep a Christian diet and try to exercise several times a week, using food and drink moderately as good gifts of God.  Guard your health because your body is sacred and as Paul reminds us “All of you surely know that you are God’s temple and that his Spirit lives in you.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

8.    Belong to or form a spiritual growth group to pray, study the Bible, or discuss your experiences of God in Christ.  The best place to do this is in some of the groups that we already have in Sunday school classes or even a Disciple Bible Study program.  However, you may choose to form another group which provides more support and requires more accountability.

9.    Get involved in the ministry the Spirit appoints for you: teaching or volunteering to assist in a Sunday school class, visiting the sic, taking care of elderly parents or growing children, helping in a soup kitchen or food pantry, or participating in a mission project.  Take your Christian part in civic life, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and allowing Christian values to guide you in your political decision making.

10.    Create a life-style that lets you use the earth’s resources responsibly and allows you to give generously to those in need.  Consider whether you might give a tenth of your income to the needy.

11.    Make an examination of your conscience daily, in the morning or better yet in the evening when you may review it.  You may want to record these reflections in a journal that you can review periodically.  Ask for God’s guidance by praying something like this, “Oh Lord, please enlighten me with your Holy Spirit as I reflect on this day, and give me the grace to see myself as you see me.  In Jesus name.  Amen.”

You might spend a few minutes following these five points:


A.  Review your day and thank God for the specific blessings God gave you that day.

B.  Ask the Holy Spirit for clarity to review the opportunities God offered you that day and whether you recognized those opportunities and acted or not.

C.  Present your sinfulness to God and ask God to forgive you for your sins and failures of that day through God’s Son, Jesus.

D.  Ask God to clearly reveal to you what God is calling you to change.

E.  Resolve to change that behavior or pattern and ask God for His grace through Christ to strengthen you to change.


12.    Falling asleep, thank God for the day, and leave it in His hands to Whom all is now.  I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  Here is one caveat.  There is nothing magical about these practices.  This is just one spiritual approach designed to help us get in the daily habit of seeking God throughout our day.  Use this discipline if you find it helpful.  But recognize its limitations.  Like any spiritual discipline there is always the danger that it could become just another meaningless ritual supplanting a vital, living relationship with Christ.  When that happens it’s time to discard it.
Grace & Peace,

Darrell
 
January 2014 Pastor Corner
Transforming New Year’s Resolutions
    For most of us, New Year’s resolutions are very short lived.  We pretty well put them away with the Christmas decorations.  One of the reasons for this is most of our resolutions are safe, sensible and self-centered.  Our resolutions have to do with whatever makes us feel better about ourselves such as losing ten pounds or joining a health club, watching less TV and reading more books, etc.  Most of our resolutions address the symptoms of our problem but not the disease.  We’re happy to make little cosmetic changes as long as they don’t create any lasting systemic changes in our attitude or our lifestyle.

    What would happen if instead, we made it our goal to live in the light of God’s intentions rather than our own human inventions?  What if we made Christ’s priorities our priorities this year?  How would our lives be different if this year, we made God’s business our business?  And just what is God’s business?  God’s business is the same it has always been: o transform the world - one person at a time.

    That transformation has to begin with us.  We can hardly seek to change the world while we ourselves stand in need of change.  That change may mean inviting Christ to live in us.  Some of us may never have done this.  It can be the beginning not only of a new year but the first day of the rest of your life - a new life in Christ.

    For others of us that change may mean inviting Christ to live through us, surrendering our lives to Him and His service so that we can share His light with others.  George Everett Ross tells the following story that illustrates our torch-lighting task in this world: 

    “I shall always remember a certain Idaho holiday at Sun Valley.  the snow that night was deep and crisp.  We had gone for the annual ceremony of the lighting of the ski slope.  At the tope of a particular mountain, as we looked at it from the lodge, we could see a faint light, and then another and then a lot of them.  Gradually, down the slope the skiers with their torches came and, as they descended, they lighted other torches along the way, until a lovely design of warm, glowing light stretched across the frozen snow.  We could not see the torchbearers, but we could see the progress of the light.  I hold that image, my friends, in my mind as an image of the Christian Church.  We ourselves may not be seen.  No distant preacher will use our name.  But believe this: Each one of us has a light to carry and a torch to light.  All that matters is whether we leave some light behind us as we go.”

    Here’s wishing for you truly transforming resolutions that will not only help create a prosperous and happy new year for you, but more importantly a year in which you leave some light behind you wherever you go.

                            Grace and Peace,
                            Darrell
 
December Pastor Corner
People frequently as me what is an interim minister and what do they do?  Interim ministry is relatively new in the United Methodist Church and just started a little over a decade ago.  In the past, in the United Methodist process of appointing pastors, often the successor arrived the very day the departing pastor moved out.  Because there was no interval between pastors, no interim pastor was needed.

However, the General Conference of 1996 placed the term Interim Minister in the Book of Discipline.  The 2004 Discipline reads, Par. 338.3:

Interim appointments may be made to charges that have special transitional needs.
      a) Interim clergy may serve outside the annual conference where membership is held under the provisions of paragraph 337.1, with approval and consent of the bishops involved.
      b) Interim appointments will be for a specified length of time, established in advance following consultation with the district superintendent, the pastor parish relations committee, and the interim pastor.

