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!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

Here we go again! We were slowly beginning to get back into the swing of things throughout the summer. Wednesday Night Life Activities, such as our much-loved evening meal, our study of the book of Revelation, and the excitement of seeing our youth enthusiastically gathering for their activities brought joy to our hearts!

Then it happened! The “it” being Covid- rearing its ugly head to disrupt, not only our activities, but the activities of many surrounding churches and organizations. School attendance has suffered. Church attendance has suffered. Several have tested positive for Covid here in the church. And some have been very sick. Thanks be to God though- NO DEATHS! Still, the resurgence has caused a curtailment of some of our activities- hopefully only temporarily.

Our “Moving Forward” team has not met again, primarily due to Covid concerns. But we hope to schedule another meeting soon as we plan for the future. I was so impressed with the obvious thought given by so many in contributing ideas to “move forward.”

Fall has arrived! These cool mornings are a great time to reflect upon God’s goodness to us. Just to sit on the porch or deck with a hot cup of coffee at this time of year helps me, not only to plan, but also remember how blessed I am to be a part of God’s family!

Still there is much for us to pray about. Many in our churches are hurting for various reasons. Health needs, financial needs, and family situations are but a few of the needs represented here at Homestead Church. It behooves us all to make sure we spend time in prayer presenting our petitions before God. Let’s make a special effort during this trying time to make sure we call out the names of those we hold dear to our faithful God.

We also want to give a shout-out to our new pianist Sylvia Hewitt Schneider! She is doing a fantastic job. We are so fortunate that she agreed to come our way. Please encourage those who are not attending right now, for whatever reason, to come on back and hear this wonderfully talented lady!

In closing, I want to reminder you of a scripture that came up in my daily devotions the other day. I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Present ourselves as a living sacrifice – holy scripture tells us. Wow! Isn’t that a novel idea! And there’s a saying, attributed to 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody: “the problem with living sacrifice is that it crawls off the altar.” It’s often said, “showing up is half the battle.” Whether we’re talking about finding a job, making friends, staying married, or being the church – showing up is one of the most non-negotiable of ne-cessities. Showing up – body and soul – really is our spiritual worship. Worship only happens when we let God be God, and let God change our minds – transform our hearts – guide us, body, and soul, to where we actually can be non-conforming to the world as it is (this is not something we can do on our own) – and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Getting into the mind-set of Jesus is how we begin to know the will of God – the good, perfect, and beautiful will of God.

Transformation of our minds begins with showing up for God. As, and only as we show up for God, we are equipped to live into the rest of the gospel message. And it’s humbling, in a good and healthy way, to know that we struggle doing do faith alone. The New Testament’s descriptive term for church is “the body of Christ.” The body of Christ, where all of us are members of the one body and members of one another. No matter what our individual spiritual gifts may be, no member can ever fully function on our own. It’s only as we work together that the greater good can be accomplished in God’s kingdom. Remember, there is strength in numbers!

Happy Fall, Y’all! Pastor Tim

And Now For The Rest of The Story . . .

Have you been in suspense since last month’s newsletter? Today, we continue the story of David and Svea Flood- missionaries to the Belgian Congo- today known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (known from 1961-1997 as Zaire). As you remember where we ended last month, Svea Flood had passed away from malaria and the very difficult childbirth of baby Aina. As a result, David, weak and disheart-ened, rejected not only his calling, but God Himself. He left baby Aina in the care of another missionary couple- the Ericksons and returned to his native Sweden. That is where we begin this month. So here we go. The story continues. Once again, we’ll learn that God works in his mysterious ways to bring about his will in our lives!

Within eight months, both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. Baby Aina was then turned over to another American missionary family who changed her Swedish name to “Aggie”. Eventually they took her back to the United States at age three.

This family loved Aggie. Afraid that if they tried to return to Africa some legal obstacle might separate her from them, they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. That is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota.

As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married Dewey Hurst. Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful minis-try. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time, her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day she found a Swedish religious magazine in their mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she could not read the words, but as she turned the pages, a photo suddenly stopped her cold. There, in a primitive setting, was a grave with a white cross—and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD. Aggie got in her car and drove straight to a college faculty member whom she knew could translate the article. “What does this article say?”

The teacher shared a summary of the story. “It is about missionaries who went to N’dolera, Africa, long ago. A baby was born. The young mother died. One little African boy was led to Jesus before that. After the whites had all left, the boy, all grown up, finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. He gradually won all his students to Christ and the children led their parents to Him. Even the chief became a follower of Jesus! Today there are six hundred believers in that village, all because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.” Aggie was elated!

For the Hursts’ 25th wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. Aggie sought out her birth father. David Flood was an old man now. He had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God! God took everything from me!” After an emotional reunion with her half-brothers and half-sister, Aggie brought up the subject of her longing to see her father. They hesitated….

