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

How Comforting!

“March winds bring April showers. April showers bring May flowers.” Do you remember this old saying? I’m sure you older folks remember. But are you like me? Our weather patterns of late seem to be “catty-wampus,” don’t they? It seems our March winds came a little earlier than our old saying said they should. I believe the February winds are what we normally get in March. Oh well, I’m reminded of something my daddy used to say when I would complain about rain or wind or too hot or too cold. “There’s nothing you can do about the weather.” So, true, isn’t it?

What does all this talk of wind have to do anything, you ask? It got me to thinking about the Holy Spirit. Do you remember Acts 2:2? And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. What does that rushing mighty wind symbolize? You already know the answer to that question. Frankly, we find the answer just two verses later. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

I have to be honest with you, my dear friends. I’m just not sure how I could go on without the Holy Spirit in my life. Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” It is hard to find words to describe the comfort that comes from the Holy Spirit. I am so glad that Jesus asked His Father to give us the Comforter, aren’t you?

The winds of spring should remind us of the rushing, mighty, windy, power of the Holy Spirit that blows and flows through our lives like rivers of living water. How comforting is the thought that with all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the Holy Spirit to bring peace in these troubling times!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Get Busy With the Lord

Do you remember studying fractions in school? I remember teaching fractions in third and fourth grade. Back then, basic fractions were introduced in third grade. By the time the students were in fourth grade, they were hitting fractions hard. However, by the time I retired from teaching first grade, we were already introducing the basic fractions to first graders. Wow!

I can imagine about this time, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘What do fractions have to do with Homestead United Methodist Church, pray tell Preacher Tim?”  Let’s think about the fraction 1/12. Yes, you read that correctly- 1/12th. Do you realize we are 1/12th through the year 2022? Yes, it is true. Twelve months in the year and one is already gone. What did we do for God and his kingdom in the month if January?

“Sure snowed a lot in January!”   “Bad weather all month, Pastor.”  “Just afraid to get out in the weather there, Preacher!”

Uh oh! “He’s fussing at us again.”  Frankly, maybe I’m fussing at myself as your pastor. A little self-examination from time to time is good for one, isn’t it? Even for us pastors! Maybe it’s good for us all, pastor and parishioner alike, to stop and examine our walk with the Lord.  During the slower days of winter, some of which we may not be able to get out of the house, maybe it’s advantageous to do a little self-examination. Even though I may have been stuck in the house, did I call our shut-ins to check on them? Did I send a card or letter to our young friend in Africa? What about this time of year being a wonderful time for Bible study and prayer?

You see, there are lots of worthwhile things we can do during the dark days of winter. Perhaps during that prayer and self-examination time, we can ask God what He would like for us to be doing. I’m reminded that In John 16:24, Jesus stated, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete”. Have we asked God what He would have us do? Jesus said if we would do that, we would get our answer. Certainly, we want joy in our lives, don’t we? Well, Jesus gave us one of the ways we can have more joy.

But what about that 1/12th fraction we talked about earlier? Do you know remember the opposite? I’ll bet you do. The opposite of 1/12th is 11/12th. Putting them together makes ONE WHOLE. One whole year- 2022. In other words, even if we did not do one single solitary thing to enhance God’s kingdom in the month of January, we still have eleven more months to get busy for the Lord!

I wish you God’s blessings in February and on through 2022 as you seek the will of God in your life in spreading the Good News of God and His kingdom!

Christmas Means a Little Bit More!

I heard someone say the other day, “Well, another Christmas has come and gone.” Frankly, I was a bit perplexed by that remark, and I really didn’t know what to say in reaction to it. Yes, December 25th as the date we celebrate Christmas is past. But is Christmas really gone?

Now you know two of my favorite Christmas classics are “The Grinch” movies and “The Scrooge” movies, (yes, there are more than one of each). Before you get all upset with me thinking, “he’s being Grinchy and Scroogy again,” let me remind you that both of those classics have happy endings that are very, very Christmassy.

But as I’ve reflected on the original remark about another Christmas come and gone, I remember something the Grinch said. As I recall, he said something like this, “Maybe Christmas, he thought…..doesn’t come from a store, may Christmas, perhaps…..means a little bit more!”

