Here We Are!

Well, here we are! January 2023- A New Year!!! What does this new year hold in store for us? Can we make an attempt at a guess? Maybe yes, maybe no! Should we even try? There are some givens for this new year. There will be joys along with sorrows. Some will be sick this year, and some will be healthy all year. Some will have problems, and some will breeze through 2023 with seemingly not a care in the world. How do we deal with the long list of situations we may face in the coming year? Let’s see, shall we try?

Let’s begin with “can I or we make it on our own?” The answer to that is a resounding NO! Some folks make new year’s resolutions at this time of year. We’ve heard them all, maybe done them all, haven’t we? “I’m going to lose weight this year.” Nothing wrong with that one is there? I think all of us could stand to live a healthier lifestyle. And one of the ways we can live a healthier lifestyle is by eating right. Here’s another, “I’m going to start exercising to start the new year.” Again, that sounds like a great resolution, doesn’t it? Walking, running, working out, going to the gym- all great ideas! The list of resolutions could go on and on and on. Obviously, the intent is good. But the follow-up tends to be much more difficult, doesn’t it?

So, what about making it on our own? We’ve already determined that’s impossible. We need each other! Spouses, children, siblings, parents, church friends, pastors, and best friends are all great helps in making it through life. But I believe the greatest help in “making it” comes from God.

Psalm 46 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The reality is that there will be difficult times, but God promises to be our refuge. When life jumps up and kicks us in the teeth, where do we turn? God has not failed us yet. And He never will. He has promised to be with us in the midst of troubles and trials. We sometimes think that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances that God has abandoned us, but this is not the case.

But as we look ahead at 2023, we can rest assured that God is also with us during the good times. Matter of fact, the reason we have good times, is because of God. Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’”

Maybe the best resolution we could make for this coming new year of 2023 would be to let God be God totally in our lives. Let’s quit trying to depend upon self and learn more about depending on God. If I, Tim Lewis, have learned nothing else in the past year 2022, it’s that I can’t do it by myself. Some circumstances are just beyond my capabilities to solve. I’m not super pastor. Most of you have figured that out by now. But God does not require or ask me to be super pastor. Nor does he require you to be super parishioner. All He desires is for us to lean more on Him. Again, the psalmist may cover it best. Psalm 3:5 and 6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Maybe that is the best resolution of all for 2023! I leave you with this blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

God Sent His Son

“When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4)

Here we go again! Where does the time go? It only seems like yesterday when we were celebrating Christmas last year! Does life seem to speed up the older we get? It sure seems as if it does.

It’s funny how time is viewed in different ways to different people. As a kid, it seemed like it took FOREVER for Christmas to get here. I loved everything about Christmas–the decorations, the music, the special worship services, the family gatherings, but most of all, of course, the presents. But as I waited for Christmas to arrive, the weeks and days seemed to go by so slowly. As a kid, time just seemed to slow down before Christmas.

As an adult, I have a very different perspective on the passage of time, especially this time of the year. With of the special services to prepare, all of the events and activities on the calendar, not to mention making sure all of the gifts have been purchased, wrapped, and delivered, it seems to me that Christmas is coming WAY too fast. Time really seems to have sped up.

To God’s Old Testament believers, it must have seemed like it was taking forever for the birth of the Savior to come. After all, God had promised to send the Offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head way back in Eden. But year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia went by, and the day still hadn’t come. Time must have seemed like it slowed way, way down for those who were longing for the Savior to come.

But God sees things differently. He sees things from the perspective of eternity. The apostle Peter wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). God knew when the right time for the Savior to come would be. And so it was, at exactly the right time, God sent his Son. Notice, it was not on humanity’s time, but on His time.

There were so many things that made it the right time; things like the census decreed by Caesar Augustus that caused Mary and Joseph to journey to Bethlehem (just as Micah had prophesied centuries earlier), or the fact that the Romans employed crucifixion as their method of executing criminals (again, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Savior’s death), or the Roman’s military strength, which resulted in peace and ensured safe travel, plus the Greek language being used nearly universally, thus enabling the good news of the Savior to be spread quickly and easily.

All these things and more made it the right time–God’s time–for the birth of Jesus. God’s time is always the right time, even when it doesn’t seem that way to us. When we pray for something, and we don’t receive the answer we desire immediately, we may think God’s time is wrong. But it’s not! When a loved one is called home to heaven at a young age, we may think that they were taken from us too soon. But God’s time is never the wrong time. We may not understand God’s timetable, at least not right away. But one day we will.