“You can talk to him, but he’s very ill now. You need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.” Aggie walked into the squalid apartment, which had liquor bottles strewn everywhere, and slowly approached her 73-year-old father lying in a rumpled bed.

“Papa,” she said tentatively.

He turned and began to cry. “Aina!” “I never meant to give you away!”

“It’s all right, Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took good care of me.”

Her father instantly stiffened and his tears stopped. “God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.”

He turned his face back to the wall. Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted. “Papa, I’ve got a marvelous story to tell you!” “You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus! The one seed you planted in his heart kept growing and growing! Today there are 600 people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life!”

“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you or abandoned us.” The old father turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He slowly began to talk.

And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many years. Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. A few weeks after Aggie and her husband returned to America, David Flood died. And a few years later….

Aggie and her husband were attending an evangelism conference in London, England, when a report was given from Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers,
spoke eloquently of the Gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.

“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words being translated into English. “Svea Flood led me to Jesus Christ! I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day, your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.” He embraced Aggie for a long time, sobbing.

“You must come to Zaire! Your mother is the most famous and honored person in our history.”

When Aggie and her husband went to N’dolera, they were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. Aggie even met the man who had been hired by her father to carry her down the mountain in a hammock-cradle. Then the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s tomb with a white cross bearing her name. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks to God.
Later that day, in the church, the boy turned pastor read….

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5

It’s Summer !

Here we are…SUMMER AGAIN! The dog days of summer are upon us. Slowly, slowly, I think we are getting back to normal. But, that said, we’re also in the slower activities of summer. Schools out! Family vacations begin. Activities slow and the temperature rises. Thankfully though, our Wednesday Night Live is back on and hopefully we’ll be gathering once again for food and fellowship!

Since we’ve hit the slow days of summer, I wanted to share a story with you that was shared with me recently. I think we can all agree that as followers of Christ, sometimes it feels like we’re “treading water.” It’s so easy to feel like nobody responds to our invites to attend church with us. No one is interested in our offers to lead them to Christ. It seems that the seeds we’re trying to sow fall on rocky, hard ground.

I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 3:6-9 about our seed sowings. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”

So many times, we feel that our efforts to spread the gospel are for naught. But why should we be surprised when evidently Paul, at times, felt the same as us?

But, after you read this, I believe you will agree with me that, even though many times our efforts seem fruitless, God is still moving and working in lives. Frankly, if this doesn’t build a fire under us, our wood is wet!

But here’s the catch! I’m going to share only half the story this month, and I’ll share the rest of the story next month. Where we end the story this month, will reflect the way we feel many times about our own efforts- dejected, sad, discouraged, and so on. But hang onto your hats. Next month, we’ll learn once again that God really knows what He is doing!

THOSE WHO SOW IN TEARS

In 1921 David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa, to what was then called the Belgian Congo. This missionary couple met up with the Ericksons, another young Scandinavian couple, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to set out from the main mission station to take the gospel to the village of N’dolera, a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. There, they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to build their own mud huts half a mile up the slope.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood—a tiny woman only four feet, eight inches tall—decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And she succeeded!

Meanwhile, malaria struck one member of the little missionary band after another. In time, the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to carry on alone.

Then, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery was exhausting. Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria so the birthing process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She died only 17 days after Aina was born.

Something snapped inside David Flood at that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his 27-year-old wife, and then went back down the mountain with his children to the mission station.

Giving baby Aina to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life!” With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God Himself.

(To be continued in the July Newsletter)

More To The Story

For the month of May, I thought I’d share with you a little information about the pastoral appointment process in the United Methodist Church. This process is hundreds of years in the making, and personally I feel it is one of the best, if not THE best, method of matching pastors and churches. Does it always work perfectly? Of course not! Why? Because the process, even though done by human beings under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, still is not mistake-proof. Obviously, I have only been a part of this process since 1997. But, for the most part, it has always worked well for me and the churches I’ve served. That said, we were happy this last month to receive the news that we have been appointed to Homestead and Dorton for at least another year. Here is the announcement that was shared with both churches.

“Bishop Bill McAlilly and the Nashville Area Cabinet of the Tennessee/Memphis Conferences worked prayerfully together to make missional appointments to every church in our Annual Conference. As Chairperson of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, I give thanks for the ministry of our pastor, Tim Lewis, who continues to be a servant leader among us and am happy to share that he/she will be returning as our pastor for the 2021/2022 conference year. “

While we are thrilled to receive this wonderful news, there is really more to the story. Earlier in April, we received the following information from the bishop and his cabinet concerning pastoral appointments. This gives a wonderful insight into the pastoral appointment process. But first, you may say, “who is this ‘cabinet,’ and what is their function?” The cabinet consists of all the district superintendents in the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference. So, the “cabinet” is evaluating hundreds of churches and pastors to make sure there is a good fit, and pastoral gifts are being utilized where they are most needed. So, as the late Paul Harvey would say, let’s hear “the rest of the story.”

