The Pastor’s Desk-February Newsletter

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.” Luke 4:1-2

Lent begins this year on February 14th and commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert and enduring temptation by Satan, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This was at the beginning of his earthly ministry. This time of preparation helped to focus his mind and heart on his three year journey to the cross. Similarly, the church has historically observed the season of Lent as we approach the celebration of Easter. Lent is a season marked by a somber tone of reflection and repentance. Recognizing the great joy that comes with the resurrection, Lent first calls us to feel the weight of our sin that nailed Jesus to cross.

Just preceding Lent is Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is sometimes called Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of Lent and, historically, was when Christians would prepare a large feast to use up meat and supplies they would normally not use until Easter. Both Homestead and Dorton Churches will have a pancake supper in observance of Fat Tuesday. Dorton begins at 4:30 pm. Homestead begins at 5:00 pm.

 But, officially, the season begins with Ash Wednesday. Traditionally symbolizing mourning or grief, Ash Wednesday involves a symbolic placing of ashes on our foreheads. The ashes represent an outward expression of repentance for our sin. Ash Wednesday will be February 14th (also Valentine’s Day- how appropriate?) from 5:00-6:00 pm. Feel free to drop by the side narthex for the imposition of ashes by Pastor Tim.

Along with committing to special times of prayer throughout the season, many Christians choose to “give up” or “fast” from specific things. For example, you might fast from caffeine or social media to place your attention on Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.

In times of temptation to “break the fast” we learn to turn to God and rely upon his strength to endure. As we begin Lent, let us be challenged during the season with whatever we decide to fast from. And, as a church, let us commit ourselves to both prayer and fasting during this season so that our minds and hearts may be encouraged to love Jesus, live like Jesus, and lead others to Jesus.

 Lent continues through Thursday, March 28th, concluding with the annual Seder Meal here at the church.

The Pastor’s Desk-January Newsletter

Endings and Beginnings! That’s where we find ourselves at this time of year, isn’t it? The end of the year 2023 and the beginning of the year 2024. We remember the successes, good times, and good things of 2023. And we look forward to the same in the coming year.

What does the scripture say about endings and beginnings? The Bible is chock full of scriptural references about both endings and beginning. But as we come to the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, the Apostle Paul may have some of the best quotes for remembering the past and looking to the future.

In II Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Did you catch that? “Old things have passed away.” I guess he is reminding us that, while it might be good to remember the past, it is also good to realize there is very little we can do to change it. It’s sort of like unkind words that slip out of our mouth during some disagreement or discussion. Once those old words have slipped out, you can’t reach out there, grab them, and put them back into your mouth. About the only thing we can do after committing such an act is make amends for the unkind words through an apology to the offended person and hope they will forgive us. I believe it was old Benjamin Franklin who said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is mostly true for all the bad things we’ve done in our life.

So, what about new beginnings? Again, we remember Paul’s Corinthians quote, “all things have become new.” A new year brings new opportunities. Opportunities to do good in our lives. Opportunities to do things differently than we’ve done in the past. Opportunities to do right instead of wrong. Opportunities to say good and right words instead of hurtful, wrong words to others. But that also brings to mind a word that has a hint of good intentions that seldom pan out. Shhhh! RESOLUTIONS! Oh yes, resolutions! What resolutions are we making to secure a better 2024 than 2023 or past years have been? I can’t speak for you, as you can’t speak for me. But I can say to you that, at least for me, if God isn’t in the center of that resolution, it’s probably going to fail. So, as we make our resolutions to be better people in 2024, let’s make God the center of those resolutions.

Yes, look back at 2023, but it’s more important to look forward to 2024. Let’s quote Paul one more time, shall we? He says in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The Pastor’s Desk-December Newsletter

I shared this post on my Facebook page some two years ago. And I recently shared it again. Some said I should share it with a wider audience. So here goes.

I’ve just been thinking about the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas, of the year 1936. Eighty-five years ago, a little widowed lady was trying to keep food on the table and clothes on the backs of eight youngsters in the middle of the Great Depression. The coal mines had just closed a few years before, leaving her now deceased husband without work. I’ve often wondered as I’ve gotten older how her faith was tested as she dealt with the situation as best she could. If one wanted to call an entire year a disaster, 1936 would have been that year. And it was going to be a long time before this dire situation showed much improvement.

