Pastor Steve’s Blog Nov 4, 2018 One of the events mainline churches celebrate every year is All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday. We have a tradition in the United Methodist Church of celebrating those saints who have died over the past year since the last All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday. It is also a time to recall the previous loss of a loved one no matter when they passed from this life unto eternal life. All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday is a gift that has been handed down to us from our forefathers in the church. It gives us permission to reconnect once again in a spiritual and affirming way with our loved ones and recall the precious memories they imparted to us along the way, particularly in matters of the faith. I read an online article this week at UMC.org by Joe Iovino entitled: “All Saints Day: A holy day John Wesley loved.” Let me share some of it with you. “John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it ‘a festival I truly love.’ On that same day in 1788, he writes, ‘I always find this a comfortable day.’ The following year he calls it ‘a day that I peculiarly love….’ From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on…. Charles Wesley, John’s brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist hymnal as ‘Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above, #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages: ‘Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.’”
November 4, 2018
January 13, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog Jan 13, 2019 I wake up in the morning and I don’t want to turn on the television. Why? Because of all the goings on in Washington these days. It’s all enough to drive you crazy if that is all you hear all day. But I will say this, when I wake up in the morning, the one thing I do want to do, besides having a little breakfast and contemplating going to the gym, is opening up the Bible and turning God on in my mind and spirit first thing. My day certainly goes better when I spend those few minutes starting out with God. Lysa TerKeurst, in her book, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close shares a devotion on “Giving My First Moments to God.” She uses Psalm 86:11 as the foundation for her devotion. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Let her devotion prayer be your prayer this week as you begin each day. “Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by your Word and not my feelings. Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be. Help me embrace what comes my way as an opportunity…rather than a personal inconvenience. And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13: ‘Great is your love toward me.’ You already see the ways I will fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me…shortcomings and all. That’s amazing. But what is most amazing is that the Savior of the world would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. In Jesus name, Amen.”
January 6, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog Jan 6, 2019 As we start out the New Year, I want to share this inspirational thought about “the true standard of success.” “Bobby Jones, one of golf’s greatest players, was only 5 years old when he first swung a golf club. By the age of 12, he was winning golf tournaments. During this time, he was known for his hot temper, and he soon had the nickname “Club Thrower.” Jones became friends with a man named Grandpa Bart, who worked part-time in the club pro shop. Bart had been an excellent golfer but had retired when arthritis gripped his hands. After Bobby lost the National Amateur Tournament at the age of 14, he said, “Bobby, you are good enough to win that tournament, but you’ll never win until you can control that temper of yours. You miss a shot---you get upset---then you lose.” Bobby knew Grandpa Bart was right, and he became determined to improve---not his golf swing---but his mood swings. When Bobby won a major tournament at age 21, Grandpa Bart said, “Bobby was 14 when he mastered the game of golf, but he was 21 when he mastered himself.” Records are always established in relationship to other people’s performance, but the true “standard of success” is established within the competitor. Let your “standard of success” be one that includes controlling your temper and taming your tongue. As a leader, you will be setting a Godly example for others to follow.” James 1:19-20 (KJV): “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” “God’s Little Lessons for Leaders.” Tulsa, OK: Honor Books, 2001, p. 9.
December 30, 2018
Pastor Steve’s Blog December 30, 2018 Well, we are finishing up another year of life. One more year in the books, so to speak. These milestone times are the times we can reflect back on all the things that have happened over this past year… both good and some not so good. It is also a time to remember that no matter what we went through this past year, God was always there with us, never leaving or forsaking us. God is a good God. He does not leave us as orphans. He loves us more than we will ever know and God expresses His love to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the personal presence of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the strength and courage we need to always move forward so that we might continue to grow into Christ’s likeness. With these thoughts in mind, let me ask you the following questions. Take a few moments and reflect on each of these. What blessings did God bestowed upon you in 2018? In what ways did God help you when you needed it most? When did you feel the Holy Spirit’s presence most strongly?