Did you catch that? Most of you already know how I feel about the commercial aspect of Christmas. Frankly, for many years, I’ve griped about the fact that so much of the world puts way too much emphasis on it and not enough emphasis on the real “reason for the season.”

Now, as I said, I really was caught off guard by the original statement about Christmas having “come and gone.” Did he mean the commercial side of Christmas or celebrating Jesus and his birth, life, and death on the cross? I certainly hope it’s the former! Knowing that “hindsight is clearer than foresight,” I wish I had asked. If he meant the former, then yes, I’d have to agree with him. But if he meant the latter, then I must whole-heartedly disagree.

You see, Jesus Christ is to be celebrated every day- 365 days a year, not just in the days and weeks leading up to and on December 25th. Jesus IS the reason for the season. But He is also the reason for our existence. God created man in His own image to love Him and worship Him. When man fell because of his sin, God in His love, mercy, and grace, made a way for us to be reconciled to Him and receive forgiveness for our sins.

That WAY is Jesus Christ! Jesus Himself said in response to the disciple Thomas, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

If we are to be reconciled to God the Father, we can only do it through Jesus Christ the son! My dear friends and loved ones, let us please not leave Christmas behind in our rear-view mirrors. Let’s celebrate Jesus every day!

May 2022 be a blessed year for us all through God the Father, Jesus Christ the son, and the sweet Holy Spirit of God as our guide and comfort!

Pastor Tim

The Nitty Gritty

Advent, Holly, Poinsettias, Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Yule, Christmas, Trees, Wise Men, Shepherds, on and on we could go! The words and phrases of the Holiday season. We throw them around wil-ly-nilly without really giving much serious thought to them. Each one may have some special meaning to us. They all may have special meaning to us! But when we really get down to the nitty gritty, what is the real meaning of Christmas? The answer to that question, obviously… this is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Christ. Who knows if Christ was really born on December 25th? That’s only one of 365 days in our present calendar.

Furthermore, we operate under a different calendar than those who lived in Jesus’ time. My gut feeling, and from all that I can gather, the birth of Christ more likely occurred in the spring of the year- more like our present month of April. Still, does it really matter that we do not know the exact date or the exact time of year? I don’t really think so. What does matter then? What about adding some more words and phrases to our holiday celebrations? Can you think of some? What about honor, revere, esteem, respect and many others that cause us to think about the meaning of Christmas?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the celebrations, that we forget, or at least let it slide unto the background, the real meaning of Christmas. I think back in times past, so many of our ancestors did not have the means to celebrate Christmas like we do today. The food, the gifts, the decorations, and so many more of the “trappings of modern-day Christmas were most likely not a part of our ancestors’ Christmas celebrations. many of you are not users of the social media plat-form Facebook. But on Thanksgiving Day 2021, as we awaited the arrival of our loved one for our traditional Thanksgiving meal, I was led to write some thoughts from my own personal family history. Since many of you did not get to read my post, I thought I would share it here in my monthly pastor’s article for the Homestead newsletter.

“Benjamin and I are here at the parsonage by ourselves today. Mrs. Preacher (Teresa) is working on this Thanksgiving. The house will be jam packed later this evening when the entire family gathers. We are cooking, cleaning, watching Christmas videos on YouTube, and counting our bless-ings. As we say every Sunday at the end of our worship services, God is Good…All the Time. We may not always understand at that particular “time.” But I firmly “believe that “all things work to-gether for good to those who love God.”

So, I have just been thinking about the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas, of the year 1936. Eighty-five years ago, a little widow 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 have 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 of 1936, you ask? June 26, 1936- her 41st birthday, she lost her mother-in-law. Two weeks later, July 8, 1936, she lost her mother. The next day, July 9th, as the family gathered 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 through the car window to its 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 senseless. He would pass away the following February of 1937, never having fully recovered from being struck.

Skipping ahead a few months, here come the holidays. Eight children 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 this little widow lady was? She was my “tough as nails” little grandmother. To me and twenty-nine 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, so 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 husband. So, during this holiday season 2021, I choose to count my blessings that I have clothes to wear, shoes on my feet, a warm house, food to eat, a wonderful family, TWO wonderful church families, and lots of friends. I am blessed.