What was so disastrous about that year 1936, you ask? June 26, 1936- her 41st birthday, she lost her mother-in-law. Two weeks later, on July 8, 1936, she lost her mother. The next day, July 9th, as the family gathered there at the Eastland Cemetery for her mother’s burial service, a sudden storm came up. Her beloved husband had been holding the baby standing under a tree in the cemetery. As the wind increased, the thunder began to roll, and the lightning began to flash, he passed the little one, my mother’s youngest sister, Aunt Alma, through the car window to her mother.

He took his place back under the tree with some of the other men to wait out the storm. Suddenly, a huge flash of lightning shot from the sky, striking the very tree where gathered those men. Three of those men were knocked to the ground by the bolt of lightning. One of those men being her husband, another being her brother. The last being a neighbor. Her husband lay dead from the massive lightning strike and her brother was knocked senselessly. He would pass away the following February of 1937 in the coal mines in Kentucky, never having fully recovered from being struck.

Skipping ahead a few months, here come the holidays. Eight children were left at home, the oldest boy just 17 years of age. “I’ll bet he was a big help to his mother,” you’re probably thinking. Well, think again. He was a deaf mute and would soon leave home, his destination being the Tennessee School for the Deaf. Don’t you know that little widow lady’s faith and will was certainly tested? Now you’re probably wondering who was this little widowed lady? Well, she was my “tough as nails” little grandmother Maude Crawford Watley Bolin. To me and 29 other grandchildren, she was “Fat Granny.” I have no idea how she came to be called that because, at least in my eyes, she was not fat. To many nieces and nephews, she was Aunt Maude. She came from hearty stock, she had to be tough to bear the burdens of widowhood with eight mouths to feed. She went on to live on this earth almost 95 years, passing away June 5, 1990, three weeks to the day, shy of her 95th birthday and almost 54 years after the passing of her coal miner husband. Late in life, she finally remarried. But her second husband soon preceded her in death, also.

The Pastor’s Desk-November Newsletter

How to begin, how to begin! Looking around us, the world seems to be falling apart before our very eyes. God, how can we have peace in our hearts to face the daily barrage of bad news from every source? Turn on the television news, it’s bad news. Listen to the radio? Better not tune it to a news station. It’s bad news! Open a newspaper? The headlines will be filled with more of the same. It’s bad news! How do we as Christians maintain our cheery attitude in the face of all this bad news?

First, we need to remember that we are not citizens of this world. What? You can’t mean that, Pastor Tim! You are probably saying, “I am privileged to vote in elections for this very reason. I AM A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!” Well, it kind of reminds me of an old saying. This isn’t scriptural, but it is certainly true. As Christians, we may live “in the world, but don’t have to be of the world.” We all know that we must live in this physical world. However, we do not have to participate in everything Satan’s world has to offer. Sexual immorality, greed, drugs, drunkenness, adulteries, etc. All these are part of the world, but one who does not participate in these things is not of this world. Now your next question is probably, “What do you mean by the term ‘Satan’s world’?” According to I John 5:19, Satan is the ruler and controller of things here on earth, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” So then, let’s get back to the citizenship question. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Alistair Begg writes in his blog titled “Six Marks of a Heavenly Citizen,” To be a Christian is to be a citizen of heaven, and to be a citizen of heaven is to be a stranger and exile while on earth. This status is not only in name; it results in a true break with the world, so that Christians no longer do as the world does, and the world often resents them for it (1 Peter 4:3–4). In the words of Hebrews 11:16, ‘They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.’ Christians are to be recognizable by their strangeness in this world, because Christians are resident aliens here.’ So much more could be written disconnecting the negative things of this world with the positive things of Heaven. For lack of space, let’s condense it to this. We must not let ourselves get bogged down in the worries and problems of this world. Yes, we must live in this world. But we cannot be of this world, and as such, we cannot let the worries and problems get us down. For once again, quoting the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Dear friends, let’s follow the great example of Paul. Let’s not get bogged down in the barrage of bad news coming from every corner of our world. Instead, let’s keep our focus on Heaven, the place where there will be no more sorrow and no more tears. Press on, dear friends! PRESS ON!

The Pastor’s Desk-October Newsletter

Last month for September, we talked about prayer. Let’s continue that thought this month, shall we? In particular, let’s think about how, why, and when we pray for one another. Now you’re probably asking, “Pastor Tim, why are you talking about this again?” The answer to that question lies in some personal things I as an individual and your pastor, and we as a family have been experiencing in this month of September of 2023.

