“A Father’s Day Prayer”

God of all creation, we thank you for the fathers and fatherly figures in our lives:

  • for those who raised and supported us unconditionally,
  • for those who have been the spiritual leaders of our homes,
  • for those who sacrificed their time to make sure we knew we were loved.

Bless them with Your eternal presence:

  • May they know your forgiveness and may they be able to forgive themselves when inevitably they fall short of being a “perfect” dad.
  • May they create the space needed to seek You in all of Your glory.
  • May they always be reminded that they are Your children and that You will never leave nor forsake them.

Mend their hurts and pains.  Take away their fears.  Restore their broken relationships.  Hold them gently in the palm of your hand. Draw them close to You and shower them daily with Your promises of hope and strength:

  • “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
  • “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
  • “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  • “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
  • “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

  Happy Father’s Day,     Pastor John  



“A Mother’s Day Prayer”

God of all creation, we thank you for the mothers and motherly figures in our lives:

  • those who gave us birth,
  • those who have been role models and spiritual leaders,
  • those who sacrificed so that we could feel loved and wanted.

Bless them with a peace that passes all understanding. Bless them with a patient heart. Bless them with a joy that is as bright as a noonday sun and as pleasant as a refreshing rain. Bless them with an unconditional love that is constantly reminding them that they are Your precious child and the apple of Your eye. Mend their hurts and pains.  Take away their fears.  Restore their broken relationships.  Hold them gently in the palm of your hand. Draw them closer to You and shower them daily with Your promises:

  • “‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. . . . Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’” (Matthew 6:25-26)
  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
  • “‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
  • “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted.” (Isaiah 66:13)

  Happy Mother’s Day, Pastor John  



“A Truly Unique Experience”

I hope you can join us for an amazing and truly unique experience on Sunday, April 14 at 5 p.m. as we celebrate the Last Supper with a presentation from Hope for Israel.  In this 90 minute sit down everybody will be able to taste the different elements of a traditional Passover Seder and hear how the purpose of this meal was fulfilled through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Our speaker will be Guillermo (Bill) Katz.  Bill is a Jewish believer in Jesus who was born and raised in Argentina.  After giving His life to Jesus in 1985 he became an emissary of the Gospel in places like Chicago, South Florida and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1990 with a B.A. in Jewish and Modern Israel Studies and form the School of World Missions at Fuller Seminary, having received his M.A. in Missions.  He is currently pursuing his D. Min. in Educational Ministries in Global Missions at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY and actively serves as a member at Sagemont Church in Houston, TX. Hope for Israel is a discipleship and service-oriented ministry in the heart of Jerusalem whose main aim is to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel.  They are a dedicated team of Jewish and Gentile believers working together to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Body of Christ, and the Israeli people as a whole. Some of Hope for Israel’s work includes:

  • Discipling through a vibrant 3-Fold vision for the young people of Israel.
  • Providing relief aid to Israelis during times of war, regardless of background and bringing peace and quiet to those whose lives have been disrupted due to war, through practical acts of mercy.
  • Initiating two massive food distribution projects a year, and helping families with groceries as the need arises.
  • Actively reaching out to their Arab brothers and sisters in Israel who love Jesus and suffer greatly for their faith.

In order for us to have enough food for tasting, please get your free tickets online at www.thelordssupper.eventbrite.com or RSVP to the church office.  A free-will offering will be collected for the ministries of Hope for Israel.  In Christ’s Peace, Pastor John



“Moving Forward”

For the past two-and-a-half years Faith UMC has been on a journey sponsored by The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church called “Fruitful Congregations.”  As a result of this journey our church has set forth and adopted the guidelines that you will find below.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to ignite and saturate our church as we move forward in accomplishing the tasks set before us. In Christ’s Peace,

Pastor John
 

The Mission of Faith UMC is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The Vision of Faith UMC is to become like the Good Shepherd for the children and families entrusted to our care. In our community . . .

  • 57% of homes do not have a faith community (MissionInsight, 2017);
  • single parents raise children with little support;
  • blended families struggle with unique circumstances;
  • children are being abandoned, left to make their own way in life;
  • still others are dealing with societal challenges such as addictions, human trafficking, incarceration,

       and abuse. These families and children are the lost sheep, desperately in need to be found and brought into the loving arms of Jesus Christ.  It is our responsibility to shepherd them so that they might be transformed by the precious love of our Savior and experience the joy of His unconditional love. The Three Year Objectives of Faith UMC include the following:

  1. Sunday mornings will have more families with children, with at least 25 of those families coming from our Kingdom Kids Early Learning Center.
  2. All family ministries at Faith including Kingdom Kids will have an overabundance of volunteers to fulfill program and ministry needs.
  3. We will have discipleship opportunities for all ages, including opportunities for families with children.
  4. There will be a family needs coordinator paid or unpaid, and a team that is focused on helping families based on our mission and vision.
  5. Our church’s management systems (facilities, communication, etc.) will be in place and functioning in an efficient, effective way.

