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It's Graduation Season, But Don't Leave These 5 Things Behind

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The warm summer sun shines on a field of caps and gowns. Crowds cheer after each name is called. You step to the edge of the stage, waiting for your name to be called. A handshake and diploma are the only things between you and finally being done with school. For many of us, graduation day happened a long time ago or not at all. Yet we all know the feeling of ending one part of our lives and starting the next. No matter what stage of life we’re in, we’ve got to sort through the commitments we hold, just like we sorted through our clothes and belongings before moving to college or starting a new job. It seems we are always graduating from one season of life to the next. But no matter how much change we face, there's always something we must hold on to. 5 Things You'll Never Graduate From 1. Loving God You can never reach the point where you’ve loved God enough. Loving Him is about obeying Him, and it’s directly connected to how we love the people around us (1 John 4:7-12). So when we fail to do what He says, or when we fail to love people, we know there’s room for improvement. This is why Jesus came to earth: to meet us in the midst of our failures and connect us to God. And the more we know Him, the better we can follow Him. 2. Reading the Bible The moment you think you don’t need the Bible is the moment you’ll need it most. Neglecting to read the Bible is like seeing your iPhone ringing from a friend but not answering the call. God wants to talk to us, and the Bible is a primary way He communicates with us. There’s so much useful, life-changing truth in the Bible, and we learn more about Jesus when we read it. Once you’ve read the entire Bible, read it again, memorize particular verses and help others understand the Bible as well.  3. Giving We can never outgive God. God is amazingly generous. Since all our money and resources belong to Him, we can manage them with the same generosity God does. We start by bringing 10 percent of our income back to God, and we give more to Him as an act of trust that He will provide for our needs and beyond what we expect (Philippians 4:19). 4. Needing Other People You will always need to do life with other people. Friendship with other Christians is essential because God’s made us to connect with other people and with Him (Hebrews 10:23-25). Other people help you face difficult challenges, gain better perspective, and grow in maturity as you learn to look out for their interests, not just your own. (Find your people and make new friends by joining a Group.) 5. Taking Your Next Step Never trick yourself by thinking you’ve arrived. If you’re not dead, God’s not done. We always have a next step in our walk with Jesus. It’s how God helps us grow into the people He’s designed us to be. As we become more like Jesus, we help others know God and grow in their faith (Hebrews 5:12-15). God will give us the direction we need, because He’s looking out for us and wants amazing things for our lives.

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Finding Your Purpose in the Darkness

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Have you ever found yourself asking the question, "Why am I here?" It's a question that can arise during times of uncertainty, when we're faced with difficult decisions or struggling to find our way forward. In those moments, it can feel like we're stumbling around in the dark, grasping for answers that seem just out of reach.But what if we told you that God meets us in that darkness? That He welcomes our questions, our doubts, and our fears, and is ready to guide us towards a new understanding of our purpose?The story of Nicodemus in the Gospel of John illustrates this beautifully. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus under the cover of night, seeking answers to the questions that weighed on his heart. He was searching for truth, but was limited by his own understanding of what was possible.Jesus met Nicodemus where he was, in the darkness of his doubts and questions. He didn't turn him away or demand that he come back when he had it all figured out. Instead, He engaged with Nicodemus, challenging his assumptions and inviting him to see things in a new light.And that's exactly what God does for us when we come to Him with our own questions and uncertainties. He meets us in the darkness, ready to guide us towards a new understanding of our purpose and our place in the world.So often, we approach God with a fixed idea of what is possible and what isn't. We think we know exactly how things are supposed to be, and we expect God to work within those limitations. But just as Jesus challenged Nicodemus to expand his understanding, God invites us to let go of our preconceived notions and open ourselves up to new possibilities.Through prayer and conversation with God, we can begin to see our lives and our purpose in a new light. We can start to understand that our gifts, our talents, and even our challenges and struggles can all be used for God's glory, if we're willing to trust in Him and follow where He leads.It's not always easy to take that step of faith, to let go of what we think we know and trust in God's plan for our lives. Fear, anxiety, and doubt can hold us back, keeping us stuck in the darkness of uncertainty.But the good news is that the darkness won't last forever. As we continue to seek God's guidance and open ourselves up to His leading, a new dawn begins to break. We start to see glimmers of hope and purpose, even in the midst of our struggles and challenges.And as we step out in faith, following the path that God has set before us, we begin to experience the fullness of life that He promises. We discover that our lives have meaning and value, and that we each have a unique role to play in His grand design.So if you find yourself asking the question, "Why am I here?" know that you're not alone. Know that God is ready to meet you in the darkness of your doubts and fears, and guide you towards a new understanding of your purpose.Take the time to pray, to listen for God's voice, and to seek the guidance of others who can help you discern His will for your life. And trust that as you step out in faith, God will be with you every step of the way, leading you towards the light of a new dawn and a renewed sense of purpose.Remember, no matter where you are in life, no matter what challenges you're facing, God can use you. He has a purpose for you, and He's ready to reveal it to you, if you're willing to seek Him in the darkness and trust in His guiding light.So don't be afraid to ask the big questions, to grapple with your doubts and fears, and to step out in faith. You never know where God might lead you, or what amazing things He might have in store for your life. All you need is a willingness to trust in Him, and to follow where He leads.

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10 Promises For Easter

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Without Easter, the Bible would be useless. Our whole faith and the power behind everything we believe and teach are wrapped up in the fact that Jesus died, then rose from the grave. Without a resurrection, Jesus would have been another good intentioned individual cut down in His prime. But Easter did happen, and because of that, we can place our trust in God’s promises. Jesus overcame death and established Himself as having authority over all things. That means, when Jesus makes a promise, we can believe Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). 10 Promises That Are True Because the Resurrection Happened 1. I won’t die.  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36). 2. I don’t have to be a slave to sin.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).  3. I am a new creation.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  4. I don’t have to fear.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).  5. I don’t have to worry.  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  6. God wants good things for me.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) 7. I am not alone.  “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 8. God wants to hear my requests.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  9. One day all things will be made right.  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).  10. God loves me.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  All of these promises may seem hard to believe. The good news is the one who promised has proven Himself trustworthy. Every Easter, we are reminded that nothing is too big for God to handle, and nothing can keep Him from us. The greatest promise of all: Even though we should be eternally separated from God, Jesus came to Earth and gave His life up to bridge the gap between us and God. Jesus chose to reconcile all of us who believe and He was willing to face death and suffering to do so. This Easter, let's celebrate like we have a God that refused to leave us on our own. He is a God of great promises, a God who is faithful. 

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Distance Can't Dull the Joy: Easter Ideas for Long-Distance Loved Ones

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

To infuse joy into your loved ones' Easter celebration, consider creating an "Egg Hunt in a Box." Start by decorating eggs, filling them with goodies, and adding a heartfelt note. Pack these surprises carefully into a festively adorned box. Ship this delightful package to your loved ones, and upon arrival, the excitement begins! Parents or caregivers can hide the eggs around the home or yard, enhancing the fun with clues to uncover the hidden treasures. Staying Connected Beyond the Egg Hunt: While the egg hunt is a fantastic Easter activity, there are numerous ways to stay connected with your loved ones: Egg Hunt in a Box: To infuse joy into your loved ones' Easter celebration, consider creating an "Egg Hunt in a Box." Start by decorating eggs, filling them with goodies, and adding a heartfelt note. Pack these surprises carefully into a festively adorned box. Ship this delightful package to your loved ones, and upon arrival, the excitement begins! Parents or caregivers can hide the eggs around the home or yard, enhancing the fun with clues to uncover the hidden treasures. Video Call Wishes: Schedule a video call to wish them a happy Easter. Suggested conversation topics include: Favorite Easter memories: Share your cherished Easter moments and ask them about theirs. Easter traditions: Discuss family traditions, both old and new. Show and tell: Have them share their Easter crafts or stories with you. Easter Care Package: Send a thoughtfully curated Easter-themed care package filled with treats, small gifts, and perhaps a personalized card. It's a tangible expression of love from afar. Virtual Storytime: Share the joy of Easter by reading them an Easter story over the phone. Suggested story time topics include: Easter traditions and stories: Share classic Easter tales or family stories related to the holiday. Faith-based stories: If applicable, consider sharing stories that incorporate the story of Jesus' death and resurrection so that they receive the true meaning of Easter and the hope that it brings. The following books by author Glenys Nellist are so helpful in sharing the Easter story in imaginative and bite sized ways that are perfect for virtual story time.Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys NellistEaster Love Letters From God by Glenys Nellist No matter the physical distance, you can make this Easter a cherished memory for the special children in your life. The Egg Hunt in a Box is just one example of how creativity can bridge the miles. Remember, these moments matter, and with a little effort, you can create lasting memories that will be treasured for a lifetime. Stay in Touch Long After Easter is Done: To continue fostering a strong connection, we encourage you to explore these ideas and find what works best for you and your loved ones. Stay updated with their lives by scheduling regular calls, sending surprise messages, and embracing other creative ways to share love and laughter. Create Easter Magic Now! Add a special touch to this Easter by creating an Egg Hunt in a Box and exploring other ways to stay connected. Click below to discover more ideas and make this Easter unforgettable for the special children in your life!

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Living as True Image Bearers: Embracing God's Image Within

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

In a world often clouded by superficial judgments and fleeting values, it is essential to remember the inherent worth that lies within each of us, a worth bestowed by a higher power. The idea of humanity being crafted in the image of God is not merely a religious assertion but a powerful affirmation of our innate dignity and potential for goodness. Unveiling the True Value At the heart of this reflection lies a poignant message from the scriptures, where Jesus speaks of rendering unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and unto God what belongs to God. The significance of this teaching becomes apparent when we consider that just as coins bear the image of earthly rulers, we bear likeness of our Creator. Yet, the reality of sin can obscure this likeness, much like grime covering the face of a coin. The process of redemption, then, can be likened to the meticulous work of a coin collector, revealing once again the true value that has always been present. The Image of God in Genesis The Book of Genesis tells us that God formed mankind in His image. This likeness encompasses attributes such as love, patience, kindness, creativity, justice, and mercy. It is through these characteristics that we mirror God's essence in our daily interactions. However, the challenge we face is in recognizing this image within ourselves and others, especially when obscured by the effects of sin and life's hardships. Seeing Beyond Imperfections The sermon urges us to look beyond these imperfections and to see the value in every individual as seen through the eyes of God. Just as a tarnished coin holds value before being polished, our worth in the eyes of God is intrinsic and unaltered by the stains of our mistakes and misfortunes. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ serve not as the creation of our value but as the affirmation and restoration of the value that has always been. Living as True Image Bearers Living as true image bearers of God calls us to embody God's qualities highlighted in 1 Corinthians 13. Patience, kindness, humility, and love are not mere virtues to aspire to; they are the very fabric of our being, reflecting our origin. By nurturing these qualities, we help not only ourselves but also others to recognize their sacred value. We are encouraged to seek forgiveness and offer it freely, to approach our lives with humility, and to extend kindness to all. An Invitation to Transformative Power This sermon is an invitation to embrace the transformative power of recognizing and living out our identity as bearers of God's image. It calls us to contribute to a world where each person can reflect their origin with pride and, in doing so, inspire others to discover their own worth as cherished children of the holy. In a society that often values people based on their status, achievements, or conformity to certain standards, this message is a timely reminder that our true worth lies in our origin. It challenges us to rise above societal judgments and to see the sacred in everyone we meet. It encourages us to live in such a way that our actions and interactions unmistakably reveal whose image we bear. Next Steps: Living as Reflections of God May we all strive to live as reflections of God, offering our lives as a testament to the image of God within us, so that by our example, the world may be reminded of the intrinsic worth and dignity shared by all of humanity. After reflecting on the sermon, "Reflecting God's Image: Living as True Image Bearers of God," one concrete next step a person can take is to actively practice the qualities of patience, kindness, and humility in their daily interactions with others. By consciously embodying these characteristics, they can begin to reflect the image of God more clearly and inspire those around them to recognize their own God given worth. Another step a person can take following the sermon is to engage in acts of forgiveness and restoration within their personal relationships. This might involve reaching out to someone they have wronged or who has wronged them, extending forgiveness, and working towards reconciliation. Through such actions, they can live out the transformative power of God's love and mercy, further restoring God's likeness within themselves and in their community.

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How to Approach Jesus: Lessons from Bartimaeus

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

In our journey of faith, we often find ourselves in moments of uncertainty and need. We may not fully comprehend what Jesus can do for us, or we may struggle to express our needs to Him. In these moments, we can learn valuable lessons from the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar encountered by Jesus. His approach to Jesus is a testament to the power of faith, persistence, and humility. Join us as we explore the profound insights hidden within Bartimaeus' story and discover how it can guide us in our own walk with Christ.Recognizing Our Need:Bartimaeus, aware of his blindness and lack of sight, cried out to Jesus, saying, "Son of David, have mercy on me." This heartfelt plea demonstrates the first step we should take in approaching Jesus — recognizing our need for Him. We must acknowledge our shortcomings, frailties, and the areas in our lives that require healing and restoration. Even when we are unsure of what Jesus can do for us, we must cry out for mercy, just as Bartimaeus did. This act of humility opens the door for Jesus to work in our lives.Persistent Faith:Bartimaeus' persistence in calling out to Jesus serves as a powerful example for us. Despite the attempts of others to quiet him, he continued to cry out even louder. In our own lives, there may be moments when people around us question or discourage our faith. They may fail to understand the significance of our needs or the importance of seeking Jesus. However, we must remain resolute and persistent in our faith, trusting that Jesus hears and responds to our pleas for mercy and healing.Approaching Jesus with Confidence:When Jesus called Bartimaeus to come to Him, the blind man threw off his cloak and eagerly approached Jesus. In his request, he demonstrated boldness and clarity, saying, "I want to see again." This aspect of Bartimaeus' approach highlights the importance of approaching Jesus with confidence. We should not hesitate or doubt the power of God to bring about transformation in our lives. Instead, we must confidently ask for what we need, understanding that Jesus is willing and able to meet our deepest longings.Partnering with Jesus:Surprisingly, Jesus asked Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" This question reveals an aspect of Jesus' desire to work in partnership with us. When Jesus brings about miracles and healing, He invites us to participate in the process. It is not merely about Him imposing His will upon us, but rather a collaborative effort between God and us. Our role in this partnership involves recognizing our need, persistently seeking His mercy, and taking steps of faith towards Him. Jesus wants us to be active participants in our transformation and restoration.The Journey of Healing:Following his healing, Bartimaeus joined Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. This journey symbolizes a life committed to following Christ and experiencing the abundant life that He offers. Similarly, in our own lives, after experiencing the healing and restoration that Jesus brings, we must continue to walk with Him, leaving behind our old ways and embracing a transformed life. This journey requires us to trust and have faith in Jesus, even when we do not know the full extent of what He will do in us.Conclusion:The story of Bartimaeus teaches us valuable lessons on how to approach Jesus. By recognizing our need, persistently seeking His mercy, approaching Him with confidence, and partnering with Him in our healing, we can experience the transformative power of Christ in our lives. Let us draw inspiration from Bartimaeus' faith and resolve to cry out to Jesus for mercy, confidently ask for what we need, and follow Him on the journey to abundant life. May we always remember that Jesus is eager to hear our pleas, respond to our needs, and guide us into a future filled with hope and restoration.

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Are You Trying To Earn What You Can Only Receive?

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Most of our lives we’ve been told that nothing in life is free. Everything costs us something. A date to the movies and dinner can set us back $100, easy. An unplanned trip to the ER can cost thousands. A broken relationship can add up with years filled with anxiety and depression. So it’s hard to wrap our minds around something that is actually free. We are always looking for the bottom line or asking, “What’s the catch?”  Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For those of us who have asked Jesus into our lives and accepted His gift of forgiveness from sin, there is no catch. Salvation is a free gift from Jesus. So why do we still struggle to find peace in our lives?  Often, if we’re struggling to find peace it’s because we’re still trying to pay for our sins. Think that’s not you? See if any of these apply.  3 Common Ways We Try to Earn Salvation: 1. Working our way into heaven You’ve met the type. Stressed out Christians who are involved in every ministry and every Bible study. They never say no to ministry opportunities, and fill their schedules with good deeds. The result is a life that feels overworked and under-rewarded.  Jesus said His burden is easy and His yoke is light (Matthew 11:30). Serving in church is an important part of following Jesus, but what is the motivation behind our volunteering? Do we serve because we love Jesus and we love His Church? Or, do we believe that all the good things we do will cancel out any sin in our lives so God will be happier with us? The idea of earning our salvation totally goes against the reality that salvation can not be earned by our good deeds — it is a gift.  2. Trying to pay down our debt with a check There isn’t enough money in the world to pay down the debt our sin has caused. For many people, the first response to a problem that seems overwhelming or messy is to throw money at it. Hurt someone’s feelings and don’t know what to say? Buy flowers. Too busy to invest your time? Give money instead.  Writing a check is easy, but God doesn’t want our money. He’s after our hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.” We can’t buy our way into heaven; it’s only by believing in Jesus that we find salvation.  3. Beating ourselves up over past sins  Unlike Agent K in the movie Men in Black, we do not have the luxury of erasing memories of the past. Instead, we are haunted, sometimes daily, of mistakes we’ve made that hurt others and brought pain into our lives.  Psalm 103 tells us that God is not obsessed with our past. Not only does He forgive our sins when we ask Him, God removes them from us “as far as the east is from the west.” He no longer views us in light of our sin, so it’s time for us to see like He sees and stop being so hard on ourselves.  If we are ready to stop trying to earn our salvation and start receiving God’s grace, here are three simple steps we can take:  Spend time reading the Bible every day. The more we spend time reading the Bible, the more our hearts and minds begin to understand who Jesus is and what His death and life mean to us. We can learn how to see ourselves as Jesus sees us  — forgiven and loved.  Take a gut check. Anytime we write a tithe check, drop cash in the offering bag or volunteer in a ministry, it’s important to understand why we are doing it. Make sure it’s for the right reasons.  Share your story. Tell your friends and family about how God has changed your life.  Our hearts are filled with gratitude instead of guilt when we stay focused on Jesus and not ourselves. 

