Pastor Mindy Huffman's Memo

Wednesday, October 13

Seeking God in Everything

You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is in on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve al of them; and the host of heaven worships you. Nehemiah 9:6

In worship each Sunday morning I ask for Glory Sightings (instead of joys).  I think, we as a society as a whole, spend to much time looking down – down at our phones – down at the news – down at the ground – away from the very source that gives us life and joy.  The more we look down, the angrier, sadder and more despondent we get and we begin to take on a woe is me attitude.  All of our problems and issues are magnified because we are looking down – instead of up – up to the very source that gives light – hope – love and grace.  

With glory sightings, I invite you to look up – to look up to the Creator so that you can partake of all the glory sightings He is offering all around us each and every day.  Learning to seek the face of God, after all is the very foundation for experiencing the amazing life Jesus died to give us.  We have available to us through Jesus all the wonders, all the miracles, all the glory sightings we can fathom.  Our great and awesome God has granted us grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, love upon love. When we pursue Him and the things he would have us be about then God opens doors to us to provide all God longs to give us.  If we look up and seek God – wow – what a difference that will make. And just maybe we will be able to proclaim the glory of God to the world around us through our attitudes, through our actions and interactions with others.

Every part of creation, from the smallest of insect to the mountains in all their grandeur, proclaims the unspoken glory of God. Every living creature, rock, grain of sand, and mountain stream was created for a specific purpose. In the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, we discover God’s faithfulness and provision. With every sunrise we are reminded of Jesus’ imminent return. And with every gust of wind, we are beckoned to live our lives as people of the Spirit.  

To seek God without taking notice of his creation is to miss out on one of the most tangible and beautiful ways God speaks to us.  As God begins to paint in autumn colors, I invite you to look up, look out, admire and reflect on the work of God’s hands.  Learn about our Creator through how he cares for nature.  Scripture, after all, is filled with revelation received by God speaking through his creation.  He has made everything, including us as individuals and as a body of Christ, as he did for a perfect and beneficial reason.  Look up – look up to the source of light, love, joy and hope – see the glory God provides – give thanks – and share the glory with others.

May we be children who seek God through every avenue available. May we be believers who have the faith and patience to learn about our heavenly Father by the work of his hands. May we be believers who are always looking up, catching the glimpses of glory provided, that we might be filled with the light of His glory that we can radiate it (share it) to those around us, that we might bring God’s love to the world and glory and honor to our God.

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, October 6

                                    I Love To Tell the Story

“…….I love to tell the story; tis pleasant to repeat what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.  I love to tell the story, for some have never heard, the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word……….”

With Laity Sunday coming up on Oct 17th, the invitation has been made for folks to share their faith stories with the congregation.  While I will be away, I hope many of you will be willing to share your stories.  As I thought about sharing our faith stories and God’s great story, I was reminded of this devotion:  There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending University.  Brother Christianson was one of the teachers.  He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period class and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson’s class.  Steve was told he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back.  He would also be the first to leave as soon as class was over.

One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.  Brother Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “You think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?”  Steve’s answer was, “Yeah, I do!”   Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many pushups can you do?”  Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”  “200?  That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said.  “Do you think you could do 300?”  Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time before.”  “Do you think you could?”  asked Brother Christianson.  “Well, I can try,” said Steve.  “Can you do 300 in sets of 10?  I need you to do 300 in sets of 10 for this to work.  Can you do it?  I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said.  Steve said, “Well, I think I can.  Yeah, I can do it.”  Brother Christianson said, “Good!  I need you to do this on Friday.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.  When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts.  Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were Krispy Kremes, with cream centers and frosting, and sprinkles, still fresh and warm.  Everyone was pretty excited because it was Friday, and the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early to start on the weekend.