Whether it seems to us like Christmas is taking forever to get here, or it’s coming way too fast, let’s remember that God sent his Son at just the right time. And may the celebration of that coming remind us that God’s time is always the right time.

From your parsonage family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year!

“Where Could I Go?” 

Is it November already?  My heart and my body suggest to me that it should still be July or August.  I long for the warm days and especially the warm mornings when I could take my coffee and reading materials to the front porch to bask in the glory of God’s creation.  But, alas, the calendar doesn’t lie, does it?  So…November, here we come! Like it or not!

As I sit here in the church office this morning, I’m watching the beautiful maple trees being removed from the front yard of the parsonage.  We’ve known for months that this day was coming.  Still, knowledge didn’t prepare me for the reality that is here.  Just seems to make the melancholy even more profound as I grieve the passing of warm weather and watch the removal of our beautiful shade trees in the yard.

And then I think of the heartache we see in the lives of so many of our friends and neighbors.  A dear friend shared with me recently that he had lost over $300,000 in the past year from his retirement accounts.  I could see the concern on his face as he shared. All of us who are nearing retirement can’t help but be concerned for what the future holds.

I am also concerned for so much sickness in the lives of our friends and loved ones.  It seems we hear of more and more cancer diagnoses with each passing day.  Chemo, radiation, immuno-therapy- those words, and more besides, sound so serious.  And THEY ARE SERIOUS!  And then what about covid?  Just when we think it is subsiding, it pops up again.  Fortunately, recent covid sicknesses do not seems to be as serious as they were months ago.  Still, it’s troubling, isn’t it?  And we could go on and on, couldn’t we?  What will be the next new virus, bug, or sickness that comes along?  I do not know.  You do not know. Only God knows.

On and on we could go- sharing the troubles, trials, tribulations, and problems we hear about each day from those we love and care about. They just seem endless, don’t they? If we are not careful, we could let it all just cause us to slide into profound depression.  So, where do we go for comfort and assurance that everything is going to be okay?

Well, I’m reminded today of an old hymn.  Many years ago, I played piano for an African-American singing group from Sparta.  I’ve shared that, many times, I was the only white boy in the house.  And that was okay!  I loved it!  Those sweet people treated me like their brother, and I loved them dearly. Several of them have now gone on to be with the Lord.  One of the songs they sang was “Where Could I Go, But to the Lord!”  My oh my, they could rock that old song.  But today, the words of that song bring peace and comfort to my soul once again during these troublesome times.  Truly, God still brings peace, comfort, and assurance that, no matter what troubles and trials we face down here, we always have Him- even when all other sources of comfort are gone.

Living Below in This Old Sinful World,
Hardly A Comfort Can Afford;
Striving Alone to Face Temptations Sore,
Where Could I Go but to the Lord?

Where Could I Go, O Where Could I Go?
Seeking A Refuge for My Soul?
Needing A Friend to Help Me in The End,
Where Could I Go but to the Lord?

May God again bring His peace and comfort to these difficult days in which we live.  The month of November includes that wonderful day of Thanksgiving!  As we indulge in all our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, let us remember that we can go to Him anywhere and anytime!

In Christ, Pastor Tim

What Are Sacraments?

Are you familiar with the term “Sacrament?”   A Sacrament could be described as a Christian rite or ritual that is celebrated by the church.  We as Methodists recognize two primary sacraments- Holy Baptism and Holy Communion that we observe in obedience to Jesus’ commands.

Regarding Holy Baptism, Matthew the Disciple gives us an account of Jesus command regarding Baptism. It is found in chapter 28, starting with verse 18.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

When a disciple is baptized, this is an outward sign that one has made a commitment to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord and become a part of the community of faith.

If you are a follower of Jesus but have never been baptized as a Believer, would you please speak to Pastor Tim in order to begin the process?

But what about Holy Communion, our second Sacrament? 

Methodists, like other Protestants, view Holy Communion as a sacrament. It is a sacred act of worship ordained by Christ and a means by which God dispenses grace to believers. We, as Methodists, view Communion as a way to remember Christ’s sacrifice and experience God’s presence.

The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion and the Eucharist are all names for this sacrament celebrated by Methodists. Each of these names highlights an aspect of this act of worship.