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The Best Way To Honor Dr. King And The King Is To Pursue Unity

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "We must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning … we stand in the most segregated hour of America.” Fifty years later, research suggests there is still a gap between the diversity in America’s cities and the diversity in our nation’s churches. Working Toward the Dream Dr. King tirelessly worked to end racial discrimination in America, wanting freedom for everyone, regardless of skin color or background. He dreamed of the day when all people would stand on level ground because unity and justice are the strongest realities, not bigotry and inequality. Unity is not a great dream because it was Dr. King’s dream. It is a great dream because it is God’s dream. Dr. King vocalized something that has always been in God’s heart. If God’s Grace Is Really for Everyone If we really believe the Gospel — the story that we’re dead in sin but saved by Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross — is the best message in the world we have no excuse to withhold from others the same grace God demonstrated toward us.  When we judge others for being different, two things happen: we lower our standards from what God wants to what we want, and we shape our churches around what we think is best instead of what God has told us is best (Ephesians 4:4-6). Where people draw distinctions and differences, Jesus draws us together. God always invites us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The promises we share in Christ are far stronger than the positions or possessions we have on our own (James 2:1-9). Division doesn’t belong in Jesus’ Church; diversity does. A Message of Division Is Not a Message of Jesus Division in churches needs to end, not just in regard to race, but also in regard to people from different faith backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, countries, or backgrounds. Jesus didn’t start the Church to exclude certain types of people, but to include all kinds of people.  Division doesn’t belong in Jesus’ church. Diversity does. Diversity makes the church stronger. With a variety of different perspectives, backgrounds, and expressions of faith in Jesus, we’ll be better prepared to celebrate Him together in eternity.  In the Bible, God gives us a sneak peek of heaven: countless multitudes from every nation, tribe, and language (Revelation 7:9). If any of us aren’t willing to embrace as brothers and sisters people who are different than us, we simply aren’t aligned with what God values.  The more we join together in reaching people in our neighborhoods and cities and the world, the more united and effective we’ll be in connecting people to Jesus and each other (Matthew 28:19-20).  Sunday mornings may still be the most segregated hours in America, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. It can be different. 

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5 Ways To Bring Joy To A Joyless Workplace

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It’s as if the office itself matched the morale. The walls were covered in a hole-patching compound that was never sanded down or repainted. Brown stains speckled the white ceiling panels, and the carpet was shabbier than a $10 couch. Everything else felt as if it was lifted from a thrift store, and there was always a new, unpleasant smell to greet us in the morning. That was my office, and it housed a collection of workers too busy to care the building was falling apart. We didn’t have windows to peek into the sketchy neighborhood surrounding the building. The constant threat of a layoff hung around like the stench of roadkill. If you can relate to an office that more closely resembles perdition than a workplace, you can take heart in knowing that God gives us abundant life — even in the middle of a funky-smelling stress factory. 1. Realize joy is tough ... but not impossible You might dread the office like the plague, but you can be sure that believers over the past couple millennia have faced tougher situations. Jesus’ original followers faced some of the worst situations imaginable — and faced them with a sense of thanksgiving. The apostle Paul wrote letters to various churches, which make up a sizeable chunk of the New Testament. In Ephesians 3:1, Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” It is possible to find joy in the midst of the most depressing circumstances you could imagine. What you might not realize is Ephesians and several of Paul’s letters were written from prison. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were known as the prison letters. Reading through those books of the Bible show that it is possible to find joy in the midst of the most depressing circumstances you could imagine. 2. Prepare your heart before you start your work If your office environment is down in the dumps, the best thing you can do is prepare your heart for the day ahead. What do you do on your drive to work? Listen to the radio? Perhaps that’s the best time to start praying for your co-workers, bosses, and environment, or to let God’s Word speak to you. A long commute is a great opportunity to turn wasted time into reflection time — something that can benefit you and your office. 3. Check your attitude throughout the day Once you arrive at work, attitude is everything. In Philippians 2:5, Paul tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Jesus showed an enormous amount of patience dealing with difficult people, and extending grace is the best way we can show Jesus to our workplace. Courtesy, kindness, and respect go a long way. Don’t worry about tasks you might consider below you. Those are times to show your boss that you’re putting the team ahead of yourself. If you work hard and ignore self, you can be sure someone more than just your boss is watching. Finally, praise God! If you can use headphones during certain periods of the day, throw on some worship music. If you have downtime, read the Bible or an inspirational book. It’s a great stress killer, and you can share that wisdom with someone who needs it. 4. Address the difficult coworker Personality conflicts with a co-worker can start off innocuous enough but can escalate quickly — sometimes ruining your career and poisoning the atmosphere in the office. When you butt heads with a co-worker, remember that person is as important to God as you are. Try to settle problems before they become a catastrophe. Consider meeting for lunch to gently work out your problems. Take responsibility — even if you feel very little of the conflict is your fault — and work out your problems with humility. You might find the other person is as willing to own up to his or her problems as you are. Offering to serve that person could smooth over any hard feelings. If you’re feeling the sting of workplace bullying, the  “eye-for-an-eye” mentality will only intensify problems in the office. Remember that we will reap what we sow — whether good or evil. 5. Avoid hypocrisy at all costs Some of the worst-behaved people at work may be folks you see at church. When we act foolishly at work, it not only brings down the morale at the office but it can harden people’s hearts against the Gospel. If you’re predisposed to lashing out in anger or frustration, seek help for those problems. If you notice others in that position, offer to help or listen to their problems. In other words, don’t be the Pharisee that Jesus warns us about in Matthew 23:1-12. Looking at practical ways to keep morale high can be as much a full-time job as the one you’re doing, but Jesus gives us the strength to accomplish this (Philippians 4:13). And when we embrace wisdom and take practical steps to honor God at work, we’ll soon see our office lighten up — even if the funky smells persist.

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Embark on a Soulful Journey: Discover Your Star Word for 2024!

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Hey there, spiritual seekers! 🌟 As we enter the new year, it's the perfect time to set intentions and embrace opportunities for personal growth. One beautiful tradition gaining popularity is the selection of a Star Word—an inspiring and guiding word chosen to shape your spiritual journey throughout the year. What is a Star Word? A Star Word is a life-guiding word chosen randomly on Epiphany Day (Jan. 6) or Epiphany Sunday. It serves as a beacon, leading you on a profound journey of self-discovery and spiritual exploration. It's incredible how a single word can weave its way into the fabric of your life, influencing your thoughts, actions, and reflections. There is no magic in the world other than it can help you focus your attention throughout the year and give you a starting point for your prayer journey. How It Works: 📱 Text "STAR" to (610) 727-7195. 🌠 Receive your unique Star Word. 🌈 Let it guide your spiritual attention throughout the year. 📱 Receive Gentle Reminders of Your Word Through the Year. (You can stop receiving messages at any time.) Join Us on the Journey Share your stories, reflections, and experiences on social media using #StarWordJourney. Let's create a community of support and inspiration as we navigate the year ahead. Conclusion As we dive into 2023, let your spiritual journey be guided by a word that resonates with your soul. Text "STAR" to (610) 727-7195 and discover the magic a single word can bring to your life. May this year be filled with abundance, hope, joy, peace, and a deepened connection to the divine within you. Embark on this soulful journey, and let your Star Word illuminate the path ahead. 🌌✨ #StarWordMagic #SpiritualJourney2023

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One Resolution That Will Change More Than Your Year

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There are a lot of things about me I don't love. I'm irresponsible. I can be impatient at times. I listen to Kesha a lot. There are probably some things you don't love about yourself either. With the New Year comes an invitation to improve. It's time to make resolutions, work harder, and become a better person.  Self Improvement Is a Myth Our culture loves self-improvement. But the problem with self-improvement is that it doesn't exist. God tells us in the Bible that we are evil people outside of His grace. It's impossible for a bad person to bring about good in themselves. On the bright side, we have a perfect God and all good things come from Him (James 1:17). So if you want to improve, look no further than Jesus. Jesus Is Your Resolution Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." All of your self-improvement, your purpose, and your happiness lie in Him. He is your resolution. He is your answer. In Him, you will find everything you will ever need. Want to resolve to do something this year? Get to know Jesus better. It's Not Complicated There's no five-step plan or equation to getting to know Jesus better. You don't have to have gone three days without sinning. You don't have to have the Bible memorized. You don't have to pretend to be anyone you're not. He knows everything about you, yet He loves you and wants to hang out with you. Getting to know the person who saved your life is really easy.  Make it a goal to spend more time with Jesus this year by praying and reading your Bible. Try talking to Him throughout your day, while you're at work or school. Get into a small group, and let other people help you get to know Him.

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From Seasonal Tale to Lifelong Transformation: The Power of Christmas Every Day

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

In the heart of the holiday season lies the story of Christmas, which embodies transformation, hope, and the joy of togetherness. Yet, as the festive decorations come down and the rhythm of daily life resumes, the challenge often becomes how to sustain that Christmas spirit throughout the year. How can we nurture the warmth and light of this time, allowing it to guide us in the face of life's inevitable darker moments?One powerful sermon suggests that the key to year-round transformation is found by delving deeper into the message of hope from Jesus's birth. The Christmas story isn't just a seasonal tale; it's a reminder that we are not alone in our experiences. In the form of Jesus, God came to share in our joys and sorrows, offering a beacon of light in our darkest times. The profound change in characters like Ebenezer Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol' illustrates the potential for redemption and renewal within us all.However, to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, more is needed to ride the wave of holiday emotions. We must forge a lasting connection with the message of Christ—a message that extends beyond the manger and into the very fabric of our lives. This connection to Christ's light can fuel our hopes and sustain our desires for peace, love, and joy long after the holiday season has ended.So, how do we embody the Christmas spirit every day? We can look at ourselves as candles, each carrying the flame of Christ's light. Our task is to protect this flame, ensure it doesn't flicker out, and carry it into the world's darkest corners. Wherever there is pain, loneliness, hopelessness, violence, and division, it's our role to bring the light of hope and the promise of transformation.Consider the candles we light during Christmas services—how each flame is passed from one to another, growing brighter as it spreads. This image serves as a metaphor for our own lives. When we embrace the light of Christ, we become bearers of hope, tasked with lighting the way for others. Even on days when darkness feels overwhelming, the promises of God assure us that light is never far from reach. Darkness, after all, is merely the absence of light.It's important to remember that transformation begins within. By connecting with the message of Christ and seeking the transformation He brings, we embark on a path of personal growth. We become equipped to inspire change in our communities and the world as we grow. By living the Christmas message of goodwill and hope daily, we actively participate in the world's healing, fostering unity and love.So, let us carry the lessons of Christmas with us throughout the year. Let us hold fast to the hope and joy it represents and let it be a catalyst for change within ourselves and in our interactions with others. In doing so, we'll find that the true spirit of Christmas is a gift not just for a season but for every day. This gift can lead to lifelong transformation and an unwavering sense of hope.

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Shaping a Legacy with the Light of Christ's Love

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As we walk through life, our every action and decision leave ripples that extend far beyond our immediate presence. But what if we could see the full impact of our choices? What if, like the fictional Scrooge, we were confronted with the haunting possibilities that lie ahead, guided by a vision of what might be if we continued on our current path?Such a thought experiment urges us to consider the transformative power of facing our potential legacies. The echoes of our choices are not merely whispers; they significantly impact the world around us. Reflecting on this profound reality, we can find guidance in living a life steeped in Christ-like love and holiness. The Future and Our ImpactOur actions today are the seeds of tomorrow's garden. How we treat others, how we speak, how we love—all of these are threads in the tapestry of our legacy. When we contemplate our lives through the lens of Christ's love, we begin to understand the weight of our actions and the indelible marks they leave.The story of Scrooge is not just a tale of Christmas past; it's a lesson in redemption and transformation. Scrooge's journey from a life of solitude and bitterness to one of joy and community serves as a powerful metaphor. It's a narrative that invites us to examine our own lives and consider whether we are cultivating a future of joy and benefit, not only for ourselves but for others.God's Promises for the FutureIn times of uncertainty, it's comforting to know that we have a compass in the scripture and the teachings of Christ. We are promised a future under divine sovereignty—a future of peace, without pain or division. This is not merely a distant hope but an unfolding reality that we are called to actively shape. As agents of God's kingdom, we can foster peace, justice, and community even amidst the shadows of our current world. With Jesus Christ as our guide, we have the strength and guidance to embrace and advance the manifestation of God's peace and unity today.Crafting a Future with the Blueprint of Divine LoveIf we believe in the promise of a world filled with peace and joy, why not start living out those values today? Our daily lives can be an expression of the divine future we await. By living in peace, seeking justice, and building community, we are crafting a present that reflects the promised future.The Christmas story, at its heart, is about God's redemptive plan coming to fruition through Christ. This season, and every day, offers us an opportunity to embody the principles of that story—love, giving, renewal, and hope. It reminds us that each of us has a role to play in bringing about the future God has envisioned.ConclusionIn this journey of life, let us consider how our choices today will echo into eternity. May we draw inspiration from the scripture and the example of Christ to live lives that ripple out with positive influence. Let us be courageous in confronting our future, shaping it with love, and leaving a Christ-led legacy that will resonate with joy and peace for generations to come.

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The Nativity You Know Is A Lie

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We’re all familiar with the scene. It’s a quiet, starlit evening, Mary and Joseph are reclining comfortably in a quaint country stable. Baby Jesus is sleeping, well, like a baby. As Mary and Joseph rested from their journey, reverent, orderly shepherds and noble wise men visited the happy couple and brought gifts to honor Jesus. That picture of the first Christmas is wrong. Not So Silent Night If we examine the actual circumstances surrounding Jesus’s birth, we find that it wasn’t what we’ve always been told. The 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would’ve taken at least four days on foot. It was a hazardous journey through rugged terrain, fields and rural towns. Mary was very pregnant, and probably under some emotional stress as a teen mom whose marriage was nearly over before it started (Matthew 1:18-21). At that time, animal stables in Bethlehem were dark, damp caves in which livestock slept and ate. This was not a tidy, sterile environment for a newborn. The shepherds in that region were social outcasts of low economic status and were looked down on by the rest of society. It was not a calm, comfortable, silent night. It was dirty, smelly, awkward and definitely not charming. Contrary to modern depictions, the wise men didn’t even visit Jesus immediately after His birth. They arrived at Jesus’s home when He was about 2 years old (Matthew 2:10). Well Meaning But Wrong Christmas carols and porcelain nativity scenes are well meaning, but they don’t do justice to the weight of the events that took place that night in the Israeli countryside. The most important thing we should remember about Christmas is that God came to save sinners (John 3:17). Jesus came from heaven into our mess, not because we deserved it, but because we needed it. As we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember the beautiful mess the nativity scene was. Let’s remember that no matter how messy parts of our lives can be, Jesus is for us and is with us. In the midst of our messes, Jesus joins us and begins to transform us, and that is something worth celebrating.

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Unwrapping Joy: Scrooge's Journey through Christmas Present

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

In the enchanting narrative of 'A Christmas Carol,' the character of Scrooge undergoes a remarkable transformation, evolving from a solitary and embittered man into a soul brimming with joy and generosity. Amidst the tale's timeless resonance, one pivotal moment stands out—the encounter between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present. This article intricately explores this episode, shedding light on the profound revelation that reshaped Scrooge's perception of Christmas and, consequently, his life. The Essence of Scrooge's Metamorphosis: At the heart of 'A Christmas Carol' lies a poignant reminder of the core tenets of Christmas—joy, hope, and redemption. Scrooge's journey is a beacon, illustrating past, present, and future interconnectedness in our personal narratives. "We celebrate that Christmas day, we remember Christ's first coming, we lift it up and hold it in our hearts each, every day, and lift it up every year, not only as a celebration of what God has done, but what God is doing and what God will do, because the reality of God's kingdom is that it is past, present and future." Scrooge's story urges us to openly reconcile with our past and embrace the present. Like the shepherd seeking the lost sheep, Christmas embodies God's relentless pursuit of the broken, infusing them with profound joy. This theme, woven into the fabric of the Christmas story, reflects God's recognition of what is missing in humanity and His divine mission to redeem us through the gift of His son. Unveiling the Absences: A crucial lesson from Scrooge's transformative odyssey lies in his realization of who is absent from his life. Guided by the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge witnesses the jubilation and love surrounding Christmas celebrations—a joy he has unwittingly denied himself. Family gatherings, laughter, and festive merriment unfold before him, highlighting his conspicuous absence from these scenes. This revelation prompts a soul-searching journey, compelling him to identify and include those missing from his life in the warmth of his newfound celebrations. "Our world today has people who are lost in sin, lost in darkness, lost in pain and suffering, who withhold themselves, keep themselves away from the table, keep themselves away from the joy or have been excluded by others. And too often we go about our daily lives, too often we go about our weekly worship, too often we go about our normal way of being and don't pay any attention to who is missing." Discovering Radiance in the Shadows: Scrooge's tale serves as a poignant reminder that joy and hope can be unearthed even in the darkest corners. His journey into the past is a stark prompt for us to confront and grapple with our own histories. It calls us to be vigilant, identifying those absent from our celebrations and actively seeking ways to share the transformative joy and hope of Christ with them. In Conclusion: The redemptive narrative of Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' resonates as a potent parable of joy, hope, and redemption. As the festive season envelops us, let us conscientiously contemplate those missing from our celebrations and extend a genuine effort to include them. May our celebrations be a testament to the true essence of Christmas—sharing joy and hope with those around us, encapsulating the season's spirit in its purest form.