Brother Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?”  He then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Cynthia can have a donut?  Steve said, “Sure,” and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk.  Brother Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.  He then went to Joe, the next person and asked, “Joe do you want a donut?”  Joe said, “Yes.”  Brother Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten pushups so Joe can have a donut?”  Steve did ten pushups, and Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut.  And down the second aisle, till Brother Christianson came to Scott.  Scott was captain of the football team.  He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.  When Brother Christianson asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”  Scott’s reply was, “Well can I do my own pushups?”  Brother Christianson said, “No Steve has to do them.”  Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”  Brother Christianson turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he does not want,” Steve started to do ten pushups.  Scott said, “Hey, I said I didn’t want one!”  Brother Christianson said, “Look this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts.  Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.”  And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

By this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little.  He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.  Brother Christianson started down the third row.  Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Brother Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”  Jenny said, “No.”  The Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut she doesn’t want?”  Steve did ten and Jenny got a donut.  By now, the students were beginning to say “No,” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.  Steve was really struggling to put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut.  There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.  Brother Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts.  So, Robert began to watch Steve closely. Brother Christianson started down the fourth row. 

During the class, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters on the sides of the room.  When Brother Christianson realized this, he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room.  He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.  He went on the next person and the next and the next.  Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time.  He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.  Steve asked Brother Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”  Brother Christianson thought for a moment, “Well they’re your pushups.  You can do them any way that you want,” and then continued handing out donuts.  A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, “NO!” Jason didn’t know what was going on.  Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”  Brother Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”  Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.”  Bother Christianson said, “okay, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now.  Jason, do you want a donut?”  “Yes”  “Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?”  Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort.  Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.  Brother Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters.  Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity.  Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular.  Brother Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a donut?”  Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”  Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”  Grunting from effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.  Then Brother Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan.  “Susan, do you want a donut?”  Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Brother Christianson, can I help him?”  With tears in his own eyes, Brother Christianson said, “No, he has to do it alone.  Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.  Brother Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the Father, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died.  And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Don’t leave his gift unopened.  Let others know about the gift he offers to them. Share your faith story – share it often.  May we be Christians who truly “Love to Tell the Story,” and shine the light of Christ to those around us.

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, September 29

Quietness

 

Therefore, the Lord God, the holy one of Israel, says: In return and rest you will be saved; quietness and trust will be your strength but you refused.  Isaiah 30:15

 

My word for today from my devotion, Dwelling Places: Words to Live By in Every Season is Quietness.  

The world we live in is so fast paced – so noisy.  At times it can seem overwhelming.  In a world where noise is the name of the day where can we go to find quietness – where our souls can find relief and refreshment?  

The hymn There is a Quiet Place gives some insight.  There is a quiet place – far from the rapid pace – where God can soothe my troubled mind.  Sheltered by tree and flower – there in my quiet hour with him – my cares are left behind.  Whether a garden small – or on a mountain tall – new strength and courage there I find, - and then from that quiet place – I go prepared to face a new day – with love for all mankind.

Do you have a quiet place – a corner, a pond, a path, a room, a chair – a quiet place you can go and experience God’s peace and presence?  Are you intentional each day about your time with God?  Or like the Israelites in Isaiah 30:15 who have once again turned away from God in order to pursue all the world has to offer? Isaiah is begging them to return and find strength through quietness and rest.  Will we like them refuse?  God is longing to talk with us, but we cannot hear if our lives are always filled with the noises of the world and the chatter of our own voice.  

Go to your quiet place at least once a day – turn off your electronic devices – turn off the world – be still and know – know the reassuring voice of God and allow him to refresh your soul and prepare you for another day of shining the light of Christ and bringing honor and glory to God’s holy name in all that you say and do.

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, September 22

Dwell

 

Psalm 91:1: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the almighty.

 

Revelation 21:3 God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

 

I began reading a new devotion today – Dwelling Places: Words to Live By in Every Season.  Today’s word is Dwell.  Dwell id not a word we use a lot. But it’s one I think we are good at in some ways and not so good in others.  Webster says dwell means to live or to focus.  

 

I think we are very good at dwelling (focusing) on our own or other people’s past mistakes.  We are very good at dwelling on our circumstances.  We are good at focusing on self-preservation, tasks and things. When we dwell in this manner we live amid hurry and obligation.  We live with anxiety, and we are surrounded by noise.  

