Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly approaching and that’s the time that most of us feel the need to help the hungry. Regarding giving to the Come To Me food pantry; The question is: money or food? My answer – both.
We receive a lot of food in the fall but money helps fill the gaps during the rest of the year. Money allows us to purchase protein (meat) when we find it on sale and also fill in the gaps of nutritional needs we might have.
We sometimes have a few families with dietary concerns: gluten free, diabetic etc.
The extra money allows us to go out and purchase the necessary items to help them out.
For some people, giving money is just easier. Putting money in the collection plate, or sending it to the church helps those people be involved as well.
In the winter months, we don’t need extra food and have limited space to put it. That’s where the money in an account helps us continue with our mission.
When you donate food, it helps us from having to grocery shop and purchase it all.
Direct donations allow volunteers to spend time sorting and shelving the food.
Direct donations means more variety. We are an unusual pantry in that we put food together in a bag with an easy recipe so our clients can make the meal at home and have all the ingredients they need. Unusual foods that are collected help us make different kinds of meals for our clients.
Donating food helps us all feel involved and connected. There’s nothing better than having a huge food drive and know you were a part of it. Kids get involved and help collect things they would like to eat and they can’t wait to have their bags of food weighed on the scale.
Hamilton County has its share of people that are living pay check to paycheck and sometimes there just isn’t enough money to make it. Won’t you please help out this year and consider a donation to the Come To Me Food Pantry.
In the past few weeks I have had a few parents come talk to me. They are all in different situations of life and talked to me about their children who are anywhere from high school age to married with kids. But they all had this in common:
Their kids don't know Jesus
For some it was even more than that, they hated the church, hated God, whatever it may be. And many of these parents wanted to know what our youth ministry is currently doing to reach students and/or what we could have done (and still can do) to help their children know Jesus.
The reality, the best thing anyone at any age can have to help them know Jesus is people in their lives who love them and love Jesus. That's it. Nothing I can do will ever trump that. If these children who are far from God had adults in their lives (or even in their lives now) who they know care for them and these adults reflect Jesus in all they do, that is the best thing we can offer them to help them know Jesus better.
So what can you do?
If you have or know of a grade 7-12 student, get them to FIRE & WATER. We have adults who love students. Our Sunday School teachers love them. Our small group discussion leaders love them. Adults on trips and retreats love them. Liz and I love them. I had a student the other night who was going to text me late at night (their mom stopped them). When asked why they would text me so late they simply said, "He's still up." They were right, I don't sleep much, but they also knew I would be willing to hear from them. I'm not saying have everyone text me in the middle of the night, but think about your children. It's that age old question, do you/they know someone they can call at 3am if they need to?
The other thing you can do is get involved. You're not perfect? Great, neither am I. Students don't need perfection, they need to know they are cared for. They need to see Jesus in the lives of imperfect people. We are always looking for more adults who are willing to get to know students. A great way to get started is Sunday nights, it's an easy in. We are looking for adults who are willing to serve food (that will instantly get students to love you) and lead a small group discussion at the end of the night where all the questions are provided. You can sign up for a night at http://signup.com/go/ZLeXhas. Or, you can simply talk to Liz or I, we will do all we can to find a place for you.
Nothing beats a Jesus-loving, caring adult. Nothing.
By the time you read this you have almost certainly heard that change is afoot at Fishers United Methodist Church! Our Church Vision process has identified several significant changes we will begin to implement in September – including a new church Mission Statement: To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world. This new mission statement will guide us in making changes in the areas of Worship and Discipleship Pathways. Other phases of our Vision team process will come in the ensuing months as we seek to be effective in our mission to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World. If you want to know more, you can find information HERE.
Vision – it’s such a lofty word; but it has become almost trite in trendy conversation in the business world of the last 25 years. Does Vision really matter or is it just a buzz-word? Look at a page from history and you tell me…..
About 425 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they cut into the wilderness and established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway? - - Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in a few short years they were not able to see even five miles out of town!
Does it happen today? – can it happen to us in our lives? – to us as Fishers United Methodist Church? If we don’t keep our eyes clearly focused on who Christ calls us to be, we risk focusing on what we have accomplished; where we have come through our own efforts as we have risked much for a vision we once embraced. And if we lose our focus we settle in and we stagnate; being satisfied with the comfort of the familiar and our personal preferences; and we fail to see there is still more of Christ’s Vision for us than we have understood. We have not finished the task and accomplished the Vision He has set before us as His Church.
Vision does matter! What we see is what we get. It takes strength and courage to take an honest look at ourselves. It’s natural to prefer what makes us feel good – including how we feel about what we are doing and enjoying as we “do” church. But neither the Church of Jesus Christ as a whole, nor Fishers United Methodist Church belongs to us. It is NOT about us! We are God’s Church – created for God’s purpose! To make decisions to satisfy our preferences takes our focus off of God and puts it on ourselves. To do that, robs the church of its purpose and God-given power.
We are standing at the edge of our “village” looking out into the unknown wilderness. God’s vision for us lies beyond what we can see – beyond the “5 mile road we have cut.” But he calls us to go further and he will guide us on our journey. We can’t see the destination [truth be told, it would likely scare us to much to go]. But if we can’t see our destination we can at least go trusting the One who charts our course and calls us to follow!
How’s your vision today? There are people all around us – all ages, attitudes, and lifestyles – who do not yet know the love and freedom that comes in receiving Christ. They are wandering in the “wilderness not even five miles out of town.” Do you see them? Do they matter? Are they still the reason we exist?
Proverbs 29:18 tells us “where there is no vision the people perish.” Friends, as I look deeper at this I believe this is true not only for those wandering “outside of town” but it is also true for the “townsfolk” ourselves. It’s our choice. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great; no trek into the wilderness too arduous. Without that clear vision we rarely move beyond our current boundaries. How’s your vision today? Join me in the journey toward God’s call!
My family recently got back from a trip to Canada and as I was reflecting on our time there I realized one of my favorite things about the vacation was pretty surprising. We didn’t have cell service. No texts, notifications, bings, buzzes, nothing. It was beyond refreshing. Spending time in nature, appreciating God’s masterpiece, connecting with family uninterrupted by typical daily cell phone notifications, peaceful does not even describe how amazing it was. It was like my brain hit the reset button.
So, it got me thinking, how much time does the average person spend on electronic devices in a day?
Common Sense Media conducted a survey in 2016, which included parents of children (ages 8-18) and found these parents spend an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes every day in front of various screens (smartphones, tablets, computers and tvs). 78% of those people believe that they are good technology and media role models for their children. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
That is kind of a scary statistic, and probably is even higher now….
So, if I’m the average parent and spend that much time on my cell/computer/tv, etc. then it totally makes sense why when completely taken away, my days seemed so drastically different, but yet in a an incredible way. I seemed more focused, present, and peaceful. I know for me, it was realization that too much screen time takes me further away from who I want to be and what I want to focus on.
What about you? Is there something in your life that is taking focus away from your priorities?
King David wrote these words in the 16th Psalm and paints lovely imagery of God being his focus, a wise reminder of our ultimate priority.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. -Psalm 16:8-11 (NIV)
The first church to ever hire me as their youth pastor was in a little tiny town called Grande Cache up in the Canadian Rockies. It was beautiful. There were 23 mountains visible from town alone (and many more if you took the time to climb one). So, of course, when I moved there I started climbing mountains. All the time. I even helped with a program called "Passport to the Peaks" where you could get a stamp at the top of the mountains visible from town and try to scale every one. No, I didn't get them all, but I did help place some of the stamps up there.
When I moved to town I only knew one person. His name was Chad. He came into the music store I worked at in college quite often to buy new gear. And as God usually works things out, Chad and his family attended the church that hired me (he was kind of excited when I moved to town, I could show him how to set it all up). Chad and his family worked as loggers in the forests at the base of the mountains and when I found that out I asked him what he thought of working in the mountains. "Meh". Wait, what? So I asked what he thought of the mountains and the scenery. And you know what he told me? He'd never climbed one. He'd never seen the top of a mountain. He had lived there his whole life and never taken the time to actually go up above where the trees grew where you could see for a hundred miles.