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Unwrapping Loneliness: Navigating the Shadows of Isolation During the Holiday Season

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

As the holiday season approaches, a time traditionally associated with warmth, joy, and togetherness, many find themselves wrestling with the shadows of loneliness. Reflecting on a recent sermon and the timeless tale of "A Christmas Carol," we delve into the dangers and challenges of loneliness, aiming to shed light on this often-overlooked struggle. In this blog post, we explore the impact of loneliness on our past, drawing parallels to Scrooge's journey, and offer insights on overcoming isolation during this festive season. The Ghosts of Christmas Past During this festive time that's supposed to be filled with joy and togetherness, it's important to recognize that the holiday season intensifies feelings of loneliness for some among us. Despite the cheerful decorations and the spirit of celebration, not everyone experiences the warmth of connection and shared happiness. This unspoken reality is a significant aspect that we, as a community, need to acknowledge and address. The recent challenges brought about by the global pandemic have made this loneliness even more pronounced. Social distancing measures, lockdowns, and travel restrictions have disrupted our usual ways of coming together. Families and friends may be separated by physical distance, making it difficult to share the joy of the season with our loved ones. While technology has allowed for virtual connections, it also highlights the tangible absence of being physically present with one another. In the story of "A Christmas Carol," we see reflections of our own struggles in the character of Scrooge. Like him, many in our community may find themselves feeling isolated due to circumstances beyond their control, emphasizing the shared nature of these feelings during the holiday season. Recognizing these parallels reminds us of the timeless themes that connect us across generations. The loneliness experienced by Scrooge serves as a cautionary tale, urging us to be mindful of our choices and their impact on our connections with others. This holiday season, let us come together as a community to support one another, reaching out to those who may be feeling lonely and ensuring everyone can experience the warmth of companionship during this time of the year. Understanding How Past Experiences Shape Our Present As we journey through life, our past experiences play a profound role in shaping our present reality. Much like the character of Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol," our past influences how we approach the holiday season and our relationships with those around us. Reflecting on Scrooge's life, we see how his past choices and experiences led him to a place of isolation. The ghosts of his past, present, and future revealed the consequences of holding onto bitterness and resentment. Similarly, our own past sorrows and pain can become emotional baggage, influencing our interactions and causing us to withdraw from the joy that the holiday season promises. Clinging to past grievances can have a detrimental impact on our present relationships and overall well-being. It acts as a barrier, preventing us from fully engaging with the joyous moments and connections available during this festive time. Just as Scrooge's bitterness affected his ability to connect with others, our unresolved past can hinder the warmth and openness needed for meaningful relationships. Embracing transformation requires a crucial step: making peace with the past. The ghosts in "A Christmas Carol" guide Scrooge towards this realization, encouraging him to confront and release the burdens of his history. Similarly, we are called to reflect on our own pasts, understanding that forgiveness, both of others and ourselves, is a powerful catalyst for change. By letting go of past sorrows and pain, we create space for new connections and experiences. This holiday season, let us collectively choose to release the grip of past grievances, allowing the spirit of joy and love to permeate our lives. As a community, we can support one another in this journey towards emotional freedom, fostering an environment where transformation becomes not just possible but a shared celebration of renewal and hope. Overcoming Loneliness: The Importance of Persistence and Invitation In the heartwarming tale of "A Christmas Carol," one of the most poignant moments unfolds through the persistent invitations extended by Scrooge's nephew. Drawing inspiration from this narrative, we discover a powerful lesson about overcoming loneliness – the transformative impact of persistent invitation. Scrooge's nephew, despite facing rejection and indifference from his uncle, remains steadfast in extending invitations for Christmas celebrations. This act of unwavering persistence is a beacon of hope and a reminder of the resilience of human connection. In our lives, we encounter individuals who may be navigating the holiday season in isolation, and it is incumbent upon us to channel the spirit of Scrooge's nephew. The power of persistent invitation lies in its ability to break through the barriers of loneliness. Loneliness often creates a self-imposed fortress around individuals, making it challenging for them to reach out or accept offers of companionship. However, this fortress begins to crumble when met with consistent and genuine invitations. The persistent act of reaching out communicates a sense of belonging and value, assuring those experiencing loneliness that they are not forgotten. As a community, we hold the key to unlocking the potential for connection. During this festive season, let us embody the spirit of Scrooge's nephew by persistently reaching out to those who may be feeling isolated. A simple invitation to share in the joy of the season, whether through a festive gathering, virtual celebration, or a heartfelt conversation, can be a lifeline for someone experiencing loneliness. In understanding the profound impact of persistent invitation, we become active participants in creating a community where no one feels left behind. Through these acts of kindness and inclusivity, we contribute to alleviating loneliness, fostering an environment where the warmth of human connection triumphs over isolation. As we extend invitations, we become agents of transformation, embodying the true spirit of the holiday season – a time of togetherness, compassion, and the power to overcome loneliness through persistent, heartfelt connection. Conclusion As we navigate the complexities of loneliness, let us remember that the Christmas season embodies a spirit of hope and transformation. Inspired by the lessons of Scrooge's redemption and the sermon's reflections, may we confront the ghosts of our past, break free from the chains of fear, and extend invitations to those yearning for connection. In doing so, we can turn this season into an opportunity for healing, rediscovery, and the creation of meaningful connections.

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Scrooge's Redemption: A Blueprint for Personal Transformation

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

As the festive season approaches, many of us relish in the familiar traditions that accompany it - the twinkling lights, the scent of pine, and the beloved stories that warm our hearts year after year. But have you ever paused to consider the profound wisdom nestled within these timeless tales? Consider the transformational journey of Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" and the biblical tale of the rich man and Lazarus. Both stories underscore the fleeting nature of time, the profound impact of our actions and attitudes towards others, and the essential importance of treasuring traditions and memories. Scrooge's tale, in particular, resonates with many. He is a man burdened by his past, detached from the present, and terrified of the future. His story serves as a potent reminder of the chains we often bind ourselves with - chains of regret, fear, and complacency. But just as Scrooge learns, these chains can be cast aside, and our spirits can be set free. Just as the Christmas season brings transformation and renewal, we too can undergo our own personal transformations. But first, we must recognize the chains that hold us back. Are they chains of the past, holding us hostage to regret and past mistakes? Are they chains of the present, born from our current circumstances or struggles? Or perhaps they are chains of the future, our fears of the unknown holding us back from reaching our full potential. Recognizing these chains is the first step towards breaking free. But we don't have to do it alone. The promise of the Christmas season and the presence of the Holy Spirit offer us hope and help. By allowing ourselves to see these chains for what they truly are, we make the first move towards a more liberated, joyous life. In the spirit of the season, let's choose to confront these chains. Let's take that step out of our comfort zones and embrace the freedom that comes with transformation. Let's pay tribute to the power of Christmas classics that not only entertain us but also inspire and teach us profound life lessons. The tales we tell during this season aren't just stories; they are timeless wisdom passed down through generations. They remind us of the power of transformation, the beauty of tradition, and the possibility of a future unchained. As we celebrate the holiday season, let's remember to also celebrate our journey towards breaking free from our chains. The path to freedom and hope may be challenging, but it's a journey worth embarking on. After all, Christmas isn't just about the festivities; it's also about hope, transformation, and newfound freedom. So let's embrace the spirit of the season and begin our journey towards unchaining ourselves. Remember, no matter how far down you've fallen or how tightly the chains bind you, there is always room for an in-breaking of the supernatural. With faith and determination, we can all find our own Christmas Carol-style transformation this festive season. Let's step into this holiday season with hope, ready to unchain ourselves and embrace the joy that comes with true freedom.

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How To Have The Best Christmas Ever

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Close your eyes and picture the perfect Christmas. The smell of fresh-baked goods filling the house. The tree glistening with perfectly hung lights and a fire crackling as the kids play with new toys. We start December with high expectations, but all too often our quest for the picture-perfect day leaves us frazzled and stressed. The Christmas season becomes flooded with anything but joy as we race to find the perfect gift and open our homes to family, in-laws, and friends. This year can be different! Follow these two simple steps, and you can finally have the best Christmas ever. How to Have the Best Christmas Ever 1. Make the main thing the main thing. The best way to avoid turning into the Grinch this Christmas is to remember the point of the holiday. Christmas isn’t a task to complete or a burden to endure, it is a celebration of Jesus coming to Earth. John 3:16 says God loved us so much He sent His Son to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him.  The same way that a wedding is still a wedding with or without the pomp and circumstance, Christmas is still Christmas if we never open a gift or put lights on a tree. In both cases, the person, not the party, makes the day complete.  So don’t let the stress of making a list and checking it twice distract you from who the day is really all about. Jesus is God with us and the ultimate gift. 2. Choose peace over chaos. In a letter to the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote about what it looked like to be alive in Jesus. He instructs the Colossians to, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). This instruction is true for us today. We are called to live in peace, looking at our lives with thanks for what we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have. When we remember who our heavenly Father is, we realize we have nothing to fear. The same God who made the heavens and the earth tells us to call Him, "Dad." He is a good dad who doesn't let His kids go without. "Look at the birds of the air," Jesus tells His followers. "They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:25-34).   Real lasting peace comes from knowing whose we are. Spending time with God, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for us, the stress of life slowly fades away. The chaos of the holidays is put into context.  So put down the cookie cutters, step away from the gift wrap, and rest in God’s peace. Your house may not smell like fresh-baked goods and your tree may not sparkle, but seeking Jesus and His peace this holiday season will ensure you to have the best Christmas ever.

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Two People Your Christmas Play Probably Forgot

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Growing up in a small town in the South, you didn't have to be a Christian to know the Christmas story. Every church puts on the same Christmas play and light display: baby Jesus lying in a manger surrounded by his parents, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and wise men who traveled to see Him, and the angel who announced His arrival to the world. But if we look outside of Luke 2, we discover that Jesus' arrival affected a lot more people than those huddled around the manger that night. Two Lesser-Known People in the Christmas Story 1. Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) Simeon was a man who loved God. As a priest, Simeon was well-trained in Jewish law, literature, and tradition. He would have been an expert in God’s Word, having memorized the first five books of the Bible. Simeon knew the prophecies about the Messiah who was to come and rescue Israel. Not only that, the Holy Spirit told Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ. People had been waiting for the Messiah for more than 400 years when Jesus was born. As the years passed, and Simeon grew older, he must have wondered if God was really going to come through on that promise. Then, the day Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, the Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple as well. In the moment they met, a lifelong promise was fulfilled. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and blessed Him, telling Mary and Joseph all that Jesus would do. Imagine seeing a promise you’ve been clinging to come to fruition right in front of you. Maybe it’s the promise that your marriage would be restored, that the baby you’ve waited for is coming, that the sickness will be healed. Simeon’s story is a reminder to us that God always comes through on His promises. Our God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. 2. Anna (Luke 2:36-38) A prophet named Anna was also at the temple during this time. Anna was married for seven years before her husband died. By the time Jesus was born, she had been a widow for more than 80 years. Anna never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Her discipline and devotion over the course of her life put her in the position to meet Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they walked through with Simeon. Anna then started to spread the news that this child was different. The Bible says, “she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Anna saw years of fasting, praying, and worshipping culminates in that moment. As a result of her faith in the day-to-day, Anna witnessed the Son of God herself and had the opportunity to speak of the redemption and hope He would bring. Anna’s story reminds us that daily obedience and devotion puts us in a position to see the miraculous. The time we spend with God draws us closer to Him, and it’s when we’re closest to God that we’re best able to recognize His work in our lives. Jesus’ birth affected many more people than the ones we see in Christmas pageants and light displays. Jesus’ birth rocked Simeon’s world, Anna’s world, and ours as well. Without Jesus in the manger, we would not have Jesus on the cross. Without Jesus on the cross, we would not have salvation and we would still be separated from God. The Christmas story is one of prayers answered and miracles witnessed, promises fulfilled and hope restored. It’s an old story and a new story. It’s Jesus’ story, and it’s our story.

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Why Serving Others This Holiday Matters More Than We Think

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This Thanksgiving, I sat by an empty chair. My family, like all families, crams in our modest house for holidays. It’s a blur of jutted elbows, stepped on toes, and mismatched chairs. Our holiday gatherings aren’t the most spacious, but we make it work. A few years ago, my grandfather passed away leaving one chair empty at our table. Each Christmas and Thanksgiving since, that chair has represented him and the loss to our family. Time passed, wounds healed, and now there is space at our frantic holiday gatherings. The holidays, more than any other season, presents us with opportunities to serve people. My family has space at our table. And even if my grandfather was still with us, we would have room. We still have food and gifts. We still have a lot of things the Lord has so graciously given us. Who could be sitting in that chair? Who could eat our way-too-much-food and be a part of our little too off-kilter family? More importantly, would we be willing to open our hands and give? Serving others, especially strangers in need, can be uncomfortable. But when we step out of our realm of comfort, God shows us something new about Himself. Why Should We Seek to Serve? God is always doing something in our lives and in the lives of everyone around us. He intersects our paths with people at just the right time to the benefit of everyone. What happens in our lives is never just about us. Proverbs 28:27 says “Whoever gives to the poor will not want.” As we give of whatever we have, the Lord gives to us — more peace, provision, hope — whatever it is we need at the time. Opening our hands from whatever it is we are holding releases the power of God in our lives to provide more than we can imagine. Giving is a way we release control of our lives and trust God to do more than we could. Deuteronomy 15:11 says,“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites…” There will never be a shortage of people to serve. There are many who are financially poor, lacking basic physical needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Others are relationally poor, finding themselves far from home or without family. Some are emotionally spent after a tough year, and facing the holidays makes their burden even harder to bear. Ask these questions: Who around you is lacking? Who has a gap in their lives? The lonely may need a family. The disheartened may need encouragement. The poor may need provision. And you very well may have what they need. Why Is This So Uncomfortable? In our minds and on our social media accounts, we picture pajamas and abundant food and full stockings. And often, giving away our things, our time, and our money changes that picture. We have a default setting — a way that is “us”-centric. Jesus works in our hearts to make us “others”-centric. Faith is about change. If our faith is growing, we will not stay the same. We will not do things the same way we always have. The Lord will push, prod, press in on us. He will lead us straight out of comfortable and into growth. Why Not You? We all have something to give. Jesus has blessed us beyond anything we deserve. The real gift comes to us when we give it away, even if, especially if, it is uncomfortable. Jesus stepped out of His comfortable home in heaven and into a messy, uncomfortable world. The more we do the same, the more we will understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jesus stepped out of His comfortable home in heaven and into a messy, uncomfortable world. The more we do the same, the more we will understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us. And wouldn’t the best gift this holiday season be a greater picture of who Jesus is? My bank account isn’t flush, but this holiday season I do have an empty chair.

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Three Reasons We Pray Before Meals

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At dining room tables and in kitchens across America, families will take a few moments today to pause and pray before devouring the feast before them. Have you ever wondered why we do this? Or what to say? Whether your family “says grace,” “gives thanks” or “blesses the food,” here are three reasons we pray before meals.  1. To celebrate who God is   God is a giver. God is generous. Every time we bow our heads, it’s an opportunity to express gratitude for God’s character. King David, one of the leaders of Israel, gives us a great example of what this looks like.  God put it on David’s heart to build a temple. To accomplish this task, the nation would need money, supplies, and skilled craftsmen to do the work. David asked everyone to give as they felt led, and the response was overwhelming! To celebrate, King David gathered the whole nation for a massive feast. Before they ate, David stood before the people and prayed: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).   Celebrating God’s greatness is one way we tell Him we love Him. David starts his blessing by celebrating who God is. God loves hearing us tell Him what a good father He is just like we love it when our kids tell us what good parents we are. Celebrating God’s greatness is one way we tell Him we love Him. It also puts us in our place. When we recall how powerful and majestic God is, we remember how small and dependent on Him we are. 2. To remember who provides for us God made everything. Whatever we have, God gave us. David understood that God is our provider, so before digging into the feast, he wanted to make sure Israel understood this as well: “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all… who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14). This feast was not about celebrating Israel’s wealth, but God’s generosity. The same is true for us. The turkeys we carve are gifts from God. The homes eat in are gifts from God. He alone deserves the credit for it all, and when we understand that, it only feels natural to give Him thanks. Taking a day to recognize how blessed we are is a good thing, but living each day with gratitude is a God thing.  3. To redirect our hearts After recognizing that God is great and He gives everything, David makes one ask: God, please don’t ever let us forget either one of those truths. “I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you” (1 Chronicles 29:17-18). Taking a day to recognize how blessed we are is a good thing, but living each day with gratitude is a God thing. That’s what David wanted for his people, and that’s what God wants for us. How would it change our attitude to life if we prayed with the same earnestness we have on Thanksgiving 365 days a year?