 

But there is an alternative.  Throughout Scripture God continually calls us, his people to dwell with him constantly.

 

What does it mean to dwell with God?  In Hebrew the word dwell means to sit down, to remain.  God desires for us to sit down in his presence and remain there for a time that we might grow in our relationship with him and at the same time have our soul’s regenerated, refreshed.  When we sit down and dwell with God, he offers us a refuge, a shelter. He offers us peace and joy.  It is so challenging in our crazy, chaotic world to find the time to dwell with God.  But the challenge is not to find time – but to make time – make time each and every day to dwell with God. 

 

 Can we dwell with God for a little while each day?  We have dwelt everywhere else – we give our time and treasures to other people, places, projects often without even giving it a thought.  What would each of our lives look like if we dwelt each day with God?  Would there be less hate in our world?  Would we be a better spouse, child, parent, sibling, coworker, boss, friend?  Would we radiate a spirit of peace and contentment to those around us?  Would the light of Christ ooze out of us?

 

I invite you to practice dwelling with God.  

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, September 15

Don’t Shutout God

 

In my devotional readings – I have been reading a book called Mornings with Bonhoeffer. It is based on the writings and thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a German pastor who was imprisoned by the Nazi’s and died in a prison camp near the end of the war.  Bonhoeffer was a man of great faith and strong convictions.

 

This morning, James 1:19-21 was the scripture reading.  This passage tells us that Christians should be quick to listen – slow to speak – and slow to get angry.  Because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.

Bonhoeffer makes an interesting statement – he says, “Christians who can no longer listen to each other will soon no longer be listening to God – they will always be talking even in the presence of God.”

 

As I reflected on those words from James and from Bonhoeffer – especially  in light of the struggles and issues that have been going on in our United Methodist denomination and the struggles and issues in our political and social arenas here in America – and it had an great impact on me.  Have we as American citizens, in a rush to get our views, opinions, beliefs and ideas to the forefront stopped listening to one another.  And maybe even sadder, have we as Christians, in a rush to get our views, opinions, beliefs and ideas to the forefront stopped listening to one another – and sadly in the process stopped listening to God?  If each of us, who professes to be a Christian would pray daily for God to knit our hearts to his – for God to guide our words and actions each day – and for God to tune our ears to hear His voice, His channel – that we would hear His voice above all the other noise of our world.  What a difference that might make – if we would all consciously begin to listen to God – and then to one another.  Maybe it would become less about who is right and who is wrong and more about Jesus Christ and the mission we have been given.  Maybe then there might be less strife, discord, discontent and hatred in our churches, in our communities, in our country and in the world.

We must all strive to be quick to listen to others so we can be able to listen to God.  Because listening to others is what God calls us to do – is it not?

Pastor Mindy

 



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Wednesday, September 8

Carriers of Joy

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

Did you know that as disciples of Jesus, as children of the Most High God we are tasked with being carriers of joy?  You and I are marked by contagious, unceasing joy.  And through the Holy Spirit we are provided access to an unending supply of joy that comes from the wellspring of our relationship with God.  God desires, yearns and longs to fill us with his joy so we can live the abundant life Jesus died to give us.  God longs to make us children fashioned in the image of our Father that we might share his unending joy to a world without hope.

With this unceasing joy that is provided to us – we have the power to brighten people’s days, to break the heaviness and lead people to a deeper revelation of the goodness of the Mighty and Awesome God we know, love and serve as we reflect His joy to others.

God is a joyful God, and he is the inventor of happiness and fun.  Luke 15:10 says, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is [our] strength.” So, in order for us to truly declare to the world who our heavenly Father is, we must be carriers of His joy – reflecting it to all we meet. 

 You and I are to carry the joy of our salvation everywhere we go.  As disciples, created in the image of our Heavenly Father, we must be a people marked by the joy that only comes from a restored relationship with an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God.

The deeper in our relationship with God we grow – the more we love him – the more we come to know that circumstances, people, trials, work and worldly stress cannot steal our joy.  It is when we open our hearts to outside elements that we allow stresses to come in like robbers and take what is rightfully ours in the Lord. It’s when we allow a fellow driver, a time crunch, a negative comment, or a troublesome problem to take precedence over the joy and hope we have in Jesus that we step outside of our allotted portion of peace.

For us to be carriers of joy, we have to choose to value the fruit of the Spirit over worldly emotions. We have to choose to only open our hearts to the things of God and shrug off that which is fleeting. If we don’t take control of our thoughts and cast any fear, worry or doubt on the shoulders of our heavenly Father, the circumstances of this world will rule our emotions rather than the steadfast joy of the Spirit. 

The Lord longs to make us children who are overwhelmed by his love to the degree that the cares of this world pale in comparison to his grace and affections.  As you spend time with God today, ask him for perspective.  Allow the Spirit to help you focus your attention on the true purpose for which you were created – a restored relationship with your heavenly Father.  Choose the joy of the Lord over the stress and cares of the world. Choose to be led forth in peace rather than led by your flesh.  And experience the lifestyle of carrying the joy of the Lord with you everywhere you go – so you can reflect it to the world around you – so that others may come to know the abundant goodness of your heavenly Father through the way you exude joy.  Be a carrier of joy in all you do and say so that you may bring glory and honor to your Heavenly Father.           Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, September 1

I’ve Got Confidence

Hebrews 13:6

It hurts when someone betrays us – doesn’t it?  It’s bad when a friend we thought was there for us betray us or a co-worker we thought had our back. It’s doubly bad, when it is a member of our own family.  Our family is supposed to love us and watch out for us – right?  It is also bad when a brother or sister in Christ betrays our trust – by talking behind our back or villainizing us in some way.  It can be hard, even for Christians to know what to do or how to respond in these situations.  Our natural human response is revenge, to get back at them, to hurt them like they have hurt us, to make them pay.  The truth is, regardless of what others do to us, we get to choose our response.  We are the ones in charge of our emotions our feelings.  We can choose to let difficult people and situations destroy us and our self-esteem or we can choose to let those experiences make us better – better people – better Christians.  Each day we get to determine – we get to choose a positive response to whatever we might face.

Rather than seeking instant revenge when someone hurts us (accidentally or on purpose) or go into some kind of funk when we are going through a difficult time, we should not allow it to define us – to leave us bitter, angry and jaded.  Instead, we should choose to think about the goodness of God – we should think about our worth and value to God – we should allow God to be our helper when things are tough – because God is faithful and will see us through.

Jesus knew about betrayal.  His closest friends, the disciples – one betrayed him to those who wanted him dead – the others abandoned him at his darkest hours.  His family thought he was insane – many of his fellow Jews didn’t like his message and wanted him dead.  Rather than choosing revenge and hatred of his friends and family, Jesus chose to put his faith and trust in God – and God walked with him all the way to the cross and beyond.

The Apostle Paul also knew a about betrayal, disappointment, and tough times.  Read his story in the Book of Acts and his letters to the various churches contained in the New Testament.  In Hebrews 13:5b-6 Paul gives us some wise words.  In 5b he says, “I (meaning God) will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  He continues in verse 6 with, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (NLT).  Paul is telling us that the character of Jesus and the attributes of God are changeless – they are unalterable – immutable – indestructible and lasting and one by one scripture unveils the unchangeable nature of God.  Step-by-step in the book of Hebrews Paul demonstrates the difference between a life of trusting faith and one that lives in doubting unbelief.  When we come to the point where we simply choose to put our trust in God’s word and believe all God has said we can be confident no matter what we are going through – and not fear what people can or might say about us or do to us – because God is our helper – and he will walk beside us all the way.  