 



“A Special Session of the General Conference”

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church is the top policy-making body of our denomination.  It meets every four years and for the past several decades the issue of human sexuality has been an agenda item brought up for discussion.  Our official stance includes the following: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.  We affirm that God’s grace is available to all.  We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends.  We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons” (The Book of Discipline, 2016, par 161G).

Because this particular issue continues to be discussed at General Conference, a Special Session was called for and will be held February 23-26, 2019 in  St. Louis.  The sole purpose of this Conference will be to try and strengthen the unity of our denomination on the subject of human sexuality.

To help this process along, a report will be presented and acted upon.  It was developed by a 32-member commission authorized by the General Conference of 2016 and appointed by the Council of Bishops.  The report and other information regarding this Special Session of General Conference can be found at http://www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2019-special-session.

Nobody knows for sure what the outcome of this General Conference will be.  My suggestion is to pray that God’s will be done and to not over-react when the media starts covering this Conference in February.  Typically, the loudest voices are the ones that make the news, regardless if they coincide with what is actually going on.

If you have any questions and/or concerns about this “Special Session of the General Conference” feel free to contact me.  However, I am not a voting member.  The Indiana Conference will be sending our 2016 General Conference delegates made up of 8 clergy and 8 laity.

In Christ’s Peace,

Pastor John

 



“A New Year’s Poem of Gratitude”

Dear Jesus,

 

Thank you!

Thank you for being the “word” that comforted my mother on the day I was born;

And for my baptism, a baptism that spoke of a blood that would cover my scorn.

Thank you for being the inspiration that caused my dad to smile;

As he held me in his arms for the longest while.

 

For two souls who were born in the year 1970,

Two pairs of eyes and two strong hearts;

That would one day meet and make a new start.

Thank you for being there on our wedding day;

And for blessing our vows and the words we would say.

 

Thank you for Luke, Olivia, Gabby and Emma;

They are 15, 17, 19 and 21,

Three beautiful girls and a handsome son.

They are gifts from above and never a bore;

Although I’m glad we stopped at four.

 

Thank you for that Friday, which for some reason we call Good;

An old rugged cross, upon Golgotha it stood.

Beaten beyond comprehension, your body there hung.

I can’t even imagine how those nails must have stung.

 

Thank you for bearing the sins of the world;

Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth.

And for the three dark days you laid buried under a cloth.

 

How the angels in Heaven must have been silent,

As they remembered that day not too long ago,

When to Bethlehem in Judea they were called to go;

To announce to some shepherds living in a field,

That the world’s Savior had come and He was ready to build,

For them and for all a Kingdom, a Kingdom of love, truth and light.

 

But from their thoughts and memories they were brought to the present,

For Sunday had dawned and your lungs, they began to fill with air;

And as Satan watched from afar he surely found it unfair;

That your Father would find a way, a path, a song of Amazing Grace;

That not only His Son, but that all who would believe should see His face.

 

For “when we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we’d first begun.”

 

And so I sing your praise today;

As a new year begins and an old one drifts away,

For the sacrifice you gave and for the love that is ever new,

From the depths of my heart and from the bottom of my soul,

I just wanted to say, thank you!
 
-Pastor John


“Nothing Will Be Impossible”

Several years ago Max Lucado wrote a book entitled “And the Angels Were Silent.”  It was about the last week of Jesus’ life and how as the angels watched Christ being crucified they were speechless.  That’s quite a different picture than the one we have at his birth.   Imagine viewing Jesus’ birth from the viewpoint of the angels.  In Luke 2:13-14 it tells us, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”   Or, consider the archangel Gabriel.  Gabriel had stood in the presence of God Almighty.  He had seen God’s perfection.  He had heard God’s thundering voice.  He knew of God’s all surpassing power and might.  Yet, on a starry night in Bethlehem he witnessed the God of the universe give up His Heavenly home to become a tiny, fragile, beautiful baby boy.  What an amazing sight that must have been.  It was so amazing in fact that Gabriel had earlier confessed to Mary that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NRSV).   Think about those words from Gabriel for a moment.     

