Pastor’s Corner October 2021
Folks we made it into fall, we are attempting to recover, rediscover our “normal” routine … whatever that was, and it’s football season once again! I want to take this opportunity to talk about “loyalty”.
“24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other.” - Matthew 6:24a Common English Bible
You probably understand very well the stress that comes along with divided loyalties. The Christian work ethic drives us to be successful (in the “worlds” eyes). The world, however, often makes demands and presents a false image of what it takes to be successful, demanding your loyalty … at the end of the day we are exhausted, confused and quite possibly conflicted over success and our devotion to God.
We are continually flooded with world images: movies that ridicule God; or couples that play musical beds, while seeking a meaningful relationship; or success that means 24/7 dedication to your work first.
After all it’s Sunday morning and the office will be quiet (and you think; now I can get some work done) or the golf course won’t be crowded and I can get in 9 holes before I need to get back to work. What do you do when your heart and loyalties are pulled in two directions? Jesus understood the struggle we face; that’s why he spoke out against trying to serve “two masters,” we end up serving one and having contempt for the other!
I do enjoy competition (especially in football and basketball) however when it is all said and done and the question is asked where do your loyalties lie … serving God or having contempt for God … the choice is stark and clear … “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:15b
Pastor’s Corner September 2021
Seasons – by Beth A. Richardson
As the seasons change,
We turn to you, God of Creation,
Our source, our wisdom, our comfort.
Be our anchor in the midst of turmoil.
Our healing spirit in times of brokenness.
Our blessing in the emptiness.
We are yours. Amen.
Grace and Peace to you,
September, a time of change, a time of new beginnings. Although some things that we had hoped would change … still stubbornly still cling to us; Covid, War, political division or the challenge and expense of everyday life to name just a few.
Far too often, we find ourselves caught between: the frustration of what often appears that nothing is ever going to change on the one hand and the things that are changing too fast on the other …There is that part of us, that longs for stability, that rock we can cling to, the promise we can stand on.
We don’t have to look very far … even if Goggle may not know the answer, but your soul knows … there in your innermost being the change we seek comes from only one source … the gracious love of God, the redemption of Christ and the leading of the Spirit!
The following are but a few of the writings of Scripture that tell us in whom to for Gods love for us never ever changes;
“8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Hebrews 13:8 NRSV
“6 For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.” - Malachi 3:6 NRSV
"8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever." - Isaiah 40:8 NRSV
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter says, “tell me to come to you on the water.” - Matthew 14:28 Have you found yourself saying the same thing (or something similar) to God? Peter is not “testing” Jesus; he’s pleading with Jesus. Stepping out onto a storm tossed sea is not a move of logic, in fact it is a move of desperation … We do the same thing don’t we? We come to Christ in our time of deep need … when we have tried all the logical avenues available to us … when we realize … that human strength won’t save us. That’s when we turn to God, in our time of weakness and desperation.
I have overhead prayers along the lines of; God, it me (name) I know that I haven’t talked to you in a long time ... but I need your help, now. Its ok, God is there for you in those times of desperation … in our time of need. Just try to remember that God is also there during your times of celebration and abundant joy! God wants to talk to you then also.
God is there in our time of need and in our time of joy … this is the one constant in life! This is the solid rock on which I stand;
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. - Matthew 7:24-25
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!
… Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner July 2021
Grace and Peace to each of you,
If you’re like me you’re in a hurry to put COVID in the rear view and get things back to normal, at least what we think or hope is normal. Psalm 46:10 tells us to; “be still and know that I am God.” Not sometime in the future, not sometime in the past, but in the here and now, the present!
I often struggle with “living in the present”, it’s not always an easy place to be … so much that needs to be done, social and political division, even the wider church seems intent on breaking itself apart, financial issues, medical issues, just so much! Sometimes the present seems to be filled with uncertainty and even pain.
Uncertainty and worry about: employment, medical results or painful medical treatments, or watching and walking with a loved one who is declining mentally or physically. The present seems painful; the future appears dim, so often filled with more of the same! Have we lost sight of Hope?
Many of us have rushed from the present with an attitude of let’s just get it over with! But we tend to look back with regret or longing for how it was … will it ever be again?
Folks, Jesus calls us to live in today (Romans 12:2) – breath in … breath out … eating todays bread (Acts 2:42-46), to reach out and touch the hand and heart of the one near to us! We are to be open to God’s spirit moving in us as we become Christ’s presence in this world! Surely this is Hope for today! Hope for tomorrow!
Romans 12:2 Easy-to-Read Version
“2 Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”
From ‘The Alphabet of Grace”, Frederick Buechner wrote; “Darkness was upon the face of the deep, and God said, “Let there be light.” Darkness laps at my sleeping face like a tide, and God says, “Let there be Buechner.” Why Not? Out of the primeval chaos of sleep he calls me to be a life again …
… He calls me to be this rather than that, he calls me to be here rather than there; he calls me to be now rather than then … Waking into the new day, we are all of us Adam on the morning of creation, and the world is ours to name. Out of many fragments we are called to put back together a self again.’
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner June 2021
Grace and Peace to each of you,
While pondering what our church will be or look like in the post COVID reality I came across the following Scripture from the book of James:
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. – James 4:7-10 the Message translation.
I love the idea of shouting “No” to the devil and watching him run off! The “get serious” comments make me think about the “how I like my coffee” question, it’s one of my favorite scenes from the movie “War Room” (A Prayer Closet) The “lukewarm coffee” moment takes place between Miss Clara and Elizabeth. As Miss Clara serves Elizabeth “lukewarm coffee” she cites Revelation 3:15-16 King James Version “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” In other words, it’s time to get serious about this thing we call a prayer life!
Revelation 3:15-17 from The Message translation for reference.
15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
Many of us have tried to spend some time in prayer or Scriptural study; many a New Year’s or Lenten resolution has been given up after a short time. Some of us have tried to just have a daily quiet time and have not been successful at that either … So rather than spend time with God, listening for the still small voice, we’ll let others spend time with God and then benefit from their experience … or so that’s our reasoning.
After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers? … to spend time with God. If that’s your approach … I’d like to challenge you with this thought; have you done that with other parts of your life? … There are certain things no one can do for you … and one of those is spending time with God! The point is you don’t have to “do” anything … you just have to “be yourself” while “being” with God!
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner May 2021
35-38 Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” - Matthew 9:36-38 The Message
Why did Jesus die on the cross? Oh I know, I know. I have heard the official theological answers, such as: to gratify the Old Testament law for sacrifice or to fulfill the prophecy. … But there is something more here don’t you think? … Something personal for Jesus and for each of us. What is it? … Could it be that his heart was broken from the hurting? … I can imagine him, bending close to those who are hurt. I can imagine him listening … He who was once alone, also understands.
As I write this; we still have the COVID-19 pandemic causing pain and suffering … forcing change … but there is hope! As Fowlerville First leadership and I look at the calendar, we hear the comments (even if the comments are our own) so many plans have been changed or been canceled … why do we bother? There is hope!
Consider this, by making plans we are proclaiming that hope! We are stating that we trust in God and that we trust in each other! If change is required (when it’s time) then so be it … we can adjust, however without hope … we lose sight of the love that is offered to us!
There are plans for a Yard Sale, Heartstrings graduation (complete with the gift of a Bible), Fowlerville “Fun in the ville” (a bake sale for “missions”) and possibly the follow-up yard sale. We also continue our support of the family impact center and Mission House (who report that things are slowly returning to normal).
I will also share that registration for the fall at our Heartstrings preschool is currently underway.
As I write this; there is debate (and fear) over issues of race and policing. Once more I would say: “When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” The word here is “compassion” from and for all sides of the debate, when we lose sight of Jesus, when we lose sight of hope … “So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” God can, and will make the difference; we cannot lose sight of hope!
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner February 2021
February, winter in Michigan! February, Valentine’s Day, a time that we as a society celebrate “Romantic love”! Children, pass cards to friends and classmates saying; won’t you be mine, while looking forward to candy!
The Scriptures have within them so many expressions of Love. John 13:34, Romans 5:8 and the Song of Solomon are but examples. Young love, true love, being in love, love makes the world go round … money can’t buy love. As a society we have a “love” saying for just about every occasion. Yet so very often, we find it difficult or impossible to say “I love you”.
So why is it that so often we don’t trust in love … why don’t we hear, I mean really hear the words “I love you”? Is it because we have experienced heart break and hurt, that we keep our heart hidden away, closed off?
Why is it that we doubt … the love that is graciously lavished on us?
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Living Bible
My friends, our faith demands our love of God and our love of neighbor. The world will tempt you to surrender your time and attention to deny true love … we so easily get so caught up in the pace of life that we forget to say “I Love You” to the one that matters!
Pastor’s Corner December 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
Oh, and “Merry Christmas”! Advent and then Christmas, we wait in anticipation for Jesus to arrive.
“16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life”. (John 3:16) The Gift for all the world! (Wow, one size does fit all.) This had me thinking about gift giving and receiving.
Do you want (blank) in your life?
Do you want “hope” in your life?
The Prophet Isaiah expresses hope for a Messiah to save us from the sin in the world; 6 A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7
During Advent we anticipate our Savior’s arrival. This hope doesn’t disappoint us;
5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
Do you want “peace” in your life?
The peace of God enables us to help guide the world to see (or know) God’s kingdom breaking into our reality! God grants an inner peace. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we have a chance to receive salvation, for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly within us. This grants us an inner peace
27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27) When Christ returns, there will also be healing for the nations, this broken world will be healed.
We will also put aside our differences, we will have peace with others; 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) because we are one in Christ, we are ALL part of the family of God.
How about love, do you want “love” in your life?
When it’s all said and done “love” is the Christmas story! I’ve heard it pointed out that because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant before they were married. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19) we also see God’s love as expressed in John 3:16.
Love is the greatest of all gift’s; 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 Love is the reason … 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Do you want “joy” in your life?
Life is a celebration and a gift; 4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5) Our Joy comes from the Lord! “Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.” (246 UMH)
No matter what “it” is that you want in your life, Jesus is the answer, he truly is the gift that keeps on giving! Do you want change in your life, accept the gift God has given you!
*all Scripture references are from the Common English Bible
Pastor’s Corner November 2020
Happy Thanksgiving! Grace and Peace to you, hard to believe that it is November!
It occurred to me that each Sunday, I have been giving an invitation to support the “ministry at Fowlerville First” and there may be some who do not know about the various “ministries” here at Fowlerville. So with the idea of invitation and being a thankful, joyful giver, let’s start with Scripture;
2 Corinthians 9:7 Common English Bible
“7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.”
And with it being November and Thanksgiving, let us remember to be thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Common English Bible
16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
The first item to address is the word “Ministry”. My definition for Ministry is; any actions done in the name of God. This should include the way we live our lives, but is often thought of as; our giving (tithing). Friends, it’s more than money!
Please keep that in mind as I highlight some of the ministries here at Fowlerville First; Sunday Worship and the Sacraments (Communion, Baptism), Sharing the Good News of the Gospel, Weddings and Funerals, Bible and book studies, HeartStrings Learning Center preschool, Space for Alcoholics Anonymous to meet, and dinners. There is volunteer and financial support for; Family Impact Center, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief, a nongovernmental organization operating around the world), ECHO, Heifer international, OMF, Crop Walk, Love INC, Samaritan’s Purse.
Our General fund giving provides for clergy support, staff salaries, building up keep and improvements. We also tithe to the global United Methodist Church in what is now called Ministry Shares (used to be called apportionments) and if you’re curious about where the Ministry Shares money is spent, contact me and I will get you the information. (Folks, between you and me this is an area we as a local church could do better, we have not paid our full share in a number of years.)
Friends our giving is used/blessed by God in so many wonderful ways!
Thinking about how God takes our “little” and does so many amazing things with it, I can’t help but smile!
I think I’ll close with two John Wesley Quotes:
“Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it. One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them for His sake- not choosing nor refusing, liking or disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.”
― John Wesley, How To Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer
“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”
― John Wesley
Pastor’s Corner October 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
We continue to adjust to what is being called a “new normal”. For the church the new normal is about as far from the old normal as east is from west. However I don’t want to dwell on the problems of change, the point is, is that we have changed and did what we needed to and we continue to look for ways to glorify and honor God, serve others and reach out in Christian love! For many of us this might be enough after all, change is hard!
I was on my way through town when I saw a small placard with the words “Thankful Heart” that had me thinking about what it meant to have a thankful heart.
A thankful heart finds many blessings!
A thankful heart experience’s many blessings!
A thankful heart knows many blessings!
Keep this idea of a thankful heart in mind as we add in some Scripture from the Apostle Paul. First let us visit the idea expressed in Romans 8:28 (Common English Bible); “28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This is one facet of faith that we often rephrase as; “somehow, someway God brings about good for us.”
The next point is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (CEB); “16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is where the grateful, joyful heart comes in;
A grateful heart; finds, experiences and knows many blessings! Do you believe it? Do you live your life like you believe it? Do we count our problems … or do we count our blessings?
Please don’t get me wrong the pandemic and social justice issues have caused pain, suffering and mourning loss … seemingly combing to have brought out the worst in us … but, returning to the wisdom of Romans, God’s got this, we can and will get through this together by the grace of God.
Thinking about the Thessalonian instruction for a grateful heart, some “COVID-19” blessings that come to mind for me are; time with family, time in study, time for reflection and reordering of priorities. The use of technology; being able to “live stream” worship and to attend class without leaving home, and still reaching people far from our beloved church building. I have witnessed the outpouring of love and support in hand written cards, phone calls and generous gifts!
Far from feeling sorry for myself, at times I feel an embarrassment of riches!
So let me ask again … Do we count our problems … or do we count blessings?
A grateful heart; finds, experiences and knows many blessings!
Do you believe it? Do you live your life like you believe it?
May it be so …
Pastor’s Corner August 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
Dog days of summer, seems like hot and humid weather has me thinking about family vacations and time away. How about you?
30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31 The Message Bible)
Jesus and the apostles knew the value of time away, rest … however they also knew the value of being together in community. Today, we call this Christian gathering “the church”.
One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is a high level of uncertainty, frustrated plans and disappointment. I think that most people are asking for answers. I have been there myself, when our gathering space was closed (for our safety, and the safety of others) we wondered how we would be able to continue being the church?
We are not alone in this; “seeking” in my observation is that almost everyone is seeking answers, whether they know it or not, the true answer is found in the Lord!
7 “Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. Matthew 7:7-8 (The Living Bible)
Praise the Lord that family, friends and neighbors ARE seeking … my question for “us” is what will they find at Fowlerville First? (kind of makes you go huh and hmm)
What a blessing to be able to show and tell the seekers, we are a gathering of the faithful (the church) led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News, to share our talents, and resources with each other AND with the local community and beyond!
Certainly the pandemic has caused us to pause, and consider, what and how we are to “do church”, thankfully God hears our prayers and often answers them in unexpected ways. As the church, the Holy Spirit has provided talents, gifts and resources; the Spirit equips us and provides opportunities for us to flourish!
(During your time of rest, ask yourself how do “I” fit in Lord?)