Our identity should never be rooted in what people think or say about us or do to us – our identity should be rooted in God.  In Psalm 34, David tells us we need to think about our identity foundation.  If our identity foundation is rooted in the wrong place, it will be extremely hard to glorify the Lord at all times. We are to build an identity foundation that gets its significance or glory not from our accomplishments, our popularity, our talents – not what others think or say about us – but from God himself.  When we do then the foundation of our self-worth will be secure and not subject to fear or shame or the whims of others.  We can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (NLT).  

Faith – trust in God and God’s promises and an identity that is rooted in God – that is how we can be confident.  Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” In everything we do – we should do our best. Remembering we are doing things not for people – but for God. So even if doing the right thing – making the right choice is hard – not seeking revenge when we’ve been hurt – not allowing loss and hurts to leave us angry and bitter – being kind and compassionate and loving to all – no matter how they may have treated us – it is always worth it in the long run.  Choose to do things enthusiastically for God.  Maybe we didn’t get our way, maybe we didn’t get chosen or promoted, maybe we didn’t make the team, maybe someone hurt our feelings, or we suffered a loss or some other disappointment.  Choose wisely how you respond – because everything we do is an act of worship to God. The Lord is our helper – have no fear.         Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, August 25

Live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ

Philippians 1:27

The news that comes across my devices each day is filled with all kinds of bad stuff – disease – war – hurricanes – flooding – drought – fires – shootings – crime waves – hatred – racism – and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes I feel as if the whole earth is sobbing and my own heart right along with it.  I, as I am sure most of you are sick to death of COVID; the destruction it has caused to jobs, families, to our sense of security and safety and to our communities.  The division it has created among any and all of us as we disagree; and the death of far too many, even some near and dear to us.  For it not only grieves us but we know that even 1 lost life breaks the very heart of our Creator.  

I grieve for the people of Haiti and the horrific losses they have suffered with the earthquake that hit there.  Grieved at more desperate suffering for a people who have time and gain lost so much.  And I am saddened and grieved by what is happening in Afghanistan.  While they fight for their very existence, for the right to walk on the street or go to school, we whine about having to manage germs.

I grieve at our country and our refusal to band together against the common enemies of disease and terrorism; instead, we choose, these days, the equivalent of eating our own young, as we rip each other apart across every available medium insisting on tribal blame games that only serve as a well-displayed Achilles heel.

I grieve that many of our teens and tweens are caught up in the seduction of Tik Tok algorithms and selfie likes – that there are more homicides in our neighborhoods, there are more hungry children and shattered neighborhoods, and homeless camps are popping up all across the land.

And even in the church – where we are supposed to be the unified body of Christ there is strife, tension and dissension.  There is a refusal to center on Jesus and band together against the evil one

For some time now, nothing feels certain. Nothing feels solid.  Nothing feels as if it would be okay to rest without fear.  Without the fear that at any moment where we are resting might split wide open and toss us into whatever heartache is next.  Everything feels off, at risk.  The full weight of the last 18 months or so is washing across us in waves as the uncertainty rages on and our own anxiety and anger with it. We’re so vulnerable, so riddled with fear.  We’re so broken and bereft of any sense of how we’ll ever get out of this cluster of time we’re living in.  But while all may seem gloom and doom it is not – because we are Christians – we are followers – we are disciples of Jesus Christ.  There may be many things about yesterday, today and tomorrow that we don’t understand or comprehend – but we know who held us yesterday – we know who holds us today – and we know who will hold us tomorrow – and that makes all the difference.  That is the HOPE that shines into our otherwise dark world.

Paul in Roman’s 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”  And in John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  And if Paul after all he had been through – after all he had endured could be hopeful and keep praying then so can we.  And if Jesus has overcome the world – then we his followers can do likewise.  All we have to do is follow our Lord and Savior – follow where he leads.