  • He has made the blind to see. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • He has made the lame to walk. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • He has healed broken marriages and restored the broken bond between father and son. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • He has set the captives free and saved us from our sin. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • On the first Christmas morning God became Immanuel, which means “God with us.” “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

  My prayer this Christmas season is that we will find hope, joy, love and peace in the promise of Gabriel’s words.  “For nothing will be impossible with God.”   Merry Christmas, Pastor John



“Let the Holidays Begin”

The chill of autumn is definitely in the air.  There is frost on the pumpkin, the trees are losing their leaves, football is well under way and the holiday season is almost upon us.   For many, the holidays begin with the ritual of giving or receiving bite sized candies for Halloween.  Within the church, the holiday season has historically begun with the celebration of All Saints Day.  Sure, we might have our “Trunk or Treats,” “Harvest Parties,” or “Boo Bashes,” but those really aren’t Christian celebrations.  They are alternatives to the secular traditions of Halloween.  All Saints Day, on the other hand, is a unique celebration where the church remembers those Christ followers who have gone to be with the Lord. In the New Testament, a “saint” was any Christian past or present.  In other words, you didn’t have to be a super Christian to be a saint.  You simply had to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  For instance, in the book of Romans Paul addresses all the believers of that city as “saints.”  “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7, MEV). This November 1 put away the ghost stories and remember the real lives of those special people who touched your life with the love of Jesus Christ.  Light a candle in their memory.  Place a flower on their headstone.  Read their favorite Bible verse.  Sing their favorite hymn or praise song.  Tell their faith story to someone else! The following is a prayer from Discipleship Ministries of The UMC written by Safiyah Fosua.

We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you

Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals,

Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses

Where your name was lifted and adored.

 

We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise:

Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,

Strong hands and those gnarled with age

Holy hands

Used as wave offerings across the land.

 

We thank you, God, for hardworking saints;

Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted,

Head ragged or aproned,

Blue-collared or three-piece-suited

They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.

 

Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.

Bless the memories of your saints, God.

May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.

 

Have a Blessed All Saints Day, Pastor John



“Jesus’ Plan of Reaching the World”

It was in Bethlehem that the Son of God was born.  He was born a tiny baby in a tiny manger in a tiny town.  That boy Jesus grew up and became a man.  At the age of thirty He chose twelve disciples and began His public ministry.
 
For three years Jesus preached, taught, and healed.  Large crowds, sometimes in the thousands, gathered around Him.  The scriptures tell us that after His death and resurrection He walked this earth for another forty days continuing His earthly ministry.  Yet surprisingly, even after all of that, His earthly ministry only yielded about one hundred and twenty believers.  You could have literally fit every single one of them into our chapel here at Faith UMC.
 
But the thing we have to remember is that it was never Jesus’ plan to reach the entire world through those three plus years of public ministry.  In John 17:6, 18-21 Jesus is praying to His Heavenly Father and this is what He says, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

 

You see, it is through the message of Christ’s followers that the world will believe in Him.  We are His voice.  We are His P.R. representatives.  We are His hands and we are His feet.  It was Jesus who gave His life for us and now we are called to share and live that message so that the world will know and believe.

 

In Christ’s Peace,                           Pastor John         



“Welcoming People Isn’t Enough”

A few years ago the father of SPC Joshua L. Omvig spoke before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His concern was the way we as a country bring back our troops and assimilate them into civilian life.  Here is part of his speech, “Josh’s company went from Iraq to Thanksgiving dinner with their families in less than a week.  One or two weeks of decompression or defusing is not enough.  This however, is more the rule than the exception.  A few days later Josh was back to his civilian job.  There was no one around for him to talk over things with.  After a week or two of being home reality starts to set in, things are not the same . . . The first counseling Josh’s company had came at the first drill after Josh’s (suicide).” I don’t know the whole story, but I can picture Josh’s return from Iraq as a grand event.  My guess is that the whole town came out to “welcome” him home.  But in situations such as war, being “welcomed” is not enough.  Soldiers also need such people as counselors, chaplains and peer groups to help them deal with the emotional and psychological effects of serving in our military. The same is true with the church.  Because we are in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil, “welcoming” people in the name of Jesus Christ is not enough.  We must also be willing to train, prepare and equip them with the tools for victory.  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”(2 Cor 10:3-4). One of the things I would like for us as a church to work on is becoming a congregation that not only welcomes people, but assimilates them into our fellowship, our study of the Scriptures, and our works of service.  Here are some simple ways we can do this. 1) Inviting people to church is only the first step.  We also need to invite them to Sunday School, a small group, as well as to other studies of learning. 2) If you see someone you don’t know on Sunday morning, don’t be shy.  Ask them how long they have been coming, and if they are new then introduce them to at least one or two other people.  Ideally, introduce them to people who they might naturally associate with.  For instance, if they have children introduce them to a church member with children.  Or, if they like music introduce them to one of our talented musicians. 3) Read your newsletter, bulletin and weekly e-mail thoroughly so that you can tell others what is going on at our church.  You may not be a teenager, but would you be able to tell a new family what our youth are doing?  If a mother is looking for a small group, would you be able to direct her in the right direction?  Sure, it takes a little time and commitment to read such things as the bulletin and newsletter, but I think you’ll find that it is worth it. God Bless, Pastor John  



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