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
August 19, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog August 19, 2019 I have a few passages of Scripture for you to read in preparation for next Sunday’s message. Our focus will be on the spiritual discipline of fasting and what Jesus had to say as found in Mark 2:18-22. Please read the passages below. Mark 2:18-22 New International Version (NIV) Jesus Questioned About Fasting 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” 19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” There are four kinds of fasts in the Bible. The normal fast which is where one abstains from food, but drinks water. Read Matthew 4:1-11. The partial fast which is where one abstains from all delicacies, meats and wine. Read Daniel 10. The absolute fast which is where one abstains from both food and water for a short time. Usually 3 days. Read Esther 4:15-17. The supernatural fast which is where God sustains one for a long period of time while abstaining from food and water. Read Deuteronomy 9:9.
August 12, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog August 12, 2019 Judging from the average age of our congregation, most of us grew up hearing from “Smokey the Bear” about how “only you can prevent forest fires.” Well, it’s his birthday and it’s a milestone birthday. I saw this article online by Janine Puhak and I thought I would share it with you, since “Smokey the Bear” is something we all have in common. “Happy birthday, Smokey Bear! On Friday, the legendary mascot of the U.S. Forest Service officially turns 75 years old — though you’d never guess his age from that bear-y handsome face. The mascot was “born” on Aug. 9, 1944, when the Forest Service and Ad Council teamed up to create a fictional character to promote fire prevention safety and awareness. Deep into World War II, federal officials feared that America’s expansive forests could become a target for foreign enemies. The Forest Service wanted, you know, something strong," Wendy Melillo, a professor at American University, told NPR. "But it wanted it animated to be appealing ... to children and families. And so the first Smokey is a really sweet looking bear with a pair of jeans on and he's holding a bucket of water and he's pouring it over the campfire." As times evolved so did Smokey, who picked up a must-have shovel along the way and has since been illustrated with emotions ranging from playful to powerful, serious to sweet. According to Melillio, at one point in time Smokey even had his own ZIP code for fans to send letters, with "the occasional pot of honey” finding its way into the mail. In 1950, following a blaze in the Capitan Mountains, firefighters in New Mexico found a cub with severely burned paws and hind legs. They named the cub “Smokey Bear” after New York Assistant Fire Chief, "Smokey" Joe Martin, and the cub accepted a life in the spotlight of public duties and service. Sixteen years later, the bear passed away, with his remains buried in what is now Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan — not far from where he was first found. According to a study published in February 2017 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 84 percent of the blazes that firefighters were called to fight in the U.S. between 1992 and 2012 were ignited by people. Happy birthday, big guy — just be careful blowing out those birthday candles.”
August 5, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog August 5, 2019 I like reading various devotions because it gives God an opportunity to speak to me through those that write them. As I read one this past week, I heard myself saying, “This is really good stuff. Why didn’t I think of that?” So I want to share this devotion with you from Lysa TerKeurst entitled: “Why Would God Let This Happen?” I know we have all asked that question before. Lysa offers some great insights when we find ourselves in difficult situations. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10. “I wonder what would happen in our lives if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love. I mean, as Christians we know He loves us. We sing the songs, we quote the verses, we wear the T-shirts and we sport the bumper stickers. Yes, God loves us. I’m not talking about knowing He loves us. I’m talking about living as if we really believe it. I’m talking about walking confidently in the certainty of God’s love even when our feelings beg us not to. I’m talking about training our hearts and our minds to process everything through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love. Period. Without the possible question mark. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a precious mom whose eldest daughter is nearing thirty and has never had a boyfriend. The younger siblings have all gone through the whole dating thing and one is now engaged to be married. The eldest daughter sat on the side of her mom’s bed recently with tears slipping down her cheeks and said, ‘Why mom? Why can’t I find anyone to love me? What’s wrong with me?’ This mom was asking me for advice in helping her daughter process these questions. These feelings are real. These feelings are tough. And I’m sure if I were able to untangle all the emotions wrapped in and around these questions, somewhere deep inside I would find this girl doubting God’s love for her. But here’s the thing I’ve learned through my own heartbreak and doubt…we must process our hurts through the filter of God’s love, not through the tangled places of our hearts. When we process things through the tangled places of our hearts, often the outcome is, If God loves me so much, why would He let this happen? Instead when we process things through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love, the outcome is: God loves me so much, therefore I have to trust why He is allowing this to happen…. The devotion prayer: Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”