Frankly, it’s been a tough month. I don’t know, but I think it may be age creeping up on me quicker than I expected. It’s been a tough month physically. Going through a second bout of the C-word has taken a toll, I believe. Even though the symptoms didn’t seem as bad as the first go-round last December, it is taking much longer this time to get back to normal. As of this writing, Wednesday, September 27th, I’m still experiencing a great deal of fatigue and lingering minor symptoms. Obviously, it’s not debilitating, but it certainly is a drag on one’s normal daily activities.

What does all this have to do with prayer, Pastor? I guess when I shared last month’s article concerning prayer, I really didn’t know at the time how much I would need to be reminded, during the upcoming month, about how very important prayer is in our lives. I’ve realized, this month, that there are times when we even find it a struggle to pray for ourselves. It is during those times that we realize how wonderful it is to know that we have other folks in our lives who are “taking up the slack,” and praying for us.

I cannot tell you how many times this month, for various reasons, someone has reminded me that they are praying for me. It is a true joy to know that our friends and loved ones care enough for us, that they regularly are praying for our needs. But it’s also a joy to ACTUALLY BE TOLD by those same prayer warriors. It is such a blessing to have that assurance that we’re not alone in this daily walk of life.

That answers the why and when questions, doesn’t it? But how about the “how” of prayer? That one is a little harder to define. Frankly, there may not be one single ideal answer as to how. And maybe it’s not that important anyway. For the recipient (in this case ME), just knowing that I’m being bathed in prayer is the important thing. How do we pray? I suppose the best answer to that is, however, you feel comfortable. If you feel the need to get on your knees and pour your heart out to God, then by all means, DO IT! If your favorite chair is your ideal location, there is nothing stopping you. So, the mode by which you spend time in prayer is up to you. The important thing is “just do it.” And please, when you’re praying for someone in particular, tell them. You would be surprised to know how encouraging it is for the recipients of those prayers.

Quickly, in closing, it’s been a busy month around here, hasn’t it? Culminating in the kids (and lots of adults) participating in the Homestead Apple Festival. This is the second year we have sponsored the Pinto Beans and Cornbread Booth at the festival. While it is a lot of work for everyone involved, it is a wonderful opportunity to share what a wonderful church we are blessed to be a part of. Thanks to all the volunteers, from those who cooked beans and baked cornbread, to those who actually served, setup and tore down! A big thank you to Margie Bristow and Kelly Winn who were there both days from start to finish. If you see them, give them a word of thanks.

The Pastor’s Desk-September Newsletter

Praying for Our Church

For September’s newsletter, I want us to think about prayer. One of the reasons we give for not praying is we don’t know what to pray for. Well, I’d like to suggest this month we emphasize praying for our church! I googled “praying for the church” and found a prayer guide that is very relevant for us at Homestead. I am asking you to use this for the next month. Pray for these things in your personal prayer time, Sunday School, with a prayer partner, your family, or any other way you would like.

• Pray that marriages and family relationships throughout the congregation will be strengthened.

• Pray that strained or broken relationships, among families and friends as well as acquaintances, will be restored.

• Pray that our church family will be united in our worship of God, fellowship with one another, and ministry to the community. Ask God to help believers confront and remove issues and problems that threaten this unity.

• Pray that believers throughout the church will grow in relationship with Christ as they follow the path of discipleship.

• Pray for the shut-ins in our church, as well as those who are widowed and living alone. Ask God to bless and encourage them, anointing their lives with power for minis try as well as help for the needs they face daily.

• Pray that the youth in our church will stand strong for Christ in their schools and with their friends. Ask God to help each young person to follow His plan for their lives, both now and in the years to come.

• Pray that God will bless the children of the church, protecting them from harm and helping them to grow strong in the Lord as they prepare for a lifetime of serving Christ.

• Pray that the men in our church will have a powerful impact on its ministries, and that they will provide godly leadership in their homes, the church, and throughout the community.

• Pray that the women in our church will serve as leaders and role models of strength, maturity, and ministry at the church, in their families, and in the community.

• Pray that Christ will be at the center of every ministry, service, and event that takes place within the church and congregation.

• Pray that visitors to the church will sense the love and compassion of Christ, expressed through every member of the congregation.

• Pray for members of the congregation battling physical illness or emotional struggles or facing spiritual needs. Ask God to minister to them in miraculous ways.

• Pray that God will bless the financial needs of the church, calling believers to give generously and sacrificially through tithes and offerings.

• Pray that members of the congregation will convey a strong witness of the gospel to their community, through integrity, love, and godliness.