This week, the Nashville Area Cabinet met to continue the work of the appointive cabinet for this conference year. We began by praying for each pastoral family and each congregation, seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We are far too mindful of our own human shortcomings as we do this work for we “see through a glass darkly.”

Still, it is the task for which we have been called and which we believe offers us the best opportunity to give the best leadership available to the congregations under our care. Over the last several weeks, District Superintendents have been in consultation with pastors and congregations seeking wisdom and understanding for the work that is before us. We ask for your prayers.

Perhaps you will recall reading the covenant around which we order our lives. The following excerpt relates to our appointive work:

Remember that we belong to the Annual Conference and, as so, our individual contribution to Cabinet Work is toward the economy of the whole. The mission of the Church is our first priority. In our appointive work, we hold these convictions in common and allow them to characterize our work:

• We cannot do enough consultation.

• It is better to make no appointment than to make the wrong appointment.

• We will only reward those who have been fruitful with the responsibility they have been given.

In all our work, we will maintain the practice and spirit of confidentiality by adopting the following practices:

• Hold all cabinet meeting conversations in strictest confidence unless/until permission is granted to share information with others.

• Hold all personal conversations between the bishop and cabinet members in strictest confidence unless/until permission is granted to share information with others.

• Ensure that Administrative Assistants hold conversations with the superintendents and communications between superintendents and episcopal office in strictest confidence.

• Embrace the most confidential use of technology for cabinet and district office communications.

Always during this season, I am reminded of God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.

From the beginning of the Methodist Movement, pastors have been sent. It is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the United Methodist Church. Since 1746 when John Wesley appointed lay preachers whom he called “helpers” to definitive circuits, we have followed this practice. I suspect that sometime in the future, this practice will be modified to address the changes in life patterns of 21st century people. Until then, we continue to practice the gift of itinerancy.

May each of you be a blessing in the places God has called you. Bishop McAlilly

Finally, this prayer was prayed after the reading of the announcement of our reappointment to Homestead and Dorton. Personally, I am deeply humbled when I hear this prayer each year. I hope and pray that you are as happy as Mrs. Preacher and me. Each year, I pray and seek God’s will as to whether or not to ask for reappointment or a move. God is not quite finished with us here. Someday, as we have said many times before, we will be gone, and “all good things must come to an end.” But, while we are here, let’s continue to work together “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Lord Jesus Christ, our Living Savior, we give you thanks for our church. It is a gift of grace to us. We are deeply grateful for the leadership of Tim Lewis, who will continue to serve us as pastor, teacher, leader, and friend in Christ. May your grace be upon him/her and his/her family, giving peace and joy and confidence as we begin the new conference year together. Open our hearts and minds to receive the gifts you have for us in these days as we give thanks for what has been and anticipate what will be. Our life is in you, O God, and through the Holy Spirit we pray this day. Amen

Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen INDEED!!!

The celebration of Easter is absolutely central to the life of the church and to faithful Christians. Why? Without the new life of Christ touching every aspect of who we are and what we do, we are simply going through religious motions, playing religious games, and puffing a religious veneer over lives that are just like anyone else’s. To live lives touched by the Resurrection means many things, but I’d like you to think about these two:

• It means that we live unafraid of death and all that it brings with it. Many live in such a way that they will do ANYTHING to avoid pain, aging, illness and death. They go to extraordinary lengths to deny the inevitability of it, fooling only themselves and a few select others who are in on the game. We use drugs to lessen the impact of what’s coming, or we choose inappropriate and (ultimately) damaging lifestyles, or we try to fool ourselves into acting or looking (sort of) much younger than we are, or we are simply paralyzed by fear into a kind of stupor that keeps us from doing or being anything.

• It also means that we live free from sin’s power. This is exactly what we have been preaching from Paul’s letter to the Roman church these past few months. Has some-one done something to you that still controls your heart and mind? Have you done something that has clouded or affected your whole life? Have you taken a road of temptation that leads only to damage to you and others? Have you allowed prejudice or fear to warp your heart so that you cannot love and forgive?

• Easter isn’t just about eggs, bunnies, hollow chocolate Easter bunnies, and dressing up. It’s about the new life we have in Christ, in which we are set free to love, forgive and serve, and thereby find a sense of peace and joy in all that we do. By grabbing hold of the cross, we share in Jesus’ victory over sin, death and all that would destroy us.