May 19, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog May 19, 2019 I read this devotion this week and it struck me how true this devotion is when we get recordings stuck in our heads and they seem to play over and over. And “only if” is one of those. Let’s take this Scripture to heart and head and change the script and music when it becomes redundant…in a not so good way. Blessings! “If Only I Had…” by Lysa TerKeurst “There’s a simple, yet incredibly dangerous little script many of us play in our minds. It might even be one of the biggest things holds us back from feeling fulfilled in our relationship with God. It’s a script tangled in a lie that typically goes something like this: I could really be happy and fulfilled if only I had… …a skinnier body …more money …a better personality …a baby I don’t know what your ‘If only I had’ statements are, but I do know this: none of them will bring fulfillment. They might bring temporary moments of happiness, but not true fulfillment. Apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if we got everything on our list, there would still be a hollow gap in our soul. So instead of saying, ‘If only I had’ and filling in the blank with some person, possession, or position, we must make the choice to replace that statement with God’s truth. Psalm 19:7-8 confirms just how powerful and beneficial the truth of God’s word is: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.’” (Lysa TerKeust. “Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close.”)

June 16, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 16, 2019 Kim Straughn, as the church’s Lay Delegate, and I attended the 177th Florida Annual Conference this past week in Lakeland, FL on the campus of Florida Southern College. This campus is famous as it was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. FYI. Kim will present a report to the Church on this year’s Annual Conference in the near future. Just think about how long the Methodist Church has been meeting in FL. The Florida Conference and the state of Florida came into existence about the same time. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy reading a brief history of our Conference as found on the FL Conference website. “Methodism came to Florida with the circuit riders who followed the trails across the border from Georgia after the United States took control of the territory from the Spanish in 1821. Work in the peninsula of Florida, historically known as East Florida, came officially under the South Carolina Conference in January 1822, when the first appointment was made to Amelia Island. In 1831, the conference was divided and the newly formed Georgia Conference assumed the Florida work. In December 1821 the Mississippi Conference had assigned a preacher to Pensacola, in what was known as West Florida. Eventually, however, the Panhandle came under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Conference and later the Alabama-West Florida Conference, where it remains today. By the 1840s came the push for statehood and along with its momentum came the push among Methodists to establish a conference of their own. The General Conference of 1844 created the Florida Conference, and on February 6, 1845, in Tallahassee it was organized as part of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Statehood came a month later. Together the state and the conference grew to maturity. Since 1845 the work in Florida has been carried out in a number of conferences, which have been created, divided, and united. In 1939 three of those conferences—the Florida Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the St. Johns River Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Florida Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church—united to form the Florida Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, of The Methodist Church. At the same time the two black conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church became part of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church. They united in 1952. In 1968 The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which had had a presence in Florida since 1895, and the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church came into being. In 1969 the Central Jurisdiction churches also became part of the Florida Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, of The United Methodist Church. The story of the Florida Conference is written in the lives of the circuit riders and their modern-day counterparts who have followed the waves of population throughout the state, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also written in the work of the people of local churches who have responded to the call of the gospel.” Further information can be found in the following histories of the Florida Conference: Florida Flame, by the Reverend Robert M. Temple, Jr., 1987 From Saddlebags to Satellites, edited by the Reverend William E. Brooks, 1969 The Trail of the Florida Circuit Rider, by Dr. Charles Tinsley Thrift, Jr., 1944

June 9, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 9, 2019 Pentecost Sunday Happy Birthday to the Church! Over two thousand years ago the Christian Church came into existence on the day of Pentecost. You can read about it in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts. I ran across this online devotional and the author was basically recounting the main points in my Pentecost sermon for June 9, so I thought I would share it with you and those of you who may not have been in church Sunday. A Devotion by Julius Medenblik Online Devotion dated May 20, 2018 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. — Acts 2:4 Ten days have passed since Jesus ascended to heaven and instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem. The day of Pentecost has now arrived. Pentecost is not just something found in the New Testament, it is actually an Old Testament holiday tied with the Feast of Harvest, or the Feast of Weeks, noting the beginning of harvesttime. This is also a time when religious pilgrims would travel to Jerusalem from faraway lands. So “God-fearing Jews from ¬every nation” are present for this event. A blowing, violent wind is followed by what appears to be tongues of fire separating and resting on the disciples. People from many nations gather to see what is going on. And something bewildering and wonderful occurs. Everyone can understand what is being said! The words of the disciples find their mark because those who are listening can hear the message in their own language. The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), where God confused the people’s language, is reversed by the Holy Spirit so that people can understand one another. And throughout the crowd, people are wondering, “What does this mean?” A harvest of souls is being gathered. This is an example of what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest” (John 4:35). Prayer. Lord of the harvest, thank you for sending your Spirit to empower us to be your witnesses in word and deed. May our words be guided and even translated by your Spirit. Amen.

June 2, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 2, 2019 How many of us know that life does not always come up roses? I think we all do simply because of life experience. It would be great if it did, but it doesn’t. The Bible also tells us that life doesn’t always come up roses where everything works out just the way we want it. Sometimes, life finds a creative way to discourage us. God, knowing that, has given us some Scriptures to encourage us. Here are a few. “We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5. “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:7. Remember God loves you, even when you are discouraged. “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12. A thought to go with these Scriptures is taken from “God’s Little Lessons for Leaders: Honor Books, Tulsa, OK. “Prizefighter James J. Corbett made many memorable statements during his colorful career, but perhaps his most famous was when he was asked, ‘What is the most important thing for a man to do to become a champion?’ Corbett replied, ‘Fight one more round.’ Many successful people have had that perspective. Thomas Gray wrote seventy-five drafts of ‘Elegy Written in a Country Chruchyard’ before he was satisfied with his poetic masterpiece. S.N. Behrman, an American playwright, wrote plays for eleven years before he sold one. Somerset Maugham earned only $500 in his first 10 years as a writer. While working full-time in a factory, Enrico Caruso studied voice for 12 years before he became a successful performer. George Gershwin composed almost one hundred melodies before he sold his first one…for $5.00. During his first five years as a writer, Zane Grey couldn’t sell a single story. Don’t be discouraged if your dream doesn’t come true immediately. Continue to pursue your craft or talent. Study and learn. Grow by experience. Keep working. The victory goes to those who are willing to fight, ‘One more round!’”