And where is Jesus leading us? Paul gives us a hint in Philippians 1:27, “Live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.”  What Paul is telling us is that because we are followers of Christ – disciples of Christ we are to live our lives out in the world in such a way that we are a credit to the Message Jesus brought to the world.  We are to reflect Jesus’ light – we are to demonstrate Jesus’ love in all situations and circumstances.  We are to stand fast. True disciples stand fast, unashamed in any company.  We are to be unified – because we are bound together in one spirit.  The world will quarrel – but we Christ’s followers must be united.  That doesn’t mean we will always agree or always want or like the same things – but we will focus most on what we have in common – Jesus and work from there.  Jesus expects a certain unconquerability from his followers.  Christmas must never abandon hope or give up the struggle.  Jesus expects us to have a cool, calm courage.  In times of crisis, others may be nervous and afraid – but followers of Jesus will still be serene, in control of themselves and of the situation.  And Jesus knew none of this would be easy.  But he never promised his followers – those who choose to be disciples that it would be easy – just rewarding.

So, as we became followers – as we become disciples Jesus challenges us to be better.  In the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ challenge to us to live better.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us to - Be pure in heart… be merciful … be peacemakers … hunger and thirst for righteousness. Later, he challenges us to extend the law beyond outward acts.  He challenges us to apply it inwardly - “Even if you think it in your heart,” he said. What a challenge! (Matthew 5:28).  Over and over in Scripture, Jesus challenges us.  He tells us, “Go the second mile.”  “Turn the other cheek.”  “Love your enemies.”  “Pray for those that hurt you.”  And the ultimate challenge, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect!”  (Matthew 5:41; 5:39; 5:44; 5:48) Those are some pretty tall orders aren’t they.  Doesn’t Jesus know how hard it is to be places you don’t want to be, with people you don’t want to be with, in a world that seems to have lost its collective mind and focus, surrounded by violence and war and disease and destruction and hate?  Doesn’t Jesus understand how the world is today?  

Jesus does understand – he went all the way to the cross and beyond to show us he knew and to show us how much God truly loves and cares about us.  But Jesus also wanted us to know that being his disciple – being his follower comes with expectations and requirements.  It’s ok to grieve, to be sad, to cry/sob because of all that is happening in and around us.  But we do it as those who have HOPE.  Because we do know who held us yesterday – we know who holds us today – and we know who will hold us tomorrow.  I invite you, as a disciple of Jesus to live differently.  Let us live with hope – let us share that hope and the light of Christ with all we encounter – Let us “live in such a way that we are a credit to the Message of Christ.”  

            Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, August 18

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:35 

 

I want to start by telling you how really blessed I feel to be your pastor and to thank you for your patience and all the kindnesses you’ve shown me.                                              

Several folks have been asking if I am settled in yet.  My answer has generally been something like, “I think I’m getting there.”  But I began thinking about that last weekend.  I thought about it and wondered just what it meant to be settled.  People settle into houses, communities and such and dirt settles into holes.  Now I realize this isn’t the most profound statement you’ve ever heard, but it got me thinking even more about the word settled and just what it means, especially in the life of a pastor, in the life of a disciple and in the life of a faith community.                                               

I googled the word settled and the definitions I found both shocked and made me want to never be settled.  I discovered this innocent looking word means things like, “bring to rest,” “to place so as to stay,” “to cause to pack down,” “to sink gradually to the bottom,” “to become fixed and to be content.”                                             

Whoa - this might be fine if we’re talking about houses or the things inside houses, dirt or fish or getting ready to go to sleep.  But in conjunction with our faith - I decided that settled would just never do.  Settled is never a word I want used to describe; me as a pastor, my faith; or my faith community.  But settled is exactly what happens to many Christians, many disciples and many churches as well as pastors. Then I wondered, “how long does it take for a faith community or a disciple or a pastor to become settled?”  How can we prevent it from happening or unsettle it if it has already happened.                                              

Scripture tells us it wasn’t easy for the first followers of Jesus, and it didn’t get much easier for several more centuries.  Early Christians were disowned, stripped of all they had, ostracized and even killed because of their faith and beliefs.  They were far from settled.  The Apostles traveled great distances spreading the Good News to all who would hear it.  Then somewhere down the centuries we began to build churches and we took our worship inside, then we got structure and order and we lived in a country where Christianity was the predominant religion.  Perhaps time and comfortableness are what caused us to become settledin our faith.  