I have preached eight funerals so far this year. Some dear friends are missing their loved ones during this holiday season. Brother Nelson and sister-in-law Doris left us for their heavenly home last February. There is just brother Bethel and me left on this earthly plain. Homer Jr, Garry, Basil, and Nelson have joined our and parents and loved ones in heaven. I shared at the funeral I preached Tuesday, with each passing year, there are more of “my people” in heaven than there are here. Who knows what this next year will bring? But this much I know. God is Good…All the Time! Enjoy the holidays! Hug them a little tighter! Benjamin and I (and Mrs. Preacher too) love you all!”

How about this holiday season, let us put a little more emphasis on how blessed we really are! Jesus Christ, our Savior, was born in Bethlehem, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross that we could be saved from our sins. And John 10:10 shares with us some particularly important words from Jesus Himself. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” We are living that abundant life, dear friends! It may not be a life of luxury, wealth, and “stuff,” but if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, it is an abundant life filled with the joys being a Christian. And what better time than now to enjoy that abundant life found in Christ!

From your parsonage family, we wish you a warm, spirit-filled Christmas season! Mrs. Preacher, Benjamin, and I love you all!

Be Thankful

NOVEMBER! The month to be thankful! Really? November is the only month to be thankful? But you say, “Pastor, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of this month. Shouldn’t we be thankful on Thanksgiving?”

Yes, of course! We should be thankful on Thanksgiving. But here is a novel idea. How about being thankful every day of the year! Not just on Thanksgiving. Yes, I am talking about 365 days a year. When we say grace over the food we eat, aren’t we expressing thanks? When we pray our offertory prayer each Sunday upon the receiving of the tithes and offerings, aren’t we being thankful? Now you know, on and on I could go with the many ways we can and should express our thanks. I am just saying we should try our best to make it an every day “thing” to, not only be thankful in our hearts, but to thank God verbally for all the good things He brings into our lives.

But what does the Bible say about being thankful? One of my very favorite verses about being thankful comes from First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? Give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and our mouths.

Is that an easy task to accomplish? Not always! Maybe sometimes it’s easy. Especially when life is going good- when life isn’t throwing up roadblocks to hinder our journey. But not so easy when life jumps up and kicks us in the teeth, huh? Still, the Apostle Paul, writing to those in the Thessalonian church, doesn’t give much wiggle room, does he? Remember he said, “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.” It’s hard to give thanks when our loved are dying of some incurable disease- when the doctor has said, “There is nothing else we can do.” And that’s only one of the circumstances that can make it so difficult to be thankful.
So, I’m sure the next question, naturally, is “how can I be thankful in such a circumstance?” Please notice how I worded that last sentence. “How can I be thankful IN such a circumstance?” I think that is the key to thankfulness. There are going to be times in life when it gets exceedingly difficult to face another day. Aren’t you happy that God shows us grace? I realize that we throw that beautiful old Methodist word “grace” around willy-nilly sometimes. And I further know that it’s not really exclusively “an old Methodist word.’ But we Methodists put great stock in God’s grace- as we should. For it is grace that enables us to be thankful IN ALL circumstances, not necessarily FOR ALL circumstances.

What did our old friend John Wesley have to say about grace? Wesley said of grace, “This is the divine love of God that surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses and actions.” In other words, one of the ways God’s grace affects us is that, even when we do not feel very thankful, we still can be thankful IN our circumstances, even though we might not be thankful FOR our circumstances.
We also have many scriptural examples of being thankful in the midst of hard circumstances. Psalm 28, for instance, depicts David’s distress. It is a cry to God for mercy, protection, and justice. After David cries out to God, he writes, “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:6-7). In the midst of hardship, David remembers who God is and, as a result of knowing and trusting God, gives thanks.

We have been preaching from the book of Job during the month of October. Our old friend Job had a similar attitude of praise, even in the face of death: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). Surely few of us have suffered the circumstances in which Job found himself.

Let us remember that we should be thankful every day of the year- not just on Thanksgiving! And let us be thankful- even IN the midst of all our circumstances- both good and bad.

Your pastoral family wishes you a wonderful Thanksgiving! And, if you have no family or friends in the area to celebrate with, you are always welcome at the parsonage Thanksgiving table! All you have to do is let us know. We’ll put an extra potato in the pot!