Thank you, dear church family, for your continued commitment to Christ and to your Homestead Church! Pastor Tim

The Pastor’s Desk-August Newsletter

Wow! Where does the time go? If your summer is going as fast as mine, we are probably asking the same question, where has the time gone? Time seems to be flying by this year, doesn’t it? Way back in January, when we welcomed in the New Year, it seemed like I blinked and it was time for Lent, which didn’t start until March this year, which is later than normal. In the middle of that, the first six weeks of the year were spent ministering to Mrs. Preacher’s mother’s final needs. She went to glory then on Valentines Day February 14th.

Then, it was Holy Week. After Easter, we celebrated confirmations and graduations in May. Last Saturday, we participated in Vacation Bible School jointly with Dorton. Also, in July, we took a few days of vacation visiting family members and members of our first Congregation in Kentucky. Other activities, such as M&M trips, have taken place. And boom, just like that we are at the end of July. Time seems to be going faster and faster. I remember when I was a kid at the beginning of school summer vacation thinking, “Three months (it really was like three months back then), that is an eternity. I am going to have lots of fun.” The time seemed to go faster than I thought it was going to.

Now we’re seeing the “Going back to School” sales. I’ve thought to myself, “Come on, it’s still summer.” Even though time seems to be flying by, a lot of living still takes place.

This year, I have presided over funerals and said goodbye to dear ones, whom I miss dearly. Lots of life happening. Even during a regular week, our regular routines start on Monday and the day is filled with all kinds of “things” I must do, whether that be working or doing my “to do” list. The days go by and we begin the weekend, which we fill with other activities. We try to spend some time playing together as a family or with friends, creating memories. Then we gather on Sunday morning to worship our Lord, have fellowship, catching up with each other, lifting each other up with God’s peace. We blink and another week is gone, and we begin another. Some days are hectic. Some days are a blessing. Some days bring stress and brokenness.

As I think about how time seems to fly or time can become real slow, and all the living that happens, I was reminded of a text in Revelation 21, verse 5 and 6. The scene is Jesus sitting on his throne. He has already returned as the Conquering Lamb of God, having Michael, the Archangel capture Satan and thrown him into the Lake of Fire. Jesus has judged all. Jesus rules overall. Then Jesus gives it all to his Father, so all in the universe is one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the ending.” As I think about these words of Jesus, I am reminded of the power of this promise. Jesus is Lord. Jesus was with the Father creating all things at the very beginning, the Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Jesus reign until he brings in the fullness of his kingdom, destroying death, sin and evil, making all things new as Jesus brings us into the perfect love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Pastor’s Desk-July Newsletter

Here we are again in the “dog days of summer”. Independence Day (4th of July) always leads us into the dog days. What does your family do to celebrate the holiday? Is it a day for a big barbecue? What about a picnic at the park? Is it just your family? Do you include others? Do you invite your brothers and sisters from the church? Do you invite your neighbors?

This holiday might be a great time to introduce your family, friends, and neighbors to your church lives. I’ve read that in excess of ninety-nine per cent of new attendees to a church are there because they were invited by a person in the pews. In other words, they were invited by a lay person- not the pastor! Isn’t that an amazing statistic? When family, friends, and neighbors come together for fun and fellowship, we are opening the doors to a wonderful opportunity to show the love of Christ and the fellowship of the church.

I believe the future is bright for our Homestead Methodist Church. But it bright because Jesus lives in our heart, and we truly want to share the love of Jesus with the world. Why don’t we, this Independence Day, use this wonderful opportunity to introduce others to Jesus through fellowship?

On another note, I had the privilege this past Sunday evening to attend a “get-acquainted” session for the Global Methodist Church. This event occurred in Manchester, Tennessee at the First Methodist Church there. It was a very informative meeting. I thought I knew about the GMC. But, as I found out in this meeting, there is still much to learn about the organization. I hope it is just the first of several opportunities to learn about the various other Wesleyan denominational groups.

I still do not feel that we are, in any way, ready to commit to another denominational entity. Perhaps we will never be ready. Someone said, “why would we want to jump right back into another restrictive organization when we just got out of one?” That is a fair question. I think the answer, at least for me, is a resounding, “We don’t!” If, and when, we do join some other entity, my prayer is that it will be much less restrictive.

One thing that was said Sunday evening of the GMC that struck a chord with me was that the GMC does not want to be driven from the “top down,” but rather from the “bottom up.” In other words, rather being told what to do, the local church will be freed to DO MINISTRY in their local community rather than being told how, when, what, and where to do ministry in the place(s) where they have told to do ministry. Sounds quite freeing, doesn’t it?