Do we rejoice each time we partake in Holy Communion, or do we just do it?  Do we feel humbled and awed as we come into the presence of Christ and partake of his body and drink from his cleansing blood?  Do we feel extremely special to be at the banquet table with Christ our Savior?  Do we feel the hymns or songs we sing, or do we just try to get through them?  Do we feel Christ’s presence with us during our worship time?  Do we still marvel at creation and the wonder of life?  Do we daily seek guidance, offer prayer and thanksgiving?  Do we yearn each day be closer to Jesus than yesterday?  Are we still excited about our faith?  

Do you remember when you first found out that Jesus loved you?  Were you excited?  Do you still feel that same excitement today?  Do you share the Good News with others, or do you keep it to yourself?  Do you know how many of your neighbors don’t have a faith family (church)?  Did you know we have men, women and children right here in our own community that don’t know Jesus loves them?  Have we as a church, as Christians, become settled?  Are we doing what Jesus commissioned us to do?  

In my devotional time, I have been working my way through the Gospel of Matthew, and it occurred to me as I was contemplating settled, there was nothing about Jesus or his ministry we could say was settled.  

When people know we are Christians, they picture Christ according to us.  In other words, we re-present Christ.  What does it mean to be a maturing, growing follower of Christ?  What does it mean to be a member of Calvary UMC?  How do we fit into the body of Christ?  Are we keeping the body moving and growing or are we weighing it down, holding it back?  In the Great Commission Jesus told us to go out and make disciples of all, not go into our churches and be settled.  Elton Trueblood said, “If the average church should suddenly take seriously the notion that every member – man, woman and child – is really a minister of Christ, we could have something like a revolution in a very short time.”  Revolution VS settled, imagine that.

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, August 11

“Do not conform to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

            Romans 12:2

 

May be an image of cat and indoorPhotos I take with my phone get backed up to my google cloud and my google cloud pretty regularly sends me memories – which are pictures that were backed up 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.  It always great to see those photos and remember the experience – day – activity.  Recently, one of the memory pictures was from a year ago, shortly after the kittens came to live with us.  In this picture Lighting (the big guy) is sitting on the kitty tower looking out the window, as is something he has always done.  Above him and below him are the storm and thunder (the kittens) doing exactly the same thing Lightning is doing.  

As I read Romans 12:2 in my devotions that day, that picture came to mind as well and it made me think about how often we, as children of God copy or imitate societies ways, other people’s ways, instead of God’s way.  In this climate and time of COVID, political unrest and constant change and unknown society as a whole has become quick to judge, quick to question, quick to complain, quick to hate.  When things have not gone their way they have lashed out, sometimes in very inappropriate ways – they seem to think when others disagree with them that means they hate them – that there is no way we can possibly be friends if we disagree about some things.  I also thought about the things we choose to watch on tv, the music we choose to listen to, the things we choose to read – are they causing us to imitate societies ways or God’s way.   

In this verse from Romans, Paul is encouraging us to imitate God’s love – that means looking on others with the kind of love God shows to each of us.  Paul wants us not to think and act out of habits and judgments we have learned from the world around us – but rather from what we have learned and experienced through Jesus. 

How do we learn and experience the love of Jesus?  First by reading the Word – here we will find how Jesus interacted with the world and people around him – we will learn how great God’s love for us is, in that he sacrificed his one and only Son that we might be in a right and loving relationship with us.  We learn how Jesus expects his maturing, growing disciples to interact with and love others.    

Maybe we should heed Paul’s advice and follow Jesus’ example of life filled with sacrificial love, that we ourselves can fall deeper in love with God and others and we can help others begin to love God and others.  May we always choose to imitate Jesus in our attitudes and actions and allow God to transform our attitudes so we can grow and act in ways that match God’s will for us that our lives can be transformed and we can introduce others to the Jesus we know.

Pastor Mindy



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