According to This Holy Mystery, The United Methodist Church’s official document on communion, “The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus Christ is the host and that we participate at Christ’s invitation.” Jesus invites us to take part in the special meal he ate with his disciples the night before his crucifixion, and other meals he shared in homes and on hillsides.

“The term Holy Communion invites us to focus on the self-giving of the Holy God which makes the sacrament an occasion of grace, and on the holiness of our communion with God and one another,” This Holy Mystery continues.

Finally, “Eucharist, from the Greek word for thanksgiving, reminds us that the sacrament is thanksgiving to God for the gifts of creation and salvation.”

There are no conditions for church membership or completion of a class required.

The baptized present are all invited, even if they belong to a different church.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of both of our Sacraments.

What’s Next

Here we are again- SEPTEMBER! Where did the summer go? The kids are back in school. Wednesday Night Life is back in session! We had our “Blessing of the Backpacks.” The kids and the entire congregation seemed to enjoy the service.

The next question that comes up may be, “Now what?” Believe me, things are not slowing down. We may be slowing down from summer activities. But the church does not have the option of slowing down. There is kingdom work to do! How do we do that? And another question is, how do we do that in con-junction with all the other things going on? For instance, the disaffiliation discussions that have been taking place within our Administrative Council and, most recently, with the entire church group.

Let’s get caught up, shall we? General Conference 2019 passed a resolution allowing churches to “disaffiliate” from the United Methodist Church if they disagreed with stances taken on two different issues. This is section 2553 in the Book of Disciple. There are two issues which a church can use as the basis for their decision to seek disaffiliation. First, “reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference.” The second reason is “the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues.”

Many churches have already made use of the opportunity. Approximately 60 Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference churches were approved for disaffiliation at this year’s annual conference. Many more are somewhere in the process.
Both Homestead and Dorton, beginning in the administrative councils, and continuing most recently with general church meetings, have been discussing the possibility of accepting the offer to disaffiliate. Obviously, this creates great consternation on everyone’s part. As pastor, I can most assuredly say it brings great consternation to me and Mrs. Preacher!

Now some might say, “what do you really think, Pastor?” Let me say this. I have tried my best to “straddle the fence” throughout this process. I have provided information for both councils when I was asked, while trying not to influence as best I can. When I have been asked on a personal level, I have shared my opinion. Over the years, I have encouraged my congregants to do their own research on matters of conscience. You have access to the same information. But remember this, pastors come and go at local churches. But this is your church. You hopefully don’t come and go like pastors. That continues to be my mantra throughout the current process. You, the church, must decide what you want for the future.

But with all of that said, as of Sunday, August 28, 2022, our Homestead Church has decided not to pursue disaffiliation and will continue to monitor the situation at both the annual conference and general conference levels. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

In Christ, Pastor Tim

Serve to Lead

Matthew 20:25-28 tells us that, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If we want to be the type of leader that Jesus was, there are plenty of examples of how he led and what He said about leading others in scripture, especially the gospels (Paul talks a lot about Jesus’ leadership as well). The scripture above makes it clear that if you want to lead in the Kingdom you must serve. Not to serve first, then you earn the right to lead, Biblical leaders continue to serve. A Christlike-leader serves always. Romans 6:13, “offer yourselves to God” becomes a fixed point to navigate Christian leadership.

Giving ourselves to kingdom work becomes exhausting when people continually let us down. That person that you invested so much in feels called to another ministry. That couple you counseled with for hours on end decides to give up on their marriage. Without even calling you, they file for divorce. That young man from your discipleship class decides he’s not all that sure if there even is a God and stops returning your texts.

How do we deal with the frustration and disappointment? Primarily, we must recognize that it is not our responsibility to convict of sin and woo others to Christ. In fact, it’s none of our business! We are not the Holy Spirit. You do not offer yourself to a church, to an institution, or to people. You offer yourself to God.

In times of disappointment and betrayal, focus on offering yourself to Him and doing the labor (for Him) of fishing for men and making disciples. Overcome the temptation to fix everyone’s problems by taking them to God in prayer. Only He can fix them anyway.

There is a story told of a fisherman who bought a new compass. Excitedly, he fastened it to the front of his boat and set off into the ocean, beyond sight of land. After a full day he decided to head home following his new compass. After an hour or so, he knew he should be able to see the shore, yet there he was surrounded by waves on a clear day. As he saw the sun begin to set in front of him, instead of off his left shoulder, he realized the compass was leading him west instead of north. He knew the compass worked when he bought it; what had gone wrong? When he got home he unscrewed the compass and it immediately shifted . Only then did he realize that the screw he had mounted the compass with was magnetized. It would always point north no matter which way he was going.