During these dog days of summer, let’s all make a concerted effort to invite, invite, invite our family, friends, and loved ones to be part of not only our home life, but also our church life. And let’s be on the lookout for those people who could be a part of our wonderful church!

The Pastor’s Desk-May Newsletter

This month of May 2023 may prove to be one of the most momentous in the history of Methodism- perhaps the most momentous since the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church. Some conferences have already held special annual conference sessions to vote on the dis-affiliations of hundreds of United Methodist Churches. However, this month many conferences will hold their vote.

On May 22, 2023, at 7:00 pm in the evening, our Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference will hold a special meeting online to vote. Dis-affiliations will be the only item on the agenda. Notice that the meeting is online only. It can be viewed, as I understand, on the conference website. Voting delegates (already elected by individual churches/charges) will be Zoom call only access. I will be sending a link before the meeting for the viewing site if you are interested, or you can
simply pull up the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference website to access.

As I said, some of our neighboring conferences had their vote this past month of April or earlier. Thus far, the vast majority of churches who have sought to disaffiliate have been approved with few exceptions. One example includes our neighbor conference just to the east, the Holston Conference. The Holston Conference comprises churches in East Tennessee (all churches east of us to the North Carolina state line), southwest Virginia, and Northwest Georgia. Prior to the vote, there were 842 churches in the conference. After the vote, 578 remained. Thus, a total of 264 churches requested disaffiliation. All were approved with one general vote in the meeting. That totals a little less than 31 per cent of the total number of churches in the conference.

Our sister conference just to our south is the Alabama Conference. This conference makes up the northern half of the state. Their meeting was held earlier. Of the 638 churches in the conference, 198 churches were approved for disaffiliation. The North Carolina Conference had approximately 798 churches prior to their vote. Of that number, 249 were approved for disaffiliation. By the end of this year, almost all of the conferences will have held votes on disaffiliation.

These are just a few of our neighboring conferences. There are many more. So, you can see why the United Methodist Church as a denomination is going to look vastly different going into 2024. My prayer and our prayer should be that all the consternation created by and through this process will cease and we all can work together for the salvation of the world.

Thus, pending almost certain conference approval on May 22nd, as of June 1st, Homestead United Methodist Church will become Homestead Methodist Church. A congregational vote was taken to approve the name change. For the time being, we will simply be an independent church. However, at some point in the future, we have the option of choosing to become a member of some other Methodist-connected denomination. We anticipate that we will study those options for approximately one year. Then we will make a decision on remaining independent or join another organization.

Let us all be in prayer, not only for our church, but all churches who are taking this enormous step of faith! Our only desire should be the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.

In Christ,
Pastor Tim

The Pastor’s Desk-April Newsletter

We say it every Sunday, but it never gets old, and it’s never untrue. “God IS good! ALL the time!” The past six months have definitely been an unusual time in the life of our church. As we began discussions early last fall concerning disaffiliation, I think we wondered where it would all lead. These past months have had some ups and downs as we struggled mightily with trying to follow our hearts and, most importantly, the Spirit’s leading. Now, here we are, just one step away from becoming an independent Methodist church. The upcoming special called meeting of the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference in May will make the final decision. Our two churches, Homestead and Dorton, and many others across middle Tennessee, west Tennessee, and western Kentucky will finally know the result of all the praying, discerning, and wrestling with the decision to disaffiliate. District Superintendent Donna Parramore, when asked the possibility of the conference not allowing these churches to disaffiliate, replied, “no chance of that happening.”

And, speaking of our wonderful district superintendent, she will conclude six wonderful years of service to the Caney Fork District this coming summer. While I cannot speak for everyone else, I can say that she has been totally supportive of our ministry. Matter of fact, I think I can safely say that, if not for her, we would not be at Homestead and Dorton. While she has not shared what her future plans are, I’m absolutely sure that God is not finished with her and He has a plan for her future, just like he does for each of us.

Finally, AWESOME APRIL is upon us! We have big events scheduled for each Sunday in the month. I believe this coming month will be an exciting time for our church. There is a fresh excitement in the air! Seeing some old faces return to our church, and welcoming new faces (including welcoming back our former pianist Maggie Burnett) has created a wonderful sense that God has big things in store for us in the future. Our March attendance average was the highest since before the “Big C” struck in March 2020. I believe it’s “onward and upward” from here. How about let’s all be inviting our friends, family, and neighbors to come out to Homestead and experience the excitement?