I was reminded of this while reading the story of Jesus going to Simon of Bethany's house for dinner (you can read it in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9). Simon was a man Jesus had healed from leprosy, a disease that had no cure and ostracized a person from their loved ones. And the disciples were there eating too, people who knew Jesus deeply. And another person was there, a woman who came in and washed Jesus with expensive perfume. When she did it the disciples were furious, they called it a waste. Simon contributes nothing to the story, he didn't say anything either way (or it wasn't important enough for us to know). When this woman chose to worship Jesus and honor Him in a way that was expensive those closest were upset and the one who had been given back his life and everything with it was silent.
I wonder if they had been with Jesus so long they lost a sense of who He was. The Person some saw as the Son of God they saw as the Person we eat dinner with, kind of like how I saw incredible mountains but Chad saw the things in his backyard. As we pass celebrating Christ's resurrection and put away our nice Easter clothes and finish up the leftover ham do we still hold that entire event in awe? Do we fully grasp all that moment entails and how eternity will be forever different because of that one sacrifice and how thanks to Christ's triumph over death things will never be the same again? Or do we hear it so often and do the dance every year that it just becomes that nice day we dress up and have dinner with our extended family after?
Please don't lose your sense of awe with what last Sunday meant. The Living God came to earth and took our sins upon Himself, dying on a cross all so we could be forgiven and have a relationship with Him because He is still the Living God who rose again and lives today. And He did it all for you. So you could be restored to that holy image of God He created in the Garden of Eden so long ago.
A week later are we still living like Easter really happened, like it made a difference?
Director of Sr. High Student Ministries and Modern Worship
For the past 2 weeks the Olympics has dominated our TV viewing time. Ice skating, skiing, curling (it is actually a favorite of ours…) you name it, we watch it. And as our Olympic binge watching is coming to an end, I will miss the unity it seemed to bring to us all. In the United States, I love how suddenly it seems we all band together to root on the “home team.” You could be a complete stranger, but watching any Olympic event at a local restaurant together can instantly bond you. And what about pride for our nation? It seems to soar as we watch fellow Americans compete for a medal.
Just a thought… What if we swapped out Olympics for God for a second? What would our lives or nation look like if we all banned together to praise God?
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 NIV
Or what if we were to chat about Jesus to complete strangers?
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15 NIV
What if our joy for God was so overflowing that we almost were bursting thinking about the amazing things he has done and is doing? And even outwardly cheering about Him?
Praise the Lord, all people on earth, praise his glory and might. 1 Chronicles 16:28 GNT
I mean, sure, watching someone land a quadruple lutz is pretty amazing, but God created this whole planet and everything on it. That definitely deserves some cheering.
For my family, there is a sense of comfort knowing that anytime of the day we could turn on the TV and watch the Olympics. While I will miss that, I am comforted in knowing that God is always there and always will be.
Recently I attended a conference of 1600 people involved in Children’s Ministry. The conference began with an incredible prayer experience. This experience brought people together in a way I have never experienced at a conference, this large before. As people genuinely engaged in the prayer experiences, barriers were broken, hearts were healed, eternal friendships were formed and unity in Christ became the norm. We explored throughout the week the phrase “We Were Made for This.”. As I spent time listening, engaging in conversation, worshipping and praying, several things became evident.
When we admit our doubts, failures and struggles healing begins to happen.
When we release anger, bitterness and frustration, it is replaced with the “Peace of God.”
When we are at a loss for identity, we are reminded by God that we are made for a purpose.
When God’s people are vulnerable with each other, the realization is that we are more alike than different and we do not have to prove ourselves.
When we are genuine with each other, others who identify with the same struggles are encouraged and find hope in their own lives.
When we live in a tough world where the struggles are real, it is easy to ignore the struggles other are going through.
When we encounter a person we have no idea of their life journey, unless we ask and listen.
When we are rushed and consumed with tasks, we miss the opportunity to minister to those with whom we encounter.
When we are faithful and fervent we bear the fruit of the promises of God and can share that fruit.
When we are provided time to share the journey with others who share the same calling, creativity abounds and the ripple effects can be felt in communities across this nation.
As I reread and think about this list, it goes far beyond a conference experience. It embodies the church, we are called to be a part of. It embodies the hopes, dreams and needs of people in our communities. It is a reminder to me of our call and purpose as a part of the kingdom of God.
If this Blog resonates in any way with you. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to go deeper, through conversation, time around a table, or extended email conversations.