So why do we need interim ministers anyway?  The idea of pastoral transitions in the UMC is similar to running the mile relay race in the Olympic Games.  A baton is passed from each runner to the next, in full stride, never missing a beat.  So the total race is run more efficiently by multiple runners than could be achieved by any one runner.  That’s fine, unless the baton is mishandled – not passed at the right time or within the prescribed space – or dropped.

And it can happen in pastoral changes, too.  The “opening” comes at the wrong time.  The “right” successor is not presently available.  The church is so wounded by the circumstances creating the opening that healing time will be required before it can fully embrace the leadership of a regularly appointed pastor.

An interim minister, sometimes called a TIIMS, a Transitional Intentional-Interim Ministry Specialist, is an experienced, mature, United Methodist pastor trained for the specialized ministry of the interim time.  He/she is appointed by the bishop “for a specified length of time, established in advance” to lead the congregation in a time of healing and renewal as its wounds heal and it prepares for a new day in its life with a new pastor, yet to be appointed.

Interim Ministry is a far-cry from simple “pulpit supply!”  Supply is akin to just keeping the doors open so the congregation still worships during the transitional time.  Interim Ministry is a time of analyzing the wounds and hurts of a church and leading it to face or deal with these with clearly stated goal of bringing new congregational health and a return to vital ministry in the community.

Transitional Intentional Interim Ministry Specialists are NOT supply pastors.  We are NOT filling a pulpit.  We are specialists serving for a specific period of time with specific ministerial tasks.  Our functions are suggested by each of the words in our title:

Transitional – One function is to bring the church from wherever it is to a new, hopeful and creative place in ministry.  Part of our job is to move the church to a new place in preparation for its next pastor and to help it through that transition.

Intentional – We enter into a church with four specific formative tasks:
      1.  Identity: To help the church see its identity realistically.
      2.  Direction: To guide the church in discerning God’s leading for the church.
      3.  Leadership: To equip the church’s changing leadership.
      4.  Connection: To strengthen the church’s denominational connection.
The only pressure we allow ourselves is completing these tasks in the allotted time.

Interim – We are here to serve for a limited period of time with a specific beginning and ending date.

Ministry – What we do is every bit as important and essential to the church as the generalist in ministry, the local pastor.  However, out tasks are limited, time bounded and specific.

Specialist – What we do is highly specialized ministry.  We are very intentional and specialized in our tasks of ministry for a designated period of time, helping churches transition from whatever their situation is now to a new situation.

Probably the most helpful way to think of us is as specialists.  If you needed heart surgery you wouldn’t go to a general practitioner.  You would want a heart specialist with skills in heart surgery.  Sometimes churches need interims who are specially trained to help churches through transitions to come to terms with their history, their identity, their changing leaders during the transition, their connections with the conference and their hopes for the future.  That’s where interims can be helpful.  Part of their effectiveness comes in knowing that they are only temporary and will only be serving in the interim between regular pastors.

Another helpful way of thinking of us is as backup quarterbacks.  When the quarterback is injured or incapacitated in some way a backup quarterback can play a vital role in helping the team to win the game.  A few years ago, we saw the importance of a backup quarterback dramatically demonstrated in the recent Orange Bowl game between Texas and Alabama when Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was injured.  Unfortunately, Texas really didn’t have a capable backup quarterback freshman who was sent in to replace McCoy and the game was no contest after that.  Interim ministers, like backup quarterbacks, can play a vital role in helping congregations to become equipped and ready for their new pastor.

I love interim ministry and know God has called me to this specialized area of ministry.  I consider it a privilege to work with you and ask that you pray for me as we work together through the five developmental tasks in preparation for your new pastor.

See you Sunday.
     In Joyful Service,
          Darrell

 
 
 
The following are by previous pastor, Dan Danheim
 
November Pastor Corner
 
Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today.  Warren Wiersby illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians.  He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad.  In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers.  In the process, his health was permanently damaged.  Some years later, at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
 
As you know this will be Kathy's and my last month in active Methodist Ministry.  At the end of this month I will be retired.  I am thankful that I am able to retire, but more than that, I am thankful to have had almost 45 years to serve God as a United Methodist Minister.  I have been blessed.  I am thankful for my Bishops who have appointed me to many wonderful churches who have blessed me and to the many friends that I have met along the way who have enriched my life as I have served those churches.
 
Mostly I am thankful to God who called me to serve Him.  He has never failed me.  He has strengthened me and sustained me in every situation.  What an appropriate time to retire during the month of Thanksgiving.  I shall have a whole month to celebrate and thank God for His many blessings that I have received in fulfilling His calling.
 
See you Sunday,
Your Pastor,
Dan Danheim
 
October Pastor Corner
 
In the late 1800's there was a little 12 year-old country boy who had never seen a circus.  One autumn afternoon, he saw a poster at school announcing that on the next Saturday a circus was coming to town.  Excitedly, he ran home with the news and asked, "Daddy, can I go?"
 
Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad.  "If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time," he said, "I'll see to it that you have the money to go."
 
After his chores were done on Saturday morning, the little boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best.  His father reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill-the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all of his life.  The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.
 
The boy was so excited, his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way.  As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening.  Lo and behold, it was the approaching spectacle of a circus parade!  The parade was the grandest thing this lad had ever seen.  Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead.
 
Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted face, brought up the rear.
 
As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill.  Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned and went home.  Why?  The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade!
 
Are you experiencing all that God has for you?  The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey that is meant to last an entire lifetime! Yet many Christians seem to be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for second best.  Or, like the boy, they continually miss the circus after seeing the parade.  They assume that is all there is to the Christian life.  They see the parade but miss the circus.  How about you - do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised?
 
See you Sunday,
Your Pastor,
Dan Danheim
 
September Pastor Corner
 
It has happened to all of us: the fear of having car trouble in an isolated area.  In this story an out-of-towner driving on a rain-slick road skidded into a ditch.  Luckily, a local farmer happened by with his big strong horse, Buddy.
 
The grateful motorist watched as the farmer hitched Buddy to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!"  Buddy didn't move.
 
"Pull, Buster, pull!" the farmer hollered.  Buddy didn't move.
 
"Pull, Coco, pull!" the farmer commanded once more.  Buddy didn't move.
 
Finally, nonchalantly, the farmer said to Buddy, "Pull, Buddy, pull."  And Buddy easily pulled the car from the ditch.
 
"Why did you call Buddy the wrong name three times?" asked the appreciative but curious motorist.
 
"Well, old Buddy is blind," said the farmer.  "If he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn't even try!"
 
The farmer may have tricked old Buddy into doing the work of a team, but when it comes to doing God's work, you simply can't do it alone, even if you try.  That is why it is so important for us to work together.  An overwhelming task for one person becomes an easy job when undertaken by many.
 
That is the way that God intended ministry to be done.  If everyone steps up and takes part, great ministry can be done with reasonable effort.  That is God's plan: for all of us to be in ministry together.  When executed, God's plans always work.
 
Your Pastor,
Dan Danheim
 
August Pastor Corner
 
I entered the United Methodist Ministry on June 1, 1969 as a Student Pastor. It didn't take long for me to see and understand the effect of a good story to illustrate a point.  For around 43 years I have been collecting stories. Many I have used in sermons.
 
In August of 1989 I found the following story in "Today In The Word." I have frequently thought of this story when my mind turned to acts of courage. I hope you enjoy it.
 
The Prussian king, Frederick the Great, was widely known as an agnostic. By contrast, General Von Zealand, one of his most trusted officers, was a devout Christan. Thus it was that during a festive gathering the king began making crude jokes about Christ until everyone was rocking with laughter - all but Von Zealand, that.  Finally, he arose and addressed the king: "Sire, you know that I have not feared death. I have found and won 38 battles for you. I am an old man; I shall soon have to go into the presence of One greater than you, the mighty God who saved me from my sin, the Lord Jesus Christ whom you are blaspheming. I salute you, sire, as an old old man who loves his Savior, on the edge of eternity." The place went silent, and with a trembling voice the king replied. "General Von Zealand - I beg your pardon! I beg your pardon!" And with that the party quietly ended.
 
I wonder if I could be so courageous in the expression of the love I have for my Savior.
 
Your Pastor,
Dan Danheim

July's Pastor Corner
 
I thought it might be appropriate to commemorate Independence Day with a few quotes. The first two give testimony to God Almighty the creator who is the source of our freedom and independence.  The third, more humorous one, gives a sense of the joy and peace that we experience as citizens of this fair and blessed land. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired by them.
 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
-The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776
 
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.
-John Adams
 
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
-Erma Bombeck
 
Revere and enjoy what has been handed down to us.
Your Pastor,
Dan Danheim

Blessed to be a Blessing
Special Message by: Butch Batchelor

Sunday schools can be a real blessing to those who attend them. I am pleased to be a facilitator for the Promise Class that meets in the Ministry Center every Sunday morning at 9:45. For the past several sessions we have been enjoying a series written by Adam Hamilton called “Enough”. The following are key insights that Rev. Hamilton offers to enhance our Christian calling. “Enough” refers to money and how we utilize it. He asks, “If you were free from debt, how might you be able to use your resources to make a difference in the lives of others?”

It’s about money and more importantly our life’s purpose. “Society tells us that our life purpose is to consume; the Bible tells us that our life purpose is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our money and possessions should be devoted to helping us fulfill this calling.” How do we accomplish this when there is barely enough to pay our family’s expenses?

Without a plan to reach our goals, we are in danger of becoming like the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance and had no plans but to spend his money foolishly. A plan gives us concrete steps that we can take to accomplish our goals.

Here are six financial planning principles that can help all of us become better money managers:

Pay your tithe and offering first.

Create a budget and track your expenses.

Simplify your lifestyle (live below your means).

Establish an emergency fund.





First United Methodist Church, Mineola Texas