As we all struggle with our personal calls to kingdom work, The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “…let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Keeping our focus upon Him is the only way to move forward in the face of trials and tribulations.

What’s New

In my article each month, I usually try to write something “spiritual” that will hopefully help us all move along in our journey of faith. But I am using my newsletter article for next couple of months to update you on some ongoing and future projects here on the property.

Those of you who have attended Homestead Church for any length of time may remember that the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation purchased the west end of the property from the church some twenty years ago. The purpose for this purchase was to re-align Deep Draw Road- changing the current V-shape stop intersection into a T-shape. It has taken this long to finally get this project moving. 

This construction will primarily affect the church in two ways. The first is the elimination of most parking on the Highway 68 side of the church. We’ve had use of that area all these years even though it actually belonged to the state as highway right of way.  Once construction is completed, it is possible that there may be room for some parallel parking. But that remains to be seen, since we will only be left with about 20 feet from the edge of our sidewalk to the road edge.

This also affects the traffic for our monthly food pantry.  The past few months have seen such heavy use of the food pantry that pantry recipients have formed four lines entering the property to receive food.  Our parking guys, Gary and George (who do such a great job by the way), report that at times cars are even sitting on the side of the highway before entering the church parking lot. Obviously, this will have to end due to the projected alignment of the new road. 

This leads us to the second affect in our property.  With the near elimination of parking on that side for regular services and especially the food pantry, the church council has been struggling with a solution to resolve the situation. The few viable solutions have led the council to the decision to pursue creating more parking in front of the church which is currently covered in grass. However, after having received several bids for this project, the result is an extremely high cost.  The lowest bid came in around $27,000 up to the highest bid of just over $36,000.  Furthermore, this price will only result in a gravel parking lot. Paving the parking lot would incur even greater cost.

Please be in prayer for your church council as they work together to find solutions to our parking lot situation including locations and costs. Road construction is tentatively scheduled to begin later this summer. So, your church board is somewhat under pressure to find solutions.

For our upcoming August newsletter article, we’ll share about some of the beautiful work done by several church members to improve the looks of our property, and perhaps update you on the parking lot situation.

During these dog days of summer when it would be so easy to let our faithfulness to our church wane, let’s make an extra special effort to prioritize our attendance and giving!

Pastor Tim

Joy, Sorrow, Life

May 2022 has certainly been a month of highs and lows, joys and sorrows! We started out the month on a joyous high. With our covered dish meal and silent auction back on Sunday, May 1st, we enjoyed a wonderful time of food and fellowship. Several parishioners remarked how good it is that we are finally getting back to some degree of normalcy. I, for one, have missed our Homestead ladies, and men’s, delicious home cooking. Hopefully, as things progress, we can be back to normal.

The end of the month brought great sorrow to the parsonage and pastoral family as we experienced the loss of a grandson’s best friend and “brother” in a motorcycle accident. Anthony had spent much time in all our family’s homes and was considered family even though there was no blood connection.

Life does not always promise to be a “bed of roses,” does it? As happy as our hearts were at the beginning of May, we were just as disheartened at the end of May. But it reminds us once again that our eternal hope does not reside here on this earth, but instead our eternal home is in heaven where we shall live forever and ever with those who have gone ahead of us.

But sometimes I must remind myself that the things of this earth are only temporary anyway. James the Apostle wrote that we have no promise of life continuing on earth. He writes, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

Consequently, if we have no promise of tomorrow here, then we must look to the promise of something in the afterlife- the eternal if you will. For this promise, we need look no further than the Apostle Paul’s writings in Philippians 3:20-21. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that
enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Doesn’t that send a thrill through your body and soul? The effects of aging are catching up with many of us quickly. Yet, we have not only the promise of eternal life with our brother Jesus (since we are heirs and joint heirs with Him), but we also have the promise of eternal life with those we have loved here on earth. And, if that isn’t enough, that life will be
lived throughout all eternity (whatever that means) with a brand-new body free of all the aches and pains we feel now.

So, let’s try to take our focus off the troubles we experience in life. Let’s RE-focus on the wonderful life that Jesus has gone to prepare for us in Heaven! Can I get a witness? Amen.

Hello May!