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The Power of Choice: Navigating Faith, Decisions, and the Blessings of God

Posted By Kevin Rutledge

Introduction: The Challenge of Choice Have you ever found yourself grappling with the complexity of choice? Faced with a multitude of options, it can be challenging to make a decision. Imagine, then, the conundrum of the Israelites when presented with the divine challenge of deciding whom to worship - Baal or God. This age-old biblical story mirrors our contemporary struggles, reminding us of the importance of making informed choices and leaning on faith in times of uncertainty. In today’s world, it’s all too easy to try to “hop between multiple options,” hedging our bets and keeping our options open. However, the story of Elijah teaches us that such an approach is neither helpful nor true worship. The essence of choice, as explored in the story of Elijah, invites us to not only make a decision but to actively question and analyze our convictions. Navigating the Dilemma of Decision Making One of the crucial lessons we can draw from the story of Elijah is the importance of making decisions. However, the decision-making process is rarely straightforward, and the fear of making the wrong choice can often lead to inaction. But is not making a choice a better option than making the wrong one? Think about the last time you were at a diner, confronted with a menu that seemed to have endless pages. Did you feel overwhelmed by the array of choices? The fear of making the wrong choice and ending up with an unappetizing meal might have paralyzed you into indecision. This seemingly mundane scenario is a microcosm of the larger, more significant decisions we are faced with in our lives. Just like choosing a meal at a diner, every decision we make in life implies a rejection of all other possible choices. The Power of Evidence in Decision Making The story of Elijah reminds us that making a choice is not a blind leap into the unknown. It is a calculated step, informed by evidence and data. When Elijah challenged the Israelites to choose between Baal and God, he didn’t leave it up to chance. He set up a test to prove that God was the one true God. Elijah built an altar with 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel and called upon God to ignite a heavenly fire, proving His divine prowess. This act wasn’t just a display of God’s power, but also a means of providing the Israelites with tangible evidence of God’s presence. It was this evidence that finally led the Israelites to choose God over Baal. In the same way, when faced with a choice, we need to gather all available evidence and make an informed decision. This doesn’t mean that every decision will have a clear-cut answer. Instead, it highlights the importance of weighing the available evidence before making a choice. Sharing Personal Stories: A Tool for Decision Making Just as Elijah’s story guided the Israelites in their decision, sharing our personal experiences can help others navigate their choices. Personal stories provide us with insights into how other people have navigated similar situations, offering us evidence and perspective to inform our decisions. When we share our stories, we open up opportunities for others to see what God is doing in our lives. This doesn’t mean that we need to stage grand displays like Elijah. Instead, it’s about showing the everyday miracles that God works in our lives, from healing sickness to providing support in times of need. Celebrating God’s Blessings Our decisions are not just about choosing between right and wrong. They are also about recognizing and celebrating God’s blessings. Just like the Israelites chose to worship God after witnessing His power, we are invited to choose to acknowledge and celebrate God’s blessings in our lives. When we share stories of God’s goodness, we open our eyes to see His blessings. This not only strengthens our faith but also fosters a sense of community as we encourage each other to recognize and celebrate God’s blessings. In conclusion, the story of Elijah and the Israelites serves as a timeless lesson on the power of choice. It teaches us that decisions are not just about making a choice, but also about questioning and analyzing our convictions. It reminds us of the importance of gathering evidence and making informed decisions. And finally, it encourages us to share our stories and celebrate God’s blessings. In the face of uncertainty and fear, may we always have the courage to make choices that honor our faith and celebrate God’s goodness.

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How to Make the Right Decisions: Guidance From 1 Kings 12

Posted By Kevin Rutledge

Who do you turn to for advice and counsel when faced with a difficult decision? How do you decide what to do? The Bible provides us with valuable insights on this topic. In 1 Kings 12, we read about the story of King Rehoboam, who had to make a critical decision at the beginning of his reign. His people approached him with a request to reduce their taxes. Rehoboam sought advice from two groups: the elders who had served his father, King Solomon, and his young friends who had grown up with him. The elders gave Rehoboam wise counsel, advising him to listen to the people's requests and reduce their taxes. However, Rehoboam's young friends gave him very different advice. They told him to assert his authority and show the people who were boss. Rehoboam ultimately chose to listen to his young friends and refused to reduce the people's taxes. This decision led to a revolt, and the kingdom of Israel was divided into two. This story gives us several important lessons about seeking advice and making decisions. First, it is vital to seek advice from wise and experienced people. The elders in the story of King Rehoboam were wise and experienced leaders who had served his father for many years. They knew what was best for the kingdom and gave Rehoboam sound advice. Second, we should be careful about listening to the advice of people who flatter us or tell us what we want to hear. Rehoboam's young friends told him what he wanted to hear, even though they knew it was wrong. They were not looking out for the kingdom's best interests, but rather their own interests. Third, we should always seek God's guidance before making important decisions. God is the source of all wisdom and knows what is best for us. When we seek His guidance, He will lead us in the right direction. Practical tips for seeking advice and making decisions Pray and ask God for wisdom. Seek advice from wise and experienced people, especially those who have your best interests at heart. Consider the consequences of your decision, both for yourself and others. Make decisions based on your values and principles, not on what is popular or easy. Be willing to change your mind if you realize you have made a mistake. Remember, your decisions shape your life. Make them count.

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What is Regionalization and Is it a Dirty Word for the UMC?

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Regionalization may sound like a complex term, but it's becoming an increasingly hot topic in the United Methodist Church (UMC). At its core, regionalization is all about granting different parts of the church the autonomy to shape their own rules according to their specific needs. In this blog post, we'll explore this concept in simpler terms, breaking down the reasons behind it and how it's already influencing various aspects of the UMC. What Is Regionalization?Regionalization, a concept that's been a part of the United Methodist Church (UMC) since its establishment in 1968, revolves around the idea of allowing different areas or groups within the church the flexibility to adapt their practices to suit their specific needs better. Currently, the U.S. holds a central role within the denomination, influencing decisions made at the General Conference, which is the highest decision-making body of the UMC, responsible for establishing church policies and positions on global issues.Regionalization seeks to address this imbalance by decentralizing the influence of the United States on the General Conference. It promotes the UMC's fundamental principle of connectionalism (Connectionalism is a way of being the church that emphasizes the importance of relationships and the interdependence of all parts of the church), allowing for more context-specific ministry and mission throughout the church. The proposal aims to provide regions, both within and outside the U.S., with equal privileges, ensuring the unity of the UMC while expanding the authority granted to non-U.S. regions, often referred to as Central Conferences.While some argue that regionalization may shift the UMC toward a more regionalized structure, it also has the potential to foster collaboration and resource-sharing among members for the common growth and development of the Church, regardless of geographic distinctions. In essence, regionalization is about enabling various parts of the UMC to tailor their practices to their unique contexts, ultimately promoting relevance, equity, and trust within the denomination.Why Regionalization Matters The United Methodist Church is a massive worldwide organization, and it embraces a diverse range of cultures, beliefs, and practices. What works in one part of the world might not work in another. By allowing different regions or groups to adapt certain rules and practices to their needs, the church can better serve its members in varying contexts.The conversation surrounding regionalization holds significant importance for a global church like the United Methodist Church (UMC), which encompasses diverse contexts, people, and unique issues specific to their regions. Regionalization matters because it seeks to address the inherent challenges and complexities associated with a global church structure. Here are several key reasons why this conversation is crucial:Equity Across Diverse Contexts: The UMC operates in various parts of the world, each with its distinct cultural, social, and theological differences. Regionalization acknowledges these variations and aims to provide equity by allowing different regions or groups the autonomy to adapt their practices to suit their specific needs. This approach ensures that the church's policies and practices remain relevant and effective across diverse contexts, fostering a sense of inclusivity.Decentralizing Influence: The UMC has historically been centralized, with the United States playing a predominant role in shaping decisions at the General Conference. This centralization may not fully consider the unique issues and perspectives of non-U.S. regions. Regionalization seeks to decentralize this influence, reducing the U.S.'s overrepresentation and allowing all regions to have a more equal say in decision-making. This shift ensures that the church's governance reflects the collective voice of its global members.Cultural Relevance: Different regions often face specific challenges and ethical issues that may not be universally applicable. Regionalization enables the UMC to be more culturally relevant by tailoring its ministry and mission to the unique needs and circumstances of local communities. It respects the principle of connectionalism while acknowledging the importance of context-specific approaches to faith and practice. How Regionalization WorksIn the UMC, there are various administrative bodies, and they all have different levels of autonomy. For example, some areas of the church are outside the United States, and they've had more freedom to make decisions that align with their unique situations. This autonomy includes determining how they ordain clergy, a process known as ordination.Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated as ministers, deacons, or elders, and it is critical to how we function as a church. The UMC has seen different regions adopt different approaches to ordination based on their specific needs. For instance, some areas have chosen to avoid following specific changes made by the General Conference in 1996, which introduced a new system for ordination for deacons as a separate order. Instead, they've preferred to stick with their established processes.What's fascinating about regionalization is that these variations in practices and structures have yet to threaten the unity of the UMC. Despite different regions having their way of doing things, the church remains connected and continues to function as a single entity worldwide. The conversation about regionalization is critical because it addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by a global church that represents a wide array of contexts, peoples, and specific issues. It seeks to balance the influence, foster equity, and promote cultural relevance, all while maintaining the unity of the United Methodist Church in an ever-diverse world.

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4 Things I Pray For My Child

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My wife and I are expecting our first child this summer. Our world is about to change forever. There is nothing quite like the pressure, fear, and feelings of inadequacy that come when you know that you are now responsible for another human being. I admit I am a control freak. God is breaking me of the fear that comes as I realize that the decisions my child will make are out of my control. So I pray, all the time. These things I will continue to pray for my daughter as she grows, until I leave this earth. If you have kids of any age or gender, maybe these will help direct your prayers: 1. Salvation This is the most important decision our kids can ever make. I want my child to understand the love of Jesus, how it frees us from death and sin. I pray even now before her birth that God will lead her to a place of surrender. I don’t want her to pray a prayer; I want her to be set on fire for a new life. I want my daughter to understand what it means follow Jesus with her whole life, to be radically different because she has been changed forever by a God who loves radically. It is scary to think about how little control we have over eternal matters, no control really. But I am begging God daily to give my daughter a new life (Mark 5:40-42). 2. Generosity I want my daughter to love being generous, to give her time and money away freely. There is so much joy in generosity. I want her to experience that joy and I want her to know what it feels like to not have to worry about money or possessions because she has a good Father that promises to take care of her (Luke 12:22-32). 3. Wisdom How many poor decisions and bad circumstances could we have avoided in our own past if we just used better judgment?  I don’t want to force my daughter in to making good decisions, because I know there will come a day when I am not there to guide her. She has to be able to make decisions on her own. I want my child to understand that spending time with God every day and reading her Bible is the best way to gain wisdom. The best way for me or you not to feel the heartache that comes with a rebellious child is to beg God to give our kids wisdom and a heart that loves Scripture.  4. Faith I want my daughter to have bold faith: the kind of faith that walks into burning furnaces (Daniel 3), the kind of faith written about in Hebrews 11. I want my daughter to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is good, and God can be trusted. I know that if my child ever grasps that concept it will change the way she lives. I want her to live the adventure of faith, with a willingness to follow God to the end of the earth. I want my daughter to get so caught up in chasing a cause God places in her heart that nothing else matters. I hope you can take some of these prayers and pray them over your own children. Pray with full confidence that we serve a good Heavenly Father, and He wants what is best for all of His kids. 

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Proud to Be UMC? A Video Series of What it Means to Be United Methodists.

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In this series of videos, Reverend Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, responds to a collection of videos prepared by Reverend Rob Renfroe, co-founder of the Global Methodist Church. Throughout these videos, Renfroe outlines a PR campaign aimed at persuading United Methodist pastors and local church members to leave the United Methodist Church and join the Global Methodist Church.Reverend Hamilton provides a comprehensive review and response to the entire series of videos. His commentary covers various aspects, including the portrayal of opposition and positivity within Renfroe's campaign, defining the identity of the United Methodist Church, its mission, and values. He emphasizes the importance of innovation in ministry, underlining that the church must continually adapt and improve to effectively reach 21st-century people.Throughout his response, Reverend Hamilton expresses his pride in being a United Methodist and encourages others to remain within the denomination, highlighting the church's strengths and values. His commentary offers a comprehensive view of the entire video series, addressing key themes and arguments presented by Reverend Renfroe.

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What makes United Methodists different?

Posted By United Methodist Communications

This is the video of a podcast recorded by UMC.org and the Rethink Church.  Hosts Ryan Dunn and Michelle Maldonado, alongside guest Ashley Boggan, take us on a journey to uncover the distinctiveness of the Methodist faith. Initially produced as part of the United Methodist Podcast-a-thon, this episode offers insightful perspectives from Dr. Ashley Boggan, the general secretary of the United Methodist Church's General Commission on Archives and History. Ever wonder where the name "Methodist" came from? Why is Welch's grape juice often used in United Methodist communion? What's different about how United Methodists interact with the world? Dr. Boggan provides some historical context around what makes the United Methodist unique and peculiar amidst today's many Christian denominations. {[ youtube id:'dCqc5VSZI3Y' ]}In this episode:(00:00) Compass podcast explores the uniqueness of United Methodism. (03:03) Early risers study, pray, hold each accountable. Seek mission beyond Oxford, helping the poor. Methodism: faith in action through love. (08:34) Methodist women pushed boundaries for equality. (11:22) Personal holiness requires relational connection with others. (14:09) Wesley valued personal experiences in interpreting scripture. (21:52) Methodist legacy: evolving church for community service. (26:34) Welch's juice and the UMC (30:48) Interactive Methodist resource with podcast and courses.

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The Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5: Timeless Wisdom for a Fulfilling Life

Posted By Kevin Rutledge

Have you ever considered the Ten Commandments as more than just a set of inscribed words? Let's dive into the profound meaning and transformative power of these ancient scriptures, viewing them not just as rules but as guiding principles that come to life through intentional practice over time.The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a foundational set of ethical and moral guidelines found in the Bible, particularly in the book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 5:6-21). This version of the commandments was delivered by Moses to the Israelites during their journey through the wilderness. The historical context is crucial to understanding their significance.At this point in their journey, the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. This setting was a pivotal moment in their history. The generation that had witnessed the Exodus from Egypt had largely passed away, and a new generation was preparing to inherit the land that God had promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.In Deuteronomy 5, Moses is reiterating the commandments to this new generation as a reminder of God's covenant and expectations. The historical context adds depth to these commandments. They were not just rules; they were a reaffirmation of the covenant between God and His people. They served as the moral compass for a nation about to establish its own identity and society in the Promised Land.This article emphasizes the importance of remembering God’s nature and His deeds, which is deeply connected to the historical context. The Israelites had witnessed God's miraculous acts, including the parting of the Red Sea and the provision of manna in the wilderness. These experiences were meant to remind them of God's faithfulness and power as they stood at the threshold of their new homeland.The commandments cover a wide range of ethical principles, from honoring one's parents and not committing murder or adultery to not coveting what belongs to others. These laws were not only moral but also practical, helping to establish a just and cohesive society as the Israelites settled in the Promised Land.Interestingly, we explore the concept of Scripture not merely as a passive document but as a dynamic force that can profoundly shape our worldview and actions when we engage with it deeply. It underscores the need for each believer to wrestle with Scripture, extract personal insights, and apply these in their everyday life.At the heart of this message is a call to action based on Jesus' teachings. It emphasizes the essence of living out our faith actively and intentionally, a concept deeply rooted in the historical context of the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land. It further highlights the importance of imparting the wisdom of Scripture to future generations, both within and outside our homes. This article reminds us that the practice of faith is not an isolated act but a journey of transformation that impacts our personal lives and extends to our community.One of the central points of this article is the examination of the Ten Commandments as principles of freedom, a concept that was significant in the historical context of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. It challenges the conventional perception of these laws as restrictive rules and reframes them as pathways to a fulfilled life. It underscores God’s infinite patience and mercy for those who love Him, highlighting that our past decisions and actions can have enduring effects, but God's mercy is unending.Ultimately, this article serves as a reminder of our faith journey, deeply rooted in historical events. It emphasizes the importance of intentional engagement with Scripture, meaningful relationships, and living out our faith. It invites us to look at the Ten Commandments from a fresh perspective and embrace them as guiding principles that shape our worldview, influence our decisions, and guide us towards a life of fulfillment. It calls us to not only read Scripture but to wrestle with it, internalize it, and let it transform us from within.This is more than an article; it's a call to live out our faith to the fullest, drawing wisdom from a historical foundation that still resonates today in Deuteronomy 5!

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What Is Fasting And Why Do Christians Do It?

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Maybe you’ve skipped meals to lose weight or even simply because you’re too busy or tired to cook, but that’s not fasting. Fasting isn’t some magic ritual to try to get God to answer our prayer. It isn’t about harming our bodies or depriving ourselves. Fasting is about what we gain from the process: focus on God. Fasting is a discipline of abstaining from something good, like food, so we can concentrate on our spiritual lives and find satisfaction in God.  Fasting is all about a desire for God. The decision to fast should not be motivated by arrogance or legalism. When teaching on this topic, Jesus said, “when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Why should I fast? When talking about fasting, Jesus begins, “When you fast…” Notice that he doesn’t say, “If you fast…” (Matthew 6:16). Fasting isn’t commanded in the Bible, but Jesus seems to assume that His followers would fast. Many people fasted in the Bible: Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9-18), Daniel (Daniel 9:3-5), David (2 Samuel 12:16 and Psalm 35:13), Jesus (Matthew 4:2), Paul (Acts 9:9), and many more. People also fasted for different reasons: to mourn, to humble oneself before God, and to focus on praying to God for guidance or preparation. God will show you that He is what we are truly desperate for. During Jesus’ fast, He quoted Deuteronomy and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) Fasting can help us understand this truth with new meaning. We can better understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life, who sustains us and supplies our greatest needs (John 6:26-35). If you decide to fast, you will be physically reminded of your spiritual need. And when you are, God will show you that He is what we are truly desperate for. How do I fast? Don't simply give up eating. Set aside intentional time to focus on God. Read the Bible and pray when you would normally be eating or preparing food. Here are some great places to see what the Bible says about fasting: Psalm 16 Psalm 42:1-2 Psalm 63:1-5 Psalm 19:7-14 Psalm 119 Philippians 4:11-13 John 15:1-8 Some people have medical issues that prohibit them from fasting from food. Ask the Lord if there is another way in which you can fast. Maybe fast from social media or television, and use that time to pray and read the Bible. Practical Tips for Fasting 1. Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal. 2. Continue to drink water to stay hydrated. While some individuals in the Bible fasted from both food and water, this choice can be dangerous if you’re not experienced with fasting or haven’t consulted a medical professional. 3. If you’re accustomed to drinking caffeine, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake for a few days before you fast or you may suffer headaches. 4. Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals, including raw foods before and after. 5. Tell only people that you must, but try to be considerate of others in your schedule if you fast. 6. Make a firm, prayerful commitment before you begin that you can remember while you’re fasting. Your commitment to fast is between you and God, so be sure to make a sincere, wholehearted commitment.  7. Consciously reflect on Scripture and your experience. Your physical response will often reveal spiritual truths.

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Berwyn UMC Food Pantry: A Month of Making a Difference

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

The Berwyn United Methodist Church food pantry continues its mission to support and uplift the local community. As we reflect on the past month, we're excited to share the incredible impact our food pantry has had on the lives of our neighbors in need. Vital Statistics 1. 31 Unique Households: The Berwyn, PA UMC food pantry served 31 distinct households during the past month. Each household represents a unique family or group of individuals facing food insecurity in our community. 2. 52 Total Visits: Over the course of the month, these 31 households made a total of 52 visits to our food pantry. This statistic underscores the ongoing and consistent support that many families rely on to put food on their tables. 3. 102 People Benefited: Among these 31 households, a total of 102 individuals were able to access the essential food resources they needed. This means that more than a hundred of our neighbors had their basic nutritional needs met through the generosity of our community. 4. 13 Minors Supported: Of the 102 individuals served, 13 were minors. Ensuring that children have access to nutritious meals is a top priority for the Berwyn, PA UMC food pantry, and we're proud to play a role in nourishing the future of our community. 5. 66 Seniors Assisted: On the other end of the age spectrum, 66 individuals over the age of 65 were among those who benefited from our food pantry services. Providing assistance to our elderly neighbors is a vital aspect of our mission, as we recognize the unique challenges they face. 6. Welcoming 2 New Households: In the spirit of growth and outreach, our food pantry welcomed two new households during the past month. These additions demonstrate the expanding reach of our services and the increasing trust of the community in our mission. At Berwyn UMC, we understand that the impact of our food pantry extends far beyond these statistics. Each number represents a story, a family, a life positively affected by the compassion and generosity of our volunteers and donors. We are immensely grateful for the support of our community, which enables us to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of those facing food insecurity in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. As we look forward to the coming months, we remain committed to our mission of providing nourishment, hope, and a sense of community to those in need. Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient Berwyn, PA, where no one has to go to bed hungry. Thank you for being a part of our journey to make a positive impact on our neighbors' lives.

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Book Recommendation - Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right

Posted By Marjorie Smink

Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right by Bob Edgar© 2006 Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity) is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church – and the author of this book. He has been a pastor, teacher, college chaplain, Claremont School of Theology president, and six-term member of the U.S. House of Representative from the Seventh District of Pennsylvania. Edgar contends that the radical religious right has placed the wrong issues (opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research) at the forefront of the moral agenda for America. The moral issues that are central to America’s faithful majority (Middle Church) are peace, poverty, and planet Earth. Middle Church is the place where people of faith – Christians, Jews, Muslims – can come together and replace tolerance, social justice, and love at the top of our country’s political agenda.

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BUMNS Nursery School Update October 2023

Posted By Jane Harris

The nursery school has returned and once again the hallways are full of happy smiles and children’s laughter. There have been a few tears from our youngest friends but they will soon dry up. Every year It always amazes us how quickly the children adapt to their new environments and routines. October brings field trips to the pumpkin patch and Halloween. We will be having our annual Halloween parade at the end of October. Thank you to the church for the invitation to the BUMC Trunk and Treat on October 28th. Please take a look at all the happy faces in the ‘First day at BUMNS’ photos on the notice board inside the entrance to the nursery school.

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Spreading Joy: 2023 Holiday Toy, Gift, and Gift Card Drive by Methodist Services

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The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and giving. It's a time when communities come together to make a positive impact on the lives of those who may be facing challenging circumstances. Methodist Services, an organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families in need, is once again gearing up for its annual Holiday Toy, Gift, and Gift Card Drive in 2023. Methodist Services: A Beacon of Hope Methodist Services is on a mission to make a positive impact on the lives of children, adults, and families who are dealing with difficult situations like limited resources, poverty, homelessness, disabilities, and educational inequities. They provide a wide range of life-enriching programs that cover early childhood education, school-age programs, housing services, family support, mental health and counseling services, and nutrition programs. Their holistic approach recognizes that every aspect of a person's life is interconnected. The Annual Holiday Gift Drive One of the heartwarming initiatives by Methodist Services is their annual holiday gift drive. In 2023, the organization aims to provide a special gift to each of the 1,200 children and teenagers they serve. Additionally, they plan to gift every participant in their Education, Housing, Counseling, and Care Management programs with a gift card. These gifts are not just material items; they represent a gesture of compassion and a way to bring a little bit of joy and comfort to those who are facing adversity during the holiday season. How You Can Make a Difference Methodist Services believes in the power of community, and they invite you to join their mission. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, can make a significant impact. Here's how you can get involved: Donate Gifts and Gift Cards: Consider donating new and unwrapped gifts suitable for various age groups. From board books for infants to video games for high schoolers, your gifts can make children's holidays special. Gift Cards: Families treasure gift cards from popular retailers like Target, Kohl’s, Walmart, Best Buy, and Old Navy. These cards provide flexibility and allow recipients to choose items they need or desire. Baby Care Items: Many of the programs serve young children and families who could benefit from donations of new car seats, bouncy seats, high chairs, boxes of disposable diapers of all sizes, and other baby care items. Gift Wrapping Supplies: Methodist Services also appreciates receiving wrapping paper, gift bags, and bows. These items make the presentation of gifts even more special. Let's Come Together The deadline for donations is the week of December 11th, so it's time to start thinking about how you can contribute to this wonderful cause. Your generosity can bring smiles and happiness to mothers, children, and others during the holiday season. By donating, you can help Methodist Services fulfill their mission of making children's holidays special and supporting families in need. As we embrace the spirit of giving this holiday season, let's come together as a community and show those facing adversity that we care. Your kindness can make a world of difference in the lives of those who need it most. Suggested Donations:Young Children: Infants & Toddlers: Board Books, Toddler Toys, Mr. Potato Head, Peg Puzzles, Push & Ride-on Toys, Bibs, Diapers & WipesPre-School: Ages 3-5 Years: Age-Appropriate Books, Mr./Ms. Potato Head, Age-Appropriate Toys, Safe Blocks, Art Supplies (Paints, Finger Paints, Markers), Playdough, Fun Foam, Kinetic Sand, Craft Supplies (Ribbon, Yarn, Fabric, etc), Trucks, Cars, Active Toys, Dolls (African American, Latino, Other), Wooden Puzzles, Dress Up Clothing & Accessories, Learning GamesElementary School: Ages 6-10 Years: Action Figures, Legos, 30 to 50 Piece Puzzles, Age-Appropriate Books, Sports Equipment, Team Apparel, Arts & Crafts Supplies, Trucks, Train & Car Sets, Dolls (African American, Latino, etc.)Middle School: Ages 11-14 Years: Age-appropriate books, Bi-Lingual Books and games, Arts and crafts Supplies, Science Kits, Robotic Sets, Beauty and grooming Items, Sports Equipment, Team Apparel, Jewelry, Video Games, Gaming SystemsHigh School: Ages 15-18 Years: Age-appropriate books, Gift Cards, Arts and crafts Supplies, Sports Equipment, Beauty and grooming Items, Jewelry, Video Games, Gaming SystemsYoung Adult: Ages 18-24 Years: Pillows & Twin Comforters, Twin Bed Sheets & Mattress Protectors, Towel Sets & Washcloths, Shower Curtains & Liners, Dish Cloths, Board Games, Journals, Small Room Trash Cans, Dish Sets, Pots/PansAdults in Our Programs: Books, Jewelry, Beauty & Grooming Items, Personal Care Baskets, Hats, Scarves, Watches Monetary Donation

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Ministries as Leaves on a Tree: Embracing Change and Renewal in Our Church Community

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Dear Berwyn Church Family, As we stand at the threshold of a new season in the life of our church, a season marked by introspection and renewal, it's natural to feel a sense of both sadness and celebration. We find ourselves in a time when we are called to spend less, shed excess expenses, and even repurpose our facilities. Each ministry or way of being the church we must let go of is like a beloved leaf on a tree that has brought beauty and vitality during its time. However, we must remember that letting go is not a sign of failure but a testament to our church's capacity for growth and change, just as it is for the trees in the fall. Ministries as Leaves on a Tree: Consider for a moment the image of a mighty tree standing tall in the forest. As the seasons shift and the days grow shorter, the tree sheds its leaves, letting go of the vibrant symbols of life that once adorned its branches. From one perspective, this act of shedding leaves can be perceived as a loss, akin to how we may lament the closure of a cherished church ministry. But let us view this through a different lens—a lens that acknowledges the profound wisdom of nature and faith. Just as the tree releases its leaves to prepare for the next season, we, too, must make decisions about our ministries to ensure our church's vitality and mission. Like the tree, we're not failing; we're evolving and adapting to meet new needs. The Spiritual Lessons in Change: In the face of change, we are reminded of the spiritual journey that we all embark upon. Change is an essential part of life and can be challenging and beautiful. These changes may seem like a painful loss, but it's also an opportunity for new growth and transformation. As Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV) reminds us: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot." Just as the fallen leaves nourish the soil for future growth in the forest, the lessons and experiences from our past ministries enrich the fertile ground of our church community. The Blessings of Renewal and Dormancy: In this season of transition, let us remember that each decision is guided by faith and a vision for the future. We celebrate the life and impact of every ministry that has graced our church and cherish the spiritual growth and connections they have fostered. As we enter this time of change, we must also acknowledge the spiritual significance of dormancy. Just as trees seem asleep, dormant, or even dead during the winter months, they are, in fact, resting, regrouping, and preparing for new growth that comes with the following spring. Without the shedding of leaves and the restful winter period, the tree would die, and no new life would be possible. Similarly, in our church, by letting go of ministries that may have served their purpose, we create space for spiritual renewal and the emergence of new, vibrant ministries. Closing: Dear friends, may we move forward with hearts filled with gratitude for the past and hope for the future. Let us not view these changes as failures but as opportunities for God's grace and purpose to manifest in our church's life. With faith in our hearts and a vision for a stronger, more vibrant church community, let us embark on this journey of change together. Just as the tree sheds its leaves to prepare for the next season's growth, we, too, let go of what was to make way for what will be. And in the dormant seasons, let us find rest and renewal, trusting that God's plan is unfolding and new life will spring forth. Pastor Kevin Rutledge

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Why United Methodists Should Watch the UMC Family Gathering Video

Posted By Kevin Rutledge

The UMC Family Gathering video, featuring Pastor Adam Hamilton, provides valuable insights into the current state of the United Methodist Church and offers hope for its future. In the video, Pastor Hamilton addresses the concerns raised by individuals like Mark Tooley from the Institute for Religion and Democracy, who believe that the church is in decline and facing an uncertain future.1. A Different Perspective on Church Decline While it is true that many churches, including United Methodists and Southern Baptists, are experiencing decline, Pastor Hamilton shares a different perspective. He highlights the fact that there are still vital churches in America, and the message preached by United Methodists has the greatest potential for reaching 21st-century non-religious and nominally religious people.2. The Power of the Gospel Pastor Hamilton's personal journey, from being baptized Catholic to attending a Methodist Church, then becoming an atheist, and finally rediscovering his faith in a Pentecostal Church, demonstrates the power of the gospel. He emphasizes the importance of asking questions and seeking answers that resonate with individual beliefs and experiences.3. The Methodist Church's Rich History The Methodist Church's rich history, as outlined in the Book of Discipline, can be a source of inspiration for United Methodists. Pastor Hamilton's own experience of reading about John Wesley and the teachings of the Methodist Church at Oral Roberts University sparked a deep connection with the denomination.4. Hope for the Future Despite the challenges the United Methodist Church faces, Pastor Hamilton remains hopeful. He points out that Millennials are 45% more likely to attend a mainline Church like the United Methodist Church than an Evangelical or non-denominational Church. Similarly, Gen Z is 33% more likely to choose churches like the United Methodist Church over other options.5. Personal Testimonies of Growth To further support his argument, Pastor Hamilton shares stories of United Methodist pastors whose churches are growing and who are excited about the future. He also mentions the baptism of 65 people and the addition of over 200 new members to his own church, Resurrection, in recent weeks.In conclusion, the UMC Family Gathering video offers a fresh perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the United Methodist Church. By watching this video, United Methodists can better understand the church's current state and find hope for its future.{[ youtube id:'TbWnChNufrQ' ]}

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The Power of Persistent Prayer: Lessons from Jacob

Posted By Pastor Kevin Ruteldge

In the ancient scriptures, we find the story of Jacob, a man whose audacity and tenacity in prayer have much to teach us. Jacob, in his determination and courage, approached God not with timidity but with boldness. He wrestled with God, refusing to let go until he received his blessing. From this approach, we can learn to shift our prayer lives from timid to tenacious.But how does Jacob's prayer life differ from our modern understanding of prayer? We often approach God with humility and gentleness, hesitating to ask for what we need. We may fear asking for specific outcomes, worrying about what it means if God doesn't answer in the way we hope. Yet, when we look at Jacob, we see a different picture. Jacob asked God directly for what he wanted, but he refused to let go until he received his blessing. This audacious prayer invites us to approach God boldly, asking for what we truly want and need. Next Step: Reflect on your prayer life. Do you approach God with timidity or boldness? Consider one thing you deeply desire but have hesitated to ask God for. In your following prayer, express this desire openly and directly to God, just like Jacob.Part 1: Wrestling in Prayer: Holding on to GodWrestling with God may seem foreign or even irreverent to some. Yet, this is precisely what Jacob did. He held on to God, refusing to let go until he received his blessing. In this, we find a powerful lesson for our own prayer lives. Like Jacob, we too can hold on to God in prayer, even when the going gets tough. We can ask for what we truly want and need and refuse to give up until we see the fulfillment of our petitions. This does not mean our prayers will always be answered however we want. Sometimes, the wrestling can leave us with a "limp" - a reminder of the struggle. But in these moments of wrestling and struggle, we often experience the most growth and transformation. Next Step: In your next prayer session, imagine yourself wrestling with God, holding on, and refusing to let go until you receive your blessing. Part 2: A Deeper Engagement with God: Jacob's LegacyThrough Jacob's example, we learn that prayer is more than a gentle conversation with God. It can be a rigorous wrestle, a place where we refuse to let go until we receive our blessing. In this audacious engagement with God, we don't just gain a blessing but also joy, redemption, and a transformative experience in our prayer lives.As we take the path of audacious prayer like Jacob, we might find our lives transformed. So, let's shake off the timidity and ask, seek, and knock with all our hearts. Let's engage with God deeper, wrestling in prayer and refusing to let go until we receive our blessing. Next Step:1. For the next week, approach your prayer times with the audacity and tenacity of Jacob.2. Be bold in your requests, wrestle with God, and hold on until you receive your blessing.3. Reflect on how this changes your relationship with God and your experience of prayer.ConclusionJacob's story offers us a profound lesson in the power of persistent and audacious prayer. His unwavering determination and boldness in approaching God are an inspiring example for us to follow. Rather than approaching our Creator with timidity and hesitation, let us embrace the audacity to ask for what we truly desire and need. Just as Jacob refused to let go until he received his blessing, may we, too, hold on to God in prayer, even when faced with adversity. While our prayers may not always be answered as we hope, it is in the wrestling and struggle that we often find growth and transformation. As we embark on this journey of audacious prayer, may we not only gain blessings but also experience joy, redemption, and a deeper connection with the Divine. So, let us cast off our timidity and engage with God on a profound level, wrestling in prayer and refusing to let go until we receive our blessing. In the coming week, as you approach your prayer times with the audacity and tenacity of Jacob, reflect on how this transformational approach changes your relationship with God and your experience of prayer.

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The Transformative Power of Waiting: Lessons from Sarah and Abraham's Journey

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

The concept of waiting is often associated with frustration and stagnation. But what if we told you that waiting could be a beautiful and transformative experience? The story of Sarah and Abraham, biblical figures from the Old Testament, sheds light on the transformative power of waiting and the unwavering faithfulness of God.The Art of Patient ExpectationSarah and Abraham waited for years for the fulfillment of a divine promise - a child. When God fulfilled this promise, they welcomed it with immense hospitality. Their story illuminates the beauty of God's promises and the transformative power of hope and waiting.In a world where instant gratification often takes precedence, Sarah and Abraham's story teaches us the art of patient expectation. Their unwavering faith in God's promise, despite the passing years and their doubts, inspires us to embrace the waiting season in our lives.Embracing Doubt as a Path to FaithTheir journey also explores the concept of doubt, a familiar feeling during periods of waiting. Sarah and Abraham themselves doubted whether what they were waiting for was something God intended to give them. Despite their doubts, God met them with grace and love, teaching us that doubt can prepare us for receiving God's blessings.Doubt can serve as a stepping stone rather than being a barrier to faith. It challenges us to question, seek understanding, and strengthens our faith. As Sarah and Abraham's doubt didn't deter God's plan, our doubts need not hinder our journey toward transformation.Becoming Catalysts for TransformationTheir story prompts reflection on our lives, questioning whether we could be catalysts for transformation within our communities. Could God make the impossible possible in your life? Could you serve as a messenger of hope to those in need? These thought-provoking questions encourage us to grapple with the reality of God's promises and inspire us to be agents of change in the world.Sarah and Abraham's story is not merely a historical account but a timeless reminder that we, too, can be agents of transformation. By embracing our waiting periods with faith and purpose, we can inspire change and bring hope to those around us.Waiting as a Journey, Not Just a DestinationThe story of Sarah and Abraham demonstrates that waiting, though often challenging, can lead to transformative blessings. Their tale serves as a reminder of God's unwavering faithfulness and His power to turn the impossible into possible.What You Can Do: Share Your JourneyDon't keep your transformative experiences and insights to yourself. Share your story with others. By sharing your journey and lessons, you can inspire and uplift those around you. Your experiences may encourage someone else to navigate their waiting season with faith and resilience.In conclusion, let us remember that waiting is not just about the destination; it's about the transformational journey. As you navigate your seasons of waiting, take heart in the lessons of Sarah and Abraham. Embrace the transformative power of waiting with unwavering faith, knowing God's promises are always fulfilled in His perfect time.

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Share Your Transformational Journey

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

I'm deeply moved by the belief that stories possess an enduring power to connect, inspire, and remind us of the constant presence of God's goodness in our lives. Today, I extend a heartfelt invitation to all of you who have consistently supported our church ministry through your unwavering prayers, active presence, generous gifts, talents, and powerful witness. I am thrilled to invite you to share your personal stories of transformation through the ministries that have touched your lives.Our journey together has been filled with remarkable moments of faith and growth. We believe that every story matters - whether it's about how our church helped you better understand God, forge meaningful relationships, or provided vital support during challenging times. Your experiences are a source of inspiration, not only to us but to those who may be seeking similar encounters in their own lives.By taking just a few minutes to share your stories, whether they're grand and extraordinary or simple yet profound, you have the incredible opportunity to show how this church, as it faithfully lives out God's calling, has been and continues to be a blessing for others. Your story might be the spark that ignites someone else's faith journey. Imagine the impact you can have on their life by sharing your story.Here's how you can make a difference: Click the link below to access a web form where you can share your story with us and with others.Share Your StoryTogether, let's explore how the stories of what God has done for people through the church's ministries can serve as a guiding light for those seeking answers today. Your willingness to participate and share your transformative journey is deeply appreciated.I want to take a moment to express my profound gratitude for each and every one of you. You are an integral part of our vibrant community, and your contributions have been instrumental in the work we do. Thank you for considering this opportunity to share your experiences and the profound ways in which our church has touched your lives.

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Embracing Change: A Call to Revitalize the Modern Church

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

At a time when trust in the Church is at an all-time low, the need for a significant transformation from within has never been more crucial. Our spiritual leaders challenge us to move away from the status quo and forge a fresh path forward, grounded on the unwavering foundation of Jesus Christ.The Resistance to ChangeChange is never easy, and the Church is no exception. Yet, the danger lies not in embracing Change but in resisting it, waiting for things to return to how they were. This resistance leads to stagnation, where the Church risks losing relevance in a rapidly evolving society. Ultimately, our security lies not in the ever-changing world but in Jesus, who remains steadfast amidst all changes.There are several reasons why we can be resistant to change. Here are a few:Fear of the Unknown: Change often involves stepping into the unknown, and this uncertainty can be daunting. We may wonder about the implications of Change on our roles, our longstanding relationships, and the future of the Church. Fear of the unknown can paralyze us and prevent us from embracing Change.Fear of Losing Our Identity: Most churches have been the same for years. How they are perceived by its members and the broader community, at least in our minds, is set. We don't want to risk too much Change because we wonder if we will be the same Church if we change. Also, those of us committed to the Church have it as a crucial part of understanding ourselves. If the church changes, will we still be able to identify ourselves within it?The Need for Stability: Let's face it: the world around us is changing rapidly. What once felt safe and normal is hard to find and identify. The very changes that cause the Church to need to change are the things that keep us wanting things to stay the same. In a world where nothing seems anchored and nothing feels safe from Change, the Church can provide some steadfastness, and we want to keep it that way.The Value of Spiritual Pursuits in a Changing WorldThe enduring value of spiritual pursuits and the Gospel's transformative power becomes more evident amid societal advancements. The call to share Jesus's good news with the world is more urgent than ever. As believers, we are part of God's grand narrative, tasked with carrying forward the legacy of the Great Commission.Embracing TransformationOur faith stories are potent narratives that showcase the remarkable journey of spiritual transformation. These stories remind us of the profound impact of encountering God on our lives. They serve as a testament to the thrill of spiritual growth, the joy of participating in God's work, and the resilience of human faith.These narratives inspire us to embrace Change, not as a mere reaction to external forces, but as a deliberate and purposeful journey towards spiritual renewal. Here's a deeper exploration of this idea:The Thrill of Spiritual Transformation: Our faith stories are filled with awakening, revelation, and personal growth moments. They remind us that the most profound changes often begin within ourselves. The thrill of spiritual transformation lies in discovering new dimensions of faith, deepening our relationship with God, and finding a more significant purpose in our lives.Embracing the Change in the World: The world and the Church have changed. As followers of Christ, we are called to be relevant and responsive to society's evolving needs and challenges. The words of Jesus remind us that even the grandest human accomplishments will eventually pass away. Therefore, our focus should be on what truly matters: spreading love, compassion, and salvation to all.Beyond Returning to Glory Days: It's important to clarify that the transformation we seek within the Church is not about returning to some perceived "glory days" of the past. Nostalgia can sometimes cloud our vision and impede progress. Instead, our faith stories call us to envision a future where the Church continues to fulfill its mission in a rapidly evolving world.Our faith stories are a testament to the thrill of spiritual transformation and the joy of participating in God's work. They inspire us to embrace Change, challenge the status quo, and navigate the trials that come our way.The Church's MissionThe importance of the Church's mission to share the good news of Jesus cannot be overstated. The Gospel can upend the world and bring hope to the suffering. And with the ongoing task of the Great Commission, we are encouraged to share our faith stories and rekindle the excitement of the transformation that the Spirit provides.Heeding the Call to Embrace ChangeSo, let us heed the call to embrace change and keep moving forward, relying on Jesus as our unshakeable foundation. Let us rekindle the excitement of sharing the Gospel, bearing witness to its transformative power. And let us navigate these challenges together, united in our mission and driven by our enduring faith.Indeed, the greatest challenge facing the modern Church isn't external but internal. The Church's future lies in our willingness to embrace transformation and continue sharing the unshakeable foundation of Jesus in an ever-changing world.

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Join Our Thoughtful Journey: Exploring "The Ballot and the Bible"

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Are curious, intrigued or mortified by the intricate relationship between religion and politics? Do you enjoy engaging discussions over delicious appetizers and drinks? If so, we have an exciting invitation for you. We're starting a small, passionate group to dive into the thought-provoking book, "The Ballot and the Bible: How Scripture Has Been Used and Abused in American Politics and Where We Go from Here" by Kaitlyn Schiess. Our gatherings will be more than just book discussions; they'll be opportunities for intellectual growth and meaningful conversations. Join us at a local restaurant as we embark on this enlightening journey.About the Book:"The Ballot and the Bible" is a captivating exploration of the intersection of religion and politics in America. Kaitlyn Schiess delves into the ways in which scripture has been wielded throughout American history to shape political beliefs, policies, and even voting decisions. From early colonial times to the present day, this book unravels the complex relationship between faith and politics, shedding light on how the Bible has both united and divided our nation.Why Join Our Group:Our small group aims to create a welcoming and intellectually stimulating environment where we can collectively explore the rich content of "The Ballot and the Bible." Here's what you can expect from our gatherings:Methodical Exploration: We will read sections of the book before each meeting, allowing us to delve deep into the content and ideas presented by Kaitlyn Schiess.Thoughtful Discussions: Our conversations will revolve around the main themes, arguments, and ideas from the book. We encourage diverse perspectives and respectful dialogue, making every meeting an opportunity for intellectual growth.Biblical Insights: Since the book deals extensively with the use of scripture in American politics, we will also discuss and analyze the Bible passages mentioned, exploring their historical and contemporary relevance.Appetizers and Atmosphere: We meet at a local restaurant. The food will serve as the perfect backdrop for our gatherings. Enjoy delicious appetizers and drinks as we engage in meaningful conversations.How to Join:If you're excited about the prospect of exploring "The Ballot and the Bible" with like-minded individuals, we welcome you to join our group. Here's how:Contact Us: Reach out to Pastor Kevin at to express your interest and receive updates about our meetings or use the link below to express interest. We'll let you know when we will start gathering a few weeks before it startsGet the Book: Purchase a copy of "The Ballot and the Bible" by Kaitlyn Schiess or borrow it from your local library.RSVP: Prior to each meeting, we'll send out invitations. RSVP to let us know you'll be attending so that we can reserve the right size table.At the intersection of religion and politics lies a fascinating and often contentious terrain. "The Ballot and the Bible" promises to be an eye-opening guide through this complex landscape. Together, we'll explore the rich history of how scripture has been used and abused in American politics and contemplate where we go from here. Don't miss out on this opportunity to engage with a captivating book and a vibrant group of fellow readers. We look forward to welcoming you into our fold!

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Avoiding Versitis: Preventing a Lego-Like Misinterpretation

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

In the ever-evolving landscape of faith discussions, revisiting our approach to scripture is essential. The phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin" has been central to many debates concerning human sexuality. As we reconsider this saying, we begin with the fundamental idea that context matters, drawing a surprising parallel between understanding scripture and building with Lego blocks.The Lego Lesson:My son has a Lego set with 253 pieces. This Lego set can be put together in one of three ways. It can form a parrot, a frog, or a fish. What's fascinating about this Lego set is that the same pieces can be used to create different things, depending on your perspective. The set can only form one of those things, but each is radically different. You have the power to decide which model to build.Legos vs. Bible Verses:How we previously learned to read the Bible can sometimes hinder our understanding of its profound message. We often read the Bible as a collection of verses, like Lego bricks, that can be pulled out and dealt with as if they can stand on their own. The Bible—a compilation of 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 31,102 verses- is treated like a big box of Legos. We assemble the verses into a picture that we choose and think the worldview and theology built is biblical because all of the parts are from the Bible. Yet, when we focus on individual verses, picking and choosing from various parts of the Bible, we risk forming an image that mirrors our thoughts and beliefs rather than being challenged by the scripture that reflects the image of Jesus.A Collective Journey of Understanding:Our task is not merely to decide what to build with the Lego pieces of scripture. Instead, our responsibility is to work together in reading, interpreting, and applying scripture as a faith community. This collaborative effort ensures that we avoid the trap of picking and choosing Bible verses to fit the image we want to create. It challenges us to focus on the whole message of scripture.Join the Conversation:But understanding scripture is not a solitary endeavor. It's a journey best taken in the company of others who share a passion for exploring the depths of faith and scripture. We invite you to be a part of a faith community that wrestles with scripture, the questions we bring to it, and how we live it out.In our community, we value diversity in thought and interpretation. We understand faith isn't about conformity in how scripture is interpreted and applied but rather a shared exploration of its profound meaning. Join us in this journey of faith and understanding, where questions are welcomed and grace abounds.Conclusion:Breaking out of a Lego-building way of reading scripture and instead understanding the context empowers us to approach the Bible more deeply and accurately. In our faith journey, let us remember that, just as Lego pieces form a cohesive creation, scripture verses combine to convey a unified message. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that delve deeper into essential aspects of faith and understanding.

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Understanding Life’s Crossroads: Discovering the Significance of Closed Doors

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Have you ever been faced with a closed door in life and wondered, 'Does God really open a window when He closes a door?' This age-old adage is frequently used to provide comfort during difficult times. But it's essential to understand the deeper implications of this saying and how it can shape our understanding of faith.Life is akin to an overwhelming menu at a diner, with a plethora of options to choose from. Decision-making can be a challenging task, and waiting for divine guidance might seem like the easiest route. However, sometimes, it's about trusting in God and taking that leap of faith. When a door closes, it might feel like a setback, causing seeds of doubt, confusion, and worry. But it's crucial to realize that an end is often a disguised beginning. The closed door might just be an indication that we were heading down the wrong path, and it might be a sign to reorient ourselves. As Christians, we need to trust God's grand design, even when it involves closing some doors behind us. Instead of waiting for God to show us the way, we need to move forward with faith. God guides us to the right door, but it's up to us to have the courage to knock and enter. So, what does this mean in our daily lives? Let’s look at an amusing incident involving a toddler, a locked door, and an open window. The child was encouraged to retrieve the keys from a locked house by climbing through an open window. This incident is a light-hearted analogy to explain the deeper spiritual truth. Sometimes, we are faced with a locked door, and instead of understanding that God has closed that door for a reason, we attempt to open it ourselves. Instead, we should focus on the open windows around us, trust in God's plan, and leap through them with faith.So next time you encounter a closed door in your life, don’t fret. Look around for the open windows. Move forward with faith, and trust in God's grand design. After all, when one door closes, another one opens. And who knows? That new door may lead to a path more beautiful and rewarding than the one we initially had in mind.

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The Role of Prayer and Doubt in Faith and Knowing God

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

It is common for individuals to grapple with doubts and questions surrounding their faith and understanding of the Bible. Many feel their prayers are too insignificant to matter to God, or they struggle with expressing their doubts about biblical teachings. However, it's crucial to understand that these doubts and questions are natural and integral to our spiritual journey.Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently been applied to biblical study.  A site was developed to enable you to "interact with biblical characters".  There are two problems with this approach to the bible. The first is that AI learning is only has diverse and comprehensive as the information fed into it.  If the source material is the commentary, sermons, and blog posts, of predominantly white conservative men, then the responses will be shaped by that interpretation of scripture.  The second problem is that biblical study and faith development cannot be reduced to information in answer out.  The growing in faith is never reducible to putting the bible information into a program and getting the one right answer. Therefore, a well-rounded approach to biblical learning should not rely solely on AI but involve individual study, group discussions, and spiritual encounters.At the core of biblical interpretation is wrestling with the scripture. This involves grappling with challenging concepts and navigating the complexities of AI learning about the Bible. Reducing the Bible to an information problem can limit our understanding. Delving into the Bible's heart is crucial, exploring translations, engaging in small group discussions, and encountering God's spirit. Our journey with faith is not about having the correct answers or beliefs but faith in Christ. Like the biblical heroes mentioned in the book of Hebrews, we may all have moments of doubt and questioning. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all questioned their faith at times, yet they achieved great things by faith.We should feel comfortable asking questions of faith in a safe environment, like the church. Engaging in dialogues about our faith can be a source of comfort and understanding. Through these collective discussions, we can foster growth and deepen our understanding of our faith. Our salvation does not hinge on our beliefs or how we answer questions but rather on our faith in Christ. Regardless of our doubts or questions, we can take comfort in being saved through Christ. Remember, faith involves asking questions, wrestling with the answers, and persistently seeking after God.In conclusion, whether you are grappling with questions about your faith or wrestling with the scripture, remember that you are not alone. Your journey of faith is personal, but it's also one you share with your church community. Don't shy away from asking questions or expressing doubts - they are a part of your faith journey. We can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of our faith by embracing these questions and engaging in dialogue.

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Navigating Life's Choices: An Insight into God's Plan and Our Free Will

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Life often confronts us with challenges that leave us questioning our choices and wondering about the divine plan. It's an intellectual quagmire that brings up existential queries about God's sovereignty and the notion of free will. This intricate discourse was brilliantly unpacked in a recent discussion exploring the intriguing interplay between God's plan and our personal decisions. It is common to hear that our trials are part of God's plan, which can lead to discomfort and confusion. The discourse introduced two ways of understanding God's plan - the blueprint plan and the plan of free will. The blueprint model suggests that everything happens as per God's preordained plan, which can lead to questioning whether our wrong choices have disrupted God's blueprint.On the other hand, the concept of free will can make us question God's absolute authority. An interesting alternative was proposed - viewing God's plan as a navigational compass, guiding us rather than dictating our every move. This perspective fosters a refreshing outlook where our wrong turns do not define us but guide us back to the path through God's grace. It emphasizes the teachings of Jesus and the importance of leaning on God during trials. A look back at the biblical era of the Babylonian exile shed light on God's constant companionship through life's trials.In contrast to the false prophets, Jeremiah's prophecies during this period highlighted that faith in God can bring comfort during difficult times. It was underscored that God is not orchestrating a divine plan but is walking with us, providing strength and guidance. Finally, the discussion delved into applying this understanding of God's plan in our ministry approach. Instead of following a rigid blueprint, we are encouraged to view God's plan as a navigational compass that guides our choices to honor and please God. In conclusion, understanding God's plan as a guiding compass rather than a rigid blueprint provides a liberating perspective on life. It encourages us to honor God through our choices, assuring us that even if we veer off course, God's grace guides us back. This exploration invites us on a journey of faith, grace, and guidance, assuring us that God walks with us, guiding us in our choices and decisions.

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Update from BSA Troop 181

Posted By Debbie Bellew

BSA Troop 181 met weekly in Schieck Hall to work on the American Business merit badge and rank advancement for our younger Scouts, and to prepare for their recent tent camping trip. Two more camping trips are planned for the school year before the big summer camp week over Fourth of July. In addition to learning new skills, the troop enjoys the chance to be of service -- as one example, the entire troop gathered in April to plant flowers on the BUMC grounds. Several older Scouts are currently preparing larger Eagle projects to give back to the community. If you know of boys ages 11-18 who are interested in joining the troop, please email joinpaoli181@gmail.com. Thank you, Berwyn United Methodist Church!

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Book Recommendation - What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Most

Posted By Marjorie Smink

What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Mostby Martin Thielen© 2011Martin Thielen, a senior pastor at Lebanon First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, is widely recognized as a national worship and preaching consultant, seminary teacher, and author. In his latest book, Thielen tackles the title question with his best effort to provide a comprehensive answer. The book is divided into two parts, each focusing on distinct aspects of Christian beliefs.Part I of the book presents a list of ten things that Thielen believes Christians don't need to believe. These include notions such as "Everything in the Bible Should Be Taken Literally" and "Good Christians Don't Doubt." By debunking these commonly held misconceptions, Thielen aims to challenge rigid interpretations of scripture and encourage a more nuanced understanding of faith.Part II of the book offers a contrasting list of ten things that Thielen asserts Christians do need to believe. These essential beliefs revolve around the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By emphasizing the importance of these core tenets, Thielen underscores their capacity to provide meaningful and hopeful answers to life's profound questions.It is worth noting that Thielen's book specifically addresses moderate Christianity, presenting a perspective that is accessible and easily comprehensible. The author aims to distance his message from the judgmental, strident, and narrow-minded version of Christianity associated with the religious right. In doing so, Thielen seeks to promote a more inclusive and compassionate understanding of the faith, encouraging readers to explore the depths of their beliefs and engage with Christianity in a thoughtful and open-minded manner.

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CYEC Update

Posted By Janelle Larson & Kristine Adams

In last month’s The Lighted Cross, Janelle gave us an update on the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre. They were looking to start a Food Pantry to benefit those who need their services. Our Easter Sunday offering collection was earmarked for this food pantry. Well, we surpassed the goal of $750. $766 was collected!CYEC sends their thanks and gratitude for this wonderful gift. This will make a real difference in their community. Janelle will be traveling ot Kenya in May with students and she will provide an update and photos when she returns.

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Nursery School Update For May 2023

Posted By Jane Harris

It seems it was only yesterday that we welcomed our children into school, the year has flown by! It is a bittersweet time of year as we will be saying goodbye to some families who have been with us for many years. We look forward to celebrating our 5 Day children as they graduate preschool and prepare to leave us and continue their journey to kindergarten. We also welcome spring as a time of renewal as we encourage the children to observe the changes around them, including the caterpillars we have in our classrooms as they turn into butterflies.This year has again posed many challenges but we have worked through them with the support of our families and we are hopeful for the next school year. If you know anyone who is looking for a nurturing happy place to send their child, please pass on my email to them, director@bumns.org or check out our website, BUMNS.org, we would love to welcome them to our school. We would like to wish everyone a safe and good summer and look forward to returning in September.

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A Message to Berwyn From Music Director John Lewis

Posted By John Lewis

I want to thank you for all of the support you’ve given me over these past two years at Berwyn UMC. It has been my greatest joy to lead you in music for the greater glory of God. Hearing your voices, in both song and conversation, has enabled me to provide you with a beautiful landscape on which to make music and praise our Savior. I have always held dear your support of me and always knowing that God has great plans for me, and this next chapter, I pray, will be one of those great stepping stones. While the leaving brings sadness, the future is adorned with hope and excitement. What I have experienced with each and everyone of you has been more than just that of ministry, but also friendship. I cherish the conversations and laughter I’ve shared with all of you. The door remains open. Let us continue to share our joys and petitions with one another through phone calls, text messages, letters, and social media. I do not intend to become a stranger. =Once again, I write this statement of farewell with bittersweetness. Please pray for me as I take this next leap of faith in my professional career, just as I will continue to pray for the advancement and deepened spirituality of the Berwyn UMC community. In Christ,John Lewis

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Farwell to Music Director John Lewis

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

With gratitude and sadness, we announce that our talented music director, John Lewis, will be leaving our church to pursue a new opportunity at Newtown United Methodist. John has served our church for the past year and a half, and during this time, he has enriched our worship and strengthened our community in countless ways. Even during my short time here as your pastor, John’s gifts have blessed my own time of worship here at Berwyn, and I am sure he has done the same for you through skillfully directing our choir, playing the organ beautifully, and using his talented voice to sing modern worship music during our special music time. He has also brought in other musicians to share their gifts and bless our worship, making our services even more special and memorable. John’s passion for music and dedication to our church have been evident in all he does. In addition, he has been an excellent leader and mentor to our choir members, encouraging them to reach their full potential and inspiring them to share their love of music with our congregation. As we say goodbye, we want to use this time as an opportunity for reflection and renewed evaluation of our worship and music ministries. We want to evaluate our current practices and explore new possibilities for our worship. We are excited to see where this journey takes us and look forward to sharing our progress with you in the coming months. In the meantime, we are talking with organists that have played for us in the past to guide our worship music and ensure potential fits of their gifts and our future plans. During the summer months, many of us travel, and our schedules are more flexible, which gives us the perfect opportunity to explore new possibilities for our worship. We will experiment with different music styles, locations, and worship styles to see what resonates with our community. Some of the ideas we are exploring include holding dog-friendly worship services in our outdoor worship space, having a dinner church where we gather around a meal and share our faith, hosting a hands-on sensory worship experience called “messy church” and incorporating contemplative worship practices into our services. As we embark on this journey of experimentation and discovery, we ask for your prayers, attendance, support, and feedback. Of course, not everything we try will work, and not everything that works will work right away, but as we prayerfully step out in faith following the Holy Spirit, we know that we will experience God working in our midst in new ways. There are two direct actions that you can take as we embark on this summer of experimentation. First, as we offer new worship styles, invite your friends, family, and neighbors. This could help to grow the community and help new people experience the presence of God. Second, there will be various new opportunities to serve during worship, including setting up and tearing down, greeting people in new ways, and providing refreshments. Watch for emails and our website for upcoming worship and serving opportunities.

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Lent: A Time For Reflection, Prayer & Fasting

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

As we enter the time of Lent, we enter a time of reflection and spiritual discipline practiced by Christians worldwide. It is the 40-day season leading up to Easter and is often marked with fasting, prayer, and self-reflection. It allows us to deepen our spiritual lives and grow our relationship with God.The season of lent originated in the early church as a time of preparation for Easter. Members were received and baptized on Easter, and those who were kicked out of the church because they refused to live by the church’s teaching were readmitted. During Lent, they fasted and prayed. They also studied and prepared for the commitment they were about to make.Now all Christians are invited to participate in the spiritual disciplines that mark the life seeking to grow more in love with Christ. These disciplines include fasting, prayer, and self-examination. John Wesley taught that these Means of Grace were available to all people and were a way through which God works to shape us to be more like Christ.The spiritual discipline most associated with Lent is fasting. Fasting, or giving up something we enjoy or value, is a way to remind ourselves that God should be our primary focus. Our ability or inability to give up that thing shows where in importance that thing is. It can also help us focus on God’s ability and desire to provide for our needs. If we cling to something so tightly that we can’t give it up, maybe we need to do just that to help us understand our dependence on God.Prayer is another Means of Grace focused on during Lent. In prayer, we deepen our communication with God and seek his Guidance and wisdom in our lives. Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. We are encouraged to pray regularly and to make it a priority in our daily routines. When tied with fasting, when we feel the need or desire for what we have given up, we can instead enter a time of prayer, again emphasizing instead our need for God rather than our other desires.In all this, we have entered a time of self-reflection, looking at the things we value and how we spend our time. Are they in line with God’s desire for us and our desire to grow into the person God has created us to be? Are we using all the ways God has made available to us to experience His love and grow more like his Son, Jesus Christ?This year, we will be starting our Lenten practices with a joint service with Paoli United Methodist Church on Ash Wednesday, Wednesday, February 22nd, at 7:00 pm at Berwyn UMC. This service will feature an invitation to the Lenten disciplines, an imposition of ashes to remember our mortality, and communion to remind ourselves that we enter this season to focus first on Christ and we enter this season as a part of a community gathered around His banquet table. Pastor Alice and I hope to see you at this service.Lent is a critical time for those who follow Christ to deepen their spiritual lives, grow in their relationship with God, and be more like Christ in their living through practicing spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer, and self-reflection.How will you make this time Holy this year? 

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Chorus is Relaunching

Posted By John Lewis

Adult Choir is relaunching with a new rehearsal day and time. Many factors influenced this decision, and I hope it will make things easier for everyone and help attract new members. Choir will now be held on MONDAY evenings at 6 pm. Again, many factors influenced this decision, and I hope it will make things easier for all of us and help attract new members!If you are interested in joining us, please join us Monday evenings at 6 pm in the Sanctuary. All levels of singing experience are welcome.

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Scout Toop 181 Update

Posted By Debbie Bellew

Scouts BSA Troop 181 enjoyed a bowling night and a family ski trip in January, and the boys earned the Radio merit badge with guidance from a local ham radio enthusiast. The coming weeks bring a First Aid Meet competition and the next Court of Honor, at which the Scouts will be recognized for their achievements. Many thanks to Berwyn United Methodist for hosting our troop meetings. To the family of any interested boy aged 5th grade and up - please reach out to joinpaoli181@gmail.com and visit us the first Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in Schieck Hall. 

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Book Recommendation - Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings of Sue Monk Kidd

Posted By Marjorie Smink

Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writingsby Sue Monk Kidd© 2006Sue Monk Kidd, a well-respected author of novels and spiritual memoirs, was asked by Guideposts to collect her early inspirational writings into one volume. The stories and essays in this book are the result of that request. They are gathered around thirteen spiritual motifs (Awareness, Compassion, Solitude…) and include reflections on the author’s many roles as mother, daughter, wife, nurse, author. These recollections include her childhood, her marriage, her year in Africa, and many other memories of ordinary moments which compile her spiritual journey. Firstlight became a bridge for the author to return to her early writings – a gift of reunion.

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BUMNS February Update

Posted By Jane Harris

Winter is marching along, and we at the nursery school hope the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow! We look forward to February, a month full of hearts and love. Our rooms and hallways will be filled with red and pink heart projects. We encourage the children to think about being good friends and to be kind to each other. Our 5-day children are encouraged to do kind deeds in February and beyond.  They read, ‘Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler’, and we ask their families and teachers to ‘catch’ them doing something kind and to give them a ‘kindness heart’ to add to and fill the notice board downstairs with their kind deeds. Stay safe and warm!   

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February 2023 Food Pantry Update

Posted By Krstine Adams

Berwyn UMC’s food pantry is open and running strong. The Pantry is open Tuesdays and Thursdays for members of our community to come and “shop” from our pantry room. All the items in the Pantry are donated by others in our area. Individuals can select their own food based on their individual needs. To preserve dignity and privacy, only two people can shop at a time, with a volunteer in the room to help if needed. We are encouraging people to use reusable bags each week. The Pantry is open Tuesdays from 9 am to noon and Thursdays from 2 pm to 6 pm. We ask that each person fill out a slip of paper to let us know how many people are in their household so we can get an idea of how many we are helping. Berwyn is also helping Chester County Food Bank on the third Monday of every month by distributing a food box to the residents of Trinity House. Currently, we help about 45-48 people a month at Trinity House and about 20 people a week at our Pantry. We are fortunate and appreciative that our Food Panty was the recipient of T/E Middle School’s Food Drive last Fall. Food items can be placed in the large bin in the narthex of the Church. Each month there is a list of items the pantry is looking for. Check out The Lighted Cross and our Facebook and Instagram each month for current needs. For February, the pantry is collecting: Personal Hygiene, Pasta, and Sauce.

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UMCOR Responds to Earthquakes in Southern Turkey and Northwest Syria

Posted By UMCOR

Donations to support this international disaster relief and any others that might occur can be made through Berwyn United Methodist Church to UMCOR Advance # 982450. 100% of all gifts gifts to an Advance are used for that project because the overhead costs of UMCOR are supported through regular gifts and the designated UMCOR Sunday offering. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey at 4:17 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, the most powerful earthquake recorded since 1939. In the hours that followed, at least 78 aftershocks were reported, followed by a second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude. More than 5,000 people were killed, with deaths expected to rise. The earthquake also heavily impacted northwest Syria, where 4.1 million people depend on humanitarian assistance. The majority are women and children. At this time, Syrian communities are simultaneously facing an ongoing cholera outbreak and extreme winter weather events, including heavy rain and snow. The humanitarian response is overstretched due to the devastation and cold weather. UMCOR has released an initial solidarity grant to a longstanding humanitarian partner, International Blue Crescent (IBC), which has offices in Turkey. The grant will provide tents, heaters, blankets, warm clothes, ready to eat meals and basic first aid kits.{[ vimeo id:'797167963' ]}

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What about the United Methodist Split?

Posted

Many of the people of Berwyn UMC have been asking questions about the state of the United Methodist Church, its stance on scripture, grace, human sexuality, and its commitment to Christ. This article has a youtube playlist of videos helping answer the question of Why be United Methodist, Do we take the scripture seriously, Do we take the scripture seriously, and is there a future with hope?There are many different positions and accusations made by those with undoubtedly sincerely held beliefs about those who disagree with them. It's impossible to summarize every topic completely, but the following youtube videos should help. They were recorded by Adam Hamilton, Pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. They were in response to videos made by Rob Renfroe, a leader in the Global Methodist Church. There are some differences between the United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church, but the primary cause of division has been the church's stance on human sexuality. Why UMC? {[ youtube id:'62qtzyBVCv8' ]} Love of Scripture {[ youtube id:'us12L0Tsw_c' ]} Human Sexuality {[ youtube id:'YI0Keo9h5E8' ]} Committed to Christ {[ youtube id:'fK7-_cTdawU' ]} A Future of Hope {[ youtube id:'wbNchQ-V4GE' ]} Moving Forward with the UMC {[ youtube id:'hIfuxxowtXI' ]}

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Book Recommendation - I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Posted By Marjorie Smink

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whitenessby Austin Channing Brown© 2018Austin Channing Brown is a speaker, writer and media producer giving inspired leadership on racial justice in our country. Her book provides an intimate view of her life - growing up Black, Christian, and female in White America. She shows how White America’s claim to embrace “diversity” often falls short of its mission. It is an eye-opening look at how white middle-class Evangelicalism has taken part in an era of rising racial hostility, and it invites the reader to confront apathy and identify God’s ongoing work in the world. Austin Brown still has hope for racial equality in American, but it is a shadow of hope.

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A Message From the Lay Leader

Posted By Amy Dodds

Berwyn UMC became our church home soon after Larry and I were married and moved to Devon. We were both graduate students and although we didn't consider ourselves poor, attracted the care and welcome of Ann West and others in the congregation as they stopped by our apartment with not only a welcoming loaf of delicious banana bread, but a bag of groceries. The pastor at that time convinced us that we would be better served living in the Hurd House on the church property than in our apartment—and the rent was reasonable as long as we agreed to turn out the church lights and look after the property. BUMC quickly became our home away from the church homes we had known in Indiana, Virginia, New York and New Hampshire. We continue to find our church home in Berwyn despite moves to Havertown and then Bryn Mawr. First Hannah and then Wilson were baptized and confirmed in the church, attending Sunday School and singing in the choir when they were small. In addition to the wonderful people, ASP, The Peoples Emergency Shelter, Methodist Home, and other mission projects kept our minds and hearts busy and full. I am excited to support the much-needed church food pantry and hope that 2023 will see the church addressing food scarcity both in our immediate community and beyond. We hold tight to the friendships we have fostered through BUMC. The people of BUMC gift my family with love and care and have helped to raise our children in faith when grandparents and extended family are many miles away. We continue to be closely connected with those we love and whom we worship beside. I am excited to see how our church home will continue and expand to share our Christian message through mission and service to the community in 2023.

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Communion Committee Help Needed

Posted By Stephanie Borelly

The Communion Committee is in dire need of more volunteers. Currently, Stephanie Borelly and Judy Fisk are the only two volunteers. If either of them becomes unavailable, there would be no one else to set up Holy Communion. We offer Communion the first Sunday of the month so it is not a long term commitment. If you are interested, please contact the church office or Steph Borelly.

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Food Pantry Update

Posted By Claudia Genuardi

The Food Pantry has taken a big jump forward since we began. I want to offer my gratitude to all of the volunteers that are making it work so well. Many hours each week are going into this project which is serving our community.  Thank you to Carol Nelson, Veronica Mosely, Nancy Atchison, Patty Littlewood, Carol Williams, Jeff Barger, Marge Smink, Jeff Barger, Peggy Robinson, Susan and Vic Burriss and Pastor Kevin Rutledge. You have all lent a hand. On December 20th, T/E Middle School teachers arrived at BUMC to deliver some 1500 food items for our Food Pantry.  The food was collected during a school-wide food drive that benefited two local food pantries, including ours. Many thanks to the students, teachers, staff, parents and others who contributed their time and resources to provide this gift in support of our mission to serve our community.

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The Power to Resist Temptation

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

Dealing with temptation can be difficult, but it is essential for achieving our goals and living a fulfilling life. The power of temptation comes from its ability to get us to act in ways we would prefer not to act, and each person's temptations are unique.  Temptation can come in many forms, from unhealthy food to procrastination, and it can be easy to give in and fall back into bad habits. What might be benign for someone, say eating that extra piece of chocolate cake, can be life-altering for someone else. The goal is never to judge our own temptations and those of others but to identify them and seek to overcome them. However, we can learn to manage and overcome temptation by developing a few strategies and techniques. Watchfulness In Matthew 26:41, Jesus tells his disciples to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This passage reminds us that we have the power to resist temptation through prayer and being vigilant. Being present and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings can help you be more aware of when you are tempted and take steps to resist it. Identify the source of temptation. As you increase in watchfulness, you will grow in your ability to identify the people, places, and things that trigger your temptations. Understanding what triggers your temptations can help you to be more aware of them and take steps to avoid them. It could be something simple, like the location of a vending machine at work, or something more complex, like feeling stressed or anxious. Only as we become aware of what triggers our temptations can we build self-control to avoid them. Build Self Control Self-control is the ability to control one's actions, emotions, and desires rather than being controlled by them. This fruit of the spirit is a crucial aspect of Christian living as it allows us to resist temptations and make choices that align with God's will. We develop self-control through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, allowing us to resist temptations and make choices that align with God's will. Seek support Whom we surround ourselves with can have a tremendous impact on our behaviors. Our parents knew this when they tried to get us to hang out with well-behaved people and avoid people who were bad influences. Small groups, such as Bible study or accountability groups, can play an essential role in helping individuals avoid temptation. In addition, being part of a small group can provide a supportive environment for individuals to share their struggles with temptation and receive encouragement and guidance from others. Ultimately, dealing with temptation is a continuous process and will require a lot of patience and determination. The good news is that we have the example of Jesus Christ, tempted just as we are, and the power of the Holy Spirit available to us. We are not held captive by our desires and actions but are freed from them to live lives that are honor to God and reflect who we want to be in the world. The choice is yours as to whether you are ready to move forward or not. View a sermon from Pastor Kevin on Jesus' Temptation in the Wilderness. {[ mediaplayer media:'48EBE8A4-A8D8-496B-8194-8F76A5BEA761' autoresumeindays:'14' combineplaystatisticsindays:'14' width:'75%' ]}{[ endmediaplayer ]}

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Making Discpleship a Priority in the New Year

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

As we begin a new year, it’s a natural time for reflection and resolution-making. However, our faith is one area of life often overlooked when it comes to goal-setting. On January 1st, we had a Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service, an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to God and renew our promises to live following His will, as well as encouraging us to take steps in growing in faith and holiness. So, this year, let’s resolve to grow in our faith to deepen our understanding and relationship with God. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, challenges us to continue growing in faith throughout our lives, to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). One way to do this is by committing to regular Bible study and prayer. Setting aside time each day to read scripture and communicate with God can profoundly impact our spiritual growth. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Consider finding a study group or accountability partner to keep you on track and share your journey. To help you kick start this resolution, we invite you to join our lunchtime small group on Wednesdays, starting February 1st. We will be reading and discussing the weekly narrative lectionary passages to study scripture in a deeper and more comprehensive way. Another way to grow in faith is by finding ways to put it into action. Look for opportunities to serve in your church, serve on a team, visit the elderly or homebound, or get involved in other church activities that align with your gifting and talents. One team that we are forming right now is a property maintenance team. This team will help us prioritize and budget for the year’s maintenance tasks, help coordinate service and repairs of both the church facility and parsonage and report to the leadership team any areas of concern you may have. As we serve others, we are fulfilling God’s commandment to love our neighbors; Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” We also experience the joy and fulfillment of living out our faith. Additionally, we can grow in faith by being intentional about our relationships with other believers and by being intentional about fellowship in the community of faith. Hebrews 10:25 says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” As we support and encourage one another, we will strengthen our faith. Keep an eye out for various worship opportunities on Sunday mornings and outside of the Sunday worship hour meant to help us experience the presence of God in new ways. We hope to see you at our small group on Wednesdays starting February 1st! Please reach out to Pastor Kevin for more information. And also for information about property maintenance volunteer needs. Let’s journey together in this new year, growing deeper in our understanding of God’s word and closer in our relationship with Him, constantly becoming more perfect in holiness and love of God. Your Servant in Christ, Pastor Kevin Rutledge

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BUMNS January Update

Posted By Jane Harris

The Nursery School wishes you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year! We will welcome the students back to school on January 3rd, including some new students to our 2-Day program. January is usually a calm month after all the festivities at the end of the year. This is a time of the year when the staff sees real growth in the students. Please take notice of our bulletin board in the hallway upstairs. The photographs represent activities happening in our school.

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BUMNS December 2022 Update

Posted By Jane Harris

December is upon us and 2022 is nearly over! The weather may be grey and cold but it is always bright and warm at nursery school. The hallways are filled with colorful holiday projects that the children have worked so hard on. The children are very excited for the holidays. We will be performing our holiday show on December 15th. Even the youngest children have a part to play and all have been practicing their songs. This is a cherished BUMNS tradition and we are happy there are no limits on participation this year.The Nursery School would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy New Year.

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Book Recommendation - Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff...and It’s All Small Stuff

Posted By Marjorie Smink

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff...and It’s All Small Stuffby Richard Carlson© 1997Do little things in life drive you crazy? Author and consultant on stress and happiness, Richard Carlson, suggests ways to calm yourself in your hurried, stress-filled life. For instance, “Think of your problems as potential teachers.”; “Remember that when you die, your inbox will not be empty.”; “Try to live in the present moment.” With his gentle manner, Carlson shows ways to make your actions more peaceful and caring, thus helping make your life calmer and more stress-free.

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Tax-Advantaged Ways of Giving

Posted

Did you know that the Internal Revenue Code provides a way to support the ministry of Berwyn UMC that may lower the amount of tax you owe? It's true. By carefully structuring your gifts, you can reduce or eliminate substantial portions of your tax liability. Below are just a few ways. Gifts of appreciated assets such as stock, real estate, and collectibles: When donating an appreciated asset, the item’s current market value is deductible from your taxes. However, the gain on that asset is not taxed. For example, if you purchased stock for $1,000 that has risen to $2,000, it could be gifted to the church, and you receive a charitable deduction of $2,000. If you sold the stock and gave the church $2,000, you still receive the $2,000 deduction, but you will also have to pay a capital gains tax on the $1,000 profit. You avoid capital gains taxes if you give the asset to the church rather than selling it yourself. For those receiving income from retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401K, or 403B plans, donations from those accounts given directly to the church avoid paying taxes on the withdrawn amount. The amount given even counts toward your RMD— required minimum distribution—without increasing your taxable income. If your taxes are such that you are close to the threshold for itemized deductions, giving in one tax year may make sense while having the church allocate the donation to a different church year. For example, if your taxes are such that you anticipate being able to itemize this year but not next year, you can donate money in 2022 that you want to apply to the church’s budget. If you want more information about your donation options, please visit our church website, where you can learn about the various ways to give and initiate the process of making a stock gift. You may also speak to Steve Cherry, our Financial Secretary, or Pastor Kevin. They would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Stewardship For the Global Community

Posted By Steve Cherry

Paul Maina, an Oxford colleague of Janelle Larson, is in the states on break from his work as director of the Children & Youth Empowerment Center [CYEC] in Kenya. He spoke to the Every Topic Considered [ETC} Class on November 20th. You’ll recall that Berwyn UMC has partnered with him in support of this durable, successful project operating under extremely challenging conditions. Children and youth, many of whom were homeless and orphaned, are comprehensively supported giving them the best shot at whole and full life. Paul is articulate about the importance of helping young persons develop, in the Global Community in which we participate and are a part. We get to take part in God’s work while seeing the fruits of those labors bloom into success. [see emails: Giving Tuesday & Online Auction for Zawadi Fund International (ZFI), write to cyec.zfi@gmail.com or see website ] For Berwyn UMC to be a force in the global community your participation in the church community is essential. Over the next several weeks you’ll receive some special requests: One is to make a plan for giving to BUMC for 2023 and respond by US mail or email. This helps us prepare for the various ministries and missions to which we’re called.  You can return your commitment to the church office on or before worship on December 11th.  You can also complete the form online at https://berwynumc.org/pledgeThe other is to consider a ‘2nd mile,’ end-of-year gift as part of your 2022 tax year charitable planning. This will help us address a spending deficit for the year. You can give in person on Sunday Morning, mail your gift to the church, or give online.  Learn about all of thew says to support the mission and ministry of the church at https://berwynumc.org/givePaul Maina is one who inspires us to see ourselves as part of a world community, aware of those for whom Jesus cared beyond our local community. Thanks for your being a part of the Berwyn UMC witness and participating in the global community.

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Scout Troop 181 December 2022 Update

Posted By Debbie Bellew

This past month has been a busy one for Scouts BSA Troop 181, we camped at the Hawk Mountain Scout reservation on the Appalachian Trail, worked together on an Eagle Scout project (pictured) to rebuild steps at the Field of Dreams for the Berwyn Paoli Area Little League, and conducted a pre Thanksgiving food drive. We are looking forward to earning the Radio merit badge together next month. Interested boys age 11 or older are encouraged to join the troop for a fun bowling night at Devon Lanes on December 13 at 7:00pm, or join us for a sample meeting any first Tuesday of the month in Schieck Hall at 7:00pm. Please reach out with any questions to joinpaoli181@gmail.com or scoutmaster.1 81.paoli@gmail.com.

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Christmas Notes from Pastor Kevin

Posted By Pastor Kevin

Merry Christmas! Hearing those words can bring a smile to my face, especially from a loved one. Oh, but there is so much to do between now and Christmas, and each day of December seems to tick by at a lightning pace. In addition to our everyday business of working, keeping the house clean, getting children to their activities, and staying connected as a family, this time of year adds Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas decorating, and Christmas itself.Before you start calling me a Bah Humbug, I love Christmas. I love seeing my children's faces light up when the Christmas decorations turn on for the first time, just like they did when they were younger. I love that our children are old enough to help decorate the tree without worrying too much about broken ornaments. Where I struggle, and I say this as a pastor, is how to keep still long enough to focus on the time of advent and Christmas and to make sure my kids also keep the meaning of Christmas in their hearts.Let's be honest. The idea of adding anything new to an already busy schedule is terrifying, borderline sitting in the corner of my office rocking terrifying. However, suppose your season is just as busy, but you want to focus on the hopeful waiting of advent and the celebration of Christ's first coming in Christmas. In that case, I offer a few suggestions to transform what you are already doing into moments of faith formation.Tree Decorating: I don't know about your family's traditions, but our family decorates the tree together, at least after I wrestle with the lights for an hour or two. Rebecca hands the ornaments to each child, and they find places to hang them. Rebecca and I usually hang the last ornament – a ceramic door with our last name over it – and then we take our picture. Offering a blessing before you start can transform this fun, although sometimes frustrating, task into a moment of faith formation. Here is something you can use to bless your tree as you decorate it:God who created the birds in the air, the fish in the sea,      the stars in the sky, and the trees in the ground,      bless this tree as we decorate it and make it a joyful symbol in our home. May its branches remind us of the shade and shelter      you provide for us and for many creatures. May its trunk remind us of your strength. May its lights bring us peace. May we remember your gift to us this season, the gift of the baby Jesus. Amen.       Blessing Your Christmas Tree – Buildfaith.com Spending time with your Church Family: This year, on Sunday, December 18th, we will have our musical celebration of Lessons and Carols, followed by our church Christmas Dinner. I hope you will carve some time out of your busy season for this festive occasion. It is an excellent opportunity to invite friends and neighbors.Longest Night Service: Let's face it, the Christmas season can be challenging for many people. Whether they are grieving the loss of loved ones, are feeling lonely, or can't seem to get into the festive spirit they see in others this time of year. That is ok, and this year we are adding a service to our Christmas traditions called “The Longest Night Service.” This service, held on the First Day of Winter, December 21st, is a low-key contemplative service meant to give prayerful space to those who find the traditional Christmas celebrations challenging to manage.Christmas Eve: We sing our favorite carols and hear the Christmas story. Berwyn UMC will have our service at 7:00pm. This traditional service with candle lighting and communion is a perfect opportunity to sit and rest in the light and hope that Christ’s birth brings as we listen to and sing our favorite carols to the Christmas story.Christmas Day: We will have an informal celebration at our standard worship time of 10:00 am. There will be lessons, carols, and a brief message. Whether you come decked out in your favorite Christmas attire or show up in your favorite Christmas Jammies, you are welcome to this time of Joyful celebration.New Year's Day: We will gather at our standard worship time of 10:00 am for the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service. The heart of the service focused on the Covenant Prayer, requires persons to commit themselves to God. Wesley found the service rich and meaningful, as expressed in his Journal: "Many mourned before God, and many were comforted" (April 1756); "It was, as usual, a time of remarkable blessing" (October 1765). "It was an occasion for a variety of spiritual experiences ... I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing. Afterward, many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or a fresh manifestation of His graces, healing all their backslidings" (January 1st, 1775). In London, these services were usually held on New Year's Day. My goal this Christmas is not to add more activities and duties but to transform the things that we already do into meaningful ways of sharing the story of Jesus. You can find more details in this newsletter and on our church website at https://www.berwynumc.org/Christmas. What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?May your Christmas be Merry and Bright, Pastor Kevin 

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Transparency and Open Communication Are Key

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

This month we held the first of what I hope to be many Town Hall style meetings. At them, we shared a snapshot of the church’s finances, talked about the potential sale of some of our property, and how I approach church ministry. One of the meetings used ZOOM, and we have a recording to share. You can find it at https://berwynumc.org/townhalls. I heard two things from the meetings that I will make a priority to work on moving forward. The first piece of feedback I heard is that there is a lack of communication about what is going on at the church, the decisions made, and what it means for the broader ministry of the church, and a growing frustration among those who have volunteered to serve. The town halls are our first step toward greater transparency. My goal is to be as transparent as possible in all that we do and all decisions made so that you feel that you can trust what we are doing and our future. The second piece of feedback I am making a priority is that there are people who want to serve to serve but need to figure out how. They are either on teams that do not meet, teams that do not have leaders, or teams that do not meet regularly, or they are unable to make an ongoing team commitment but are available to be called on for various tasks that need completing. I take this feedback seriously because I have a core belief about the Church that God has gifted everyone so that God can work through them to further His kingdom-building work. To put it more succinctly, if you are still breathing, then God can still use you. However, if the way we are doing church is getting in the way of God unleashing the people to use their gifts, then we need to do church better. We discussed these two items at our last Leadership Team meeting, and I want to share the conversation results with you. Moving forward, we are making the following changes in how we work to address these concerns The leadership Team is asking Charge Conference to approve combining the work of SPRT, Finance, and Trustees into the work of the Leadership Team. This change brings us closer to the model of leadership suggested by the simplified leadership program partially implemented this year. Finance and Trustees were intentionally kept separate, but in a review of our work over the last year, we still have a significant overlap of people between these meetings that have caused a duplication of work and reporting. The goal is not to consolidate decision-making but to increase the efficiency of regular work, so there is time for creative work. We understand how important it is for the leadership team not to get disconnected from the congregation. However, I am concerned that there is no separate nominating team naming people for considering the leadership team and helping me identify and plan leadership development. I am looking for 4-6 people who not only know the people in the congregation but are good at identifying the skills, talents, gifts, and spiritual health of others. The Nominations team's primary task is to find leaders who are growing in their faith and who bring their gifts and talents to help shape the church's future direction. To address the second concern, I want to create three ministry teams whose primary purpose is to create, plan, evaluate, and guide ministries in nurture, outreach, and witness. I am looking for a small group of people who have a passion for one of these three areas who want to guide the ministry teams that exist in the work they do and provide a place for them to ask for help and to dream of new ways of growing our ministry in each of the three areas. Finally, I want to create a property management team. The purpose of this team is to evaluate the needs of the building and property, prioritize those needs, and manage a list of tasks and maintenance items that team leaders can submit so that people who are not on a team can find places to help as they have time. More recently, this work has fallen exclusively on the board of trustees and often on the chair of trustees, but historically, that has not been the role of the trustees.I do not believe the church can fix all of its problems through structural and policy changes. However, we can make incremental improvements in how we function so that we can enable creative ministry-transforming conversations to happen. When we equip and unleash everyone who has volunteered to serve in some way, we will see dramatic changes in our ministry's effectiveness.While I am still learning about everyone and their gifts, I do not yet have a list of people in mind who would be perfect in each of these areas. Therefore, in addition to reaching out to the members of existing teams, I am relying on you to either help me identify people or let me know if you want to serve in any of the areas above.Finally, please remember that our Leadership Team meetings, unless dealing with Staff issues, are open meetings, and anyone can attend. The usual schedule for those meetings is the 4th Thursday of the month. Any changes to that schedule are posted in the worship bulletin and on our website.

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Trunk or Treat Was a Hit Again This Year!

Posted By Kristine Adams

Once again, Berwyn UMC put on a fantastic family community event. We had a steady stream of families the whole two hours. Pastor Kevin set up a QR code for parents to fill out a form to win a door prize—how many pumpkin candies in the jar? We received about 80 responses—lots of adults and kiddos came to play with us.This cannot happen without the Trunks:David & Isabel AdamsAmy DoddsBrett & Cindy ShallcrossMark DeStefanoRebecca & Pastor Kevin RutledgeClaudia SharplessKrapf Transportation CompanyAliyah Bonsu & her Impact Project “Project Bee Blessed”I am once again thrilled with the turnout of the community and the unconditional support of this congregation. We are touching many lives with this event. We will continue to strive to be inclusive of all children regardless of age or ability. Save the date for next year: Saturday, October 22, 2023.

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Troop 181 November 2022 Update

Posted

Scouts BSA Troop 181 held its annual recruiting campout at BUMC on October 8-9. The weather was chilly but clear and Scouts and guests enjoyed archery, a barbecue, and tent camping on the grass. All had a great time and appreciated BUMC’s wonderful grounds and gracious church hosts. The Scouts were also glad to practice “A Scout is Helpful” earlier that week by assisting with setup for the church’s Fall Fest sale.At the weekly meetings this month the Scouts are checking over their camping supplies, practicing first aid, and preparing for a visit to Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation.If you have boys ages 11-17 who are interested in Scouts, please visit us in Schieck Hall the first Tuesday of each month at 7pm or email joinpaoli181@gmail.com.

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Nursery School Update for November 2022

Posted

The Nursery School enjoyed their Halloween Parades and now it is time to look forward to November and Thanksgiving! Our classrooms will soon be decorated with turkeys and pumpkin pies and descriptions of what the children are thankful for. Even the youngest children can relate to things and people they are grateful for. We encourage the children to share their gratitude and their family Thanksgiving traditions with their classmates. They will join together for a Thanksgiving Feast where they will share food that the parent’s provide. We at BUMNS, have a lot to be thankful for, we are especially thankful for the support the church continually gives us. We wish everyone a good Thanksgiving. 

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Book Recommendation - Jesus and His World

Posted By Marjorie Smink

Jesus and His Worldby Craig A. Evansc2012Craig Evans is an internationally distinguished authority on the historical Jesus. With this book he brings to light archeological discoveries about Jesus’ world to the layman in an easy-to-read manner. He enables the reader to understand and consider the latest theories about who Jesus was and for what he lived and died. What was the village of Nazareth really like in the time of Jesus? What do we know through archeology about the ruling priests who condemned Jesus to die? This book is a useful starting point for evaluating often ignored sources and their impact on our comprehension of the historical Jesus.

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A Time of Recovery, Challenge and Opportunