Archive for Pastor’s Corner
Moses. The name conjures up thoughts of a great leader that obeyed God, defied pharaoh, and led the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land. When we think of Moses, we remember all he accomplished, but do we ever give thought to how God prepared him to do what he did?
Moses’ preparation began at birth. God spared him by placing him into the house of pharaoh. His own mother was appointed to raise him. Being raised in the house of pharaoh, he became very educated in politics, leadership, strategy, etc. On the other hand he never lost touch with who he was, a Hebrew. I’m quite sure his mother instilled his godly heritage into him.This was forty years of preparation and training.
Upon fleeing Egypt, after killing the Egyptian, he spent the next forty years in the desert wilderness as a shepherd. Once again, more preparation. At eighty years of age, God told him to bring his people out of Egypt. He did just that, and spent forty more years “shepherding” Israel in the wilderness.
Eighty years of Moses’ life was preparation for what God would call him to do. All that are in Christ have a ministry we are called to. Do we take the time to stop and reflect on how God has prepared us for that calling and that ministry? Do we stop to ask God what ministry He is preparing us for? The first eighty years of Moses’ life was preparation to do what God would call Him to do. He had leadership skills, political skills, wilderness skills, but most importantly, he had “following” skills. Moses’ task was not easy, nor is most ministry, but He followed and trusted in God.
As you seek to follow Christ and fulfill the area of ministry He has called you to, recognize how He has prepared you or how you are being prepared and step out in faith into that ministry.
Grace and peace!
We should ask ourselves two questions each time we attend worship. 1) What is my purpose for being here? 2) Am I here to get something from or give something to God?
Many complain that they “don’t feel anything” at church. Others complain that the Word just didn’t reach them, while some can’t remember the topic of the sermon minutes after worship has ended. Is it possible that God sometimes ignores our worship? Is it possible that sometimes we just go through the motions and rituals we’ve become so accustomed to that we’ve forgotten why we gather?
Sometimes our lives are so busy that we don’t make time for God, yet expect Him to show up in the convenient, small time we make for Him. We expect to be filled spiritually on Sunday, yet our minds and hearts are focused on what we have planned after church or what we need to do at work on Monday. Worship is for God and contrary to what some might believe, it is not for us. Our purpose in gathering together for worship has to be to praise Him and seek Him wholeheartedly. If we don’t, we are walking down the same paths as the Israelites did so many times. They made the appropriate sacrifices, observed the feasts, completed all the prescribed rituals, yet their hearts were nowhere near God and He ignored them.
It is when we give to and do for others that we receive the greatest blessings. It is when we give and do for God in worship, with right hearts, that we usher in His presence and receive blessing. You can’t worship God and truly be in His presence without being changed, therefore being blessed.
Let us set our hearts to worship God daily and corporately on Sunday just as David did in Psalm 138.
Grace and Peace!
Philemon…a book of the Bible that most overlook and even fewer have bothered to study. It’s not really a book, just a letter. Paul wrote this personal letter to Philemon concerning a private matter, yet Paul understood the implications on the future of the church at Philemon’s house, on Onesimus’s life, as well as the lives of those to be reached at some point by the church in Colosse.
Onesimus was Philemon’s slave and apparently ran away. Not only did he run away, but he apparently stole from him. In that culture, this carried an almost certain sentence of death and at best, a brutal beating followed by lifelong humiliation. Onesimus was fortunate enough to stumble upon Paul, who himself was in chains, and led him to Christ.
Paul understood the need for repentance on Onesimus’ behalf as well as the need for Philemon to extend grace and forgiveness to Onesimus and receive him back, not as his slave, but as his brother in Christ, forgiving him of all trespasses and loving him as his brother.
You see, the Gospel message is about forgiveness and the grace extended to us by God. It is about the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. The Gospel message is about the love, grace, and forgiveness of God extended to us and we are to extend it to others as well. When we withhold forgiveness and grace to others, the message of the Gospel that we proclaim has no meaning.
Paul compelled Philemon by the love of Christ to forgive, just as he had been forgiven, and set a shining example for the world to see. Is there someone you haven’t extended forgiveness and grace to? Do it today. It’s not and option. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also give you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Recognize the love, grace and mercy and forgiveness extended to you each day be God and live by His example. Grace and Peace!
Talking with God is the most important conversation that you will have today and tomorrow. When the disciples came to Jesus and asked him how to pray, Jesus gave them a very simple way of prayer. We call that the Lord’s Prayer. To show how simple it is consider these facts. The Lord’s Prayer consists of 66 words. The Gettysburg Address is made up of 286 words. The Declaration of Independence is comprised of 1,322 words. However, federal regulations governing the sale of a head of cabbage total 26,911 words. Yes I said 26,911 words as a guide line to sell ONE head of cabbage! These statistics suggest a fascinating principle: The wiser, grander, and more profound the idea to be expressed, the fewer words are needed to express it.
Jesus made it simple for us to pray! I believe that God wants to talk with us every day and is waiting to hear from us. Jesus gave us a great example of how to pray with just 66 words and if you timed yourself praying the Lord’s Prayer it would take about 3 minutes. We spend more time looking in the refrigerator trying to find a snack. Send some time listening and talking with God. God cares for you and loves you.
Peace & Joy;
On Sunday, May 20th, 2012, Lauderdale United Methodist Church (LUMC) will be hosting a Public Servant Appreciation Service to show their respect and thanks for the work done in our communities by public servants who put their lives on the line every day. The special service will begin at 11:00am in the main sanctuary of the church located at 3632 Lauderdale Road in Lauderdale, Mississippi. Pastor Gary Howse and all the LUMC congregation want to invite all active police force members, EMT’s, Volunteer Fire Department Personnel, Ambulance drivers, Sheriff Departments, and service related men and women to come and let us show them our appreciation for the job they do.
A section of steel from the World Trade Center which was destroyed on 9-11-2001 will be on display at the church. The exhibit was donated to the Alabama Chapter of the Terry Farrell Fund by the National Chapter of the Terry Farrell Fund and is currently on tour Alabama before being officially dedicated in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at a special service on June 2, 2012. The Lauderdale UMC event will be a rare opportunity for the people of East Mississippi to see the exhibit before it reaches its final destination. Terry Farrell was one of the firefighters lost trying to save others on 9-11.
Cuba Alabama’s Fire Chief and Lauderdale UMC Choir Director, Reid Vaughn worked to have this display brought to LUMC for this Public Servant Appreciation Service. If you are a volunteer, we would like for you to join us for this tribute.
Lauderdale UMC will provide lunch after Sunday’s service and request those who plan to attend the special service on May 20th contact 601-679-8806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP so enough food can be prepared.
The days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will raise for David a righteous Branch…. Jeremiah 23:5
Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose (Mary) to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:19-20
Have you ever thought that you had a good plan and even made sense to you, but God had another plan for you? Have you ever heard the voice of an angel? Maybe not, but have you ever changed your mind because you knew God wanted you do to something else? when we open our hearts to God’s Word, we find ourselves making the choices based on what we think God would like rather then what we like. Becoming the person that would be pleasing to God is part of the Advent journey. So as we move full stream ahead toward Christmas, take time to listen to God, maybe even an angel will appear!
Peace & Joy,
Dear Lauderdale United Methodist Church Family & Friends,
A cartoon from a few years ago showed a woman saying to her husband, “Good grief, Henry. Here’s Christmas at our throats again!”
Amid the preparations for Christmas each year, there always seem to be a few voices like hers, proclaiming a “Bah, humbug!” on the whole business. And if the truth be known, some of us may feel less than excited about Christmas ourselves. The expense, the crowds, the overindulgence, the hurried schedules and all the other trappings of modern Christmas celebrations are enough to make all of us to have a Scrooge look at the season.
In the face of the humbug state of affairs, it is helpful to remember that God did not send Jesus to be “at our throats,” but to be “in our hearts.” The difference between those two concepts defines the gap between gloom and glory. There’s a reason we call the gospel good news. As John so aptly put it, “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (3:17).
Jesus is God’s gift to our world — and to our hearts. When Jesus resides within, whether we enjoy or merely tolerate the flurry of seasonal preparations, Christmas itself is a grand opportunity to say thank you to God for the gift of the Son.
My Prayer for you is that you and your family have a Blessed Christmas and remember to let Christ be the center of your life.
In God’s peace & Merry Christmas,
This time of the year we are all standing in line and hurrying to find that perfect gift for others and at times for ourselves. I think it is amazing that a young woman and her family have answered God’s call to bring this message to us. The following is Becky Kelly’s story behind the song:
“While at the mall a couple of years ago, my then four year old nephew, Spencer, saw kids lined up to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, he asked his mom, “where’s the line to see Jesus”?
My sister mentioned this to my dad, who immediately became inspired and jotted words down to a song in just a few minutes. After putting music to the words, and doing a quick recording at home, he received a great response from friends. He sent the song off to Nashville without much response, except for a Christian song writer who suggested adding a bridge at the end of the first chorus. My dad then asked if I wanted to record the song to see what we could do with it. I listened to the song, made a few changes to the words to make it flow better, and we headed to Shock City Studios.
It was at the studio where Chris, owner and producer, rewrote the 2nd verse and part of the chorus… with goose bumps and emotions high, we were all hopeful and felt like we had something special. The demo was recorded in just under 2 hours and sent off again to Nashville… still no response.
Then 2 weeks before Christmas last year, my cousins Greg and Robbie decided to do a video to see what we could accomplish on YouTube. The first day we had 3000 hits and it soared from there. We received e-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages from people all over asking for the music, CD’s, iTunes, anything… we had nothing. After a couple of meetings with Chris following the amazing response, we got serious. We headed back into the studio this past spring… this time with guitars, drums, bass, pianos, choirs… the real deal…. and here we are today.
Getting iTunes set up, a website put together, and loving that thousands upon thousands of Christians have come together… remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults cannot understand. Hopefully Spencer’s observation will cause people all over to reflect on the love of Jesus, and that one day we will all stand in line to see Him. We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father to have this chance to share our music with you. Merry Christmas everyone.”
I don’t believe I could have said it better! We should all slow down and remember that we already have the greatest Gift. “…for today in the city if David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The greatest gift if indeed ours… We don’t have to rush out and buy it nor do we have to stand in line. We simply need to slow down and remember what has been done for us.
“Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
One of the best known lines from one of the most sung Christmas Carols. The words of this carol were put to paper by Charles Wesley and published by the same around 1739. While the original wording was altered somewhat by George Whitfield, a friend of Wesley, the text has remained nearly unchanged. In 1753 Whitfield changed the opening line to what we know today from the original, “Hark, how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of kings.” The only significant change in the hymn would be the music. Wesley originally had the hymn set to a more somber tune. In 1840, Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata that celebrated Johan Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. The second movement of the cantata was adapted by William H. Cummings, in 1856, for the singing of the hymn. The present harmonization used with this hymn is a stark contrast to the original tune that the hymn was set for.
I find it hard to select a favorite Christmas song. Indeed, I love them all! However, this song ranks in the top ten of all of them. I can only imagine the hillside and the shepherds who were surprised by the pronouncement of the arrival of the Messiah. God found these people at work, on a cold night to bring them the news that would transform their lives. I find that fitting and such a poignant example of how we should be. Christmas is most certainly a time for us to be reminded of the coming of the Christ. It is a time that we should take a step back from work and other things and dwell on what is important. As Wesley so succinctly paraphrased Luke 2:8-14, “…born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.” Let’s thank God today for the GIFT!