The month of April 2022 has certainly been an unusual month, hasn’t it? Lots of rain but thank goodness no extremely destructive storms to speak of. It seems the past few years that the spring storms have been exceptionally destructive. So, a reprieve during this spring of 2022 is certainly welcomed and appreciated.

That said, I’ve been thinking about the “storms of life” which we all face from time to time. It seems that the old devil has really been pulling out all the stops to torment our church folk and their families. It is certainly true for your parsonage family, and from all I have been told, it is certainly true for many of you.

How do we deal with the attacks of the devil? I think the answer to that question is rooted in something Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Who is he coming after? Obviously, it is those who are a part of Christ’s kingdom. He really doesn’t bother the unsaved that much. Frankly, it could be said that he has them right where he wants them. This frees up his time to come after God’s people.

Dr. David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California is one of my favorite authors (even if he is Southern Baptist – LOL). He is one of many writers who call this “spiritual warfare.” I’ve got to be honest with you, my dear parishioners and friends. This month of April has felt a lot like warfare. Old Satan has pulled out lots of weapons from his arsenal against many of us in and outside the church. It seems we overcome one attack and along comes another.

So how do we deal with these attacks? There is no one single answer to that question. But let me share just a couple of ideas with you.

First, we should pray and read scripture regularly. Spending time with God and His Word will help you know Him better and be assured of His love for you. Psalm 91 is a good place to start. It really is a covenant prayer – that assures us of being confident in the Lord’s sheltering care.

Second, remember that God is stronger than the devil. Christ defeated Satan on the cross, so He can deliver you from Satan’s traps and keep you in the protection of His grace. That’s what the apostle James had in mind when he wrote, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Obviously these two brief observations are not the “end all be all” answer to the attacks of Satan. But they are great place to start.

Let’s band together in prayer for one another as we fight the fight with the devil and his tricks. There is strength in numbers.

In closing, I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:38 and 39. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Pastor Tim

Hello April!

Dear Friends in Christ,

As many of you know, our Wednesday Night Life adult Bible class will be wrapping up a long-term study of Revelation this month. This study has been ongoing for the better part of a year- including a break for several months as Covid numbers suddenly in-creased for a period of time.

It has been interesting to say the least. So many wonderful thoughts, opinions, and ideas have been shared. I think we can all, including me, say we have learned things we did not previously know.

One of the things that sticks with me as we near the end of the study is the fact that we need to be ready for end times. No, I’m not saying we’re on the verge of the end of the world. But I do believe that much prophecy has been fulfilled which leads me to believe it could happen anytime. That said, we remember the words of Jesus speaking about His return to earth in Matthew 24:36, “But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be—not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows.”

Yes, you heard that right! Jesus Himself does not even know when He is coming again. So, again, what did I get out of this study? Be ready! Yes, I said BE READY! If we all will just make absolutely sure that we are ready for His return, it won’t really matter exactly when it occurs.

How then should we “be ready”? I think it begins with prayer. Certainly, these dark times in which we are living call us to a deeper prayer life or at least they should. During this month of April, as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our savior, we are reminded that even Jesus Himself spent much time in prayer during the last days of His earthly life. On more than one occasion, Jesus reminded us that “the servant is not greater than his master.” If Jesus Himself felt the need to spend a great deal of time in prayer, then certainly we need to do likewise.

My advice? Don’t worry about the end of the world. Don’t worry about Jesus’ coming. Just stay on your knees, thus staying close to the Lord. Pray, pray, pray! Pray for our world.

Pray for our country. Pray for our state, county, city and own community. Pray for our neighbors. Pray for loved ones. Pray for friends. Pray for our leaders on all levels of government. I could go on and on about who and what to pray for, but I think you get the message. During this Easter month, there is much to pray about! Let’s get “on our knees” and “Just Have a Little Talk with Jesus”!

In closing, we offer a huge debt of thanks to Rolf Weeks! Rolf is the husband of our church secretary Sharon Weeks. Rolf has dedicated himself to leading the study of Revelation. Thankfully, I am happy to tell you that Rolf and Sharon will be staying with us for our soon to be announced new Wednesday Night Life Adult Bible Study.

If you have not been attending, let me encourage you to consider coming to join us. Kelly Thompson has been doing a fantastic job preparing a delicious meal for our 5:00 pm dinner. Our study time follows immediately after around 5:30-5:45. I just know you will enjoy it.

See you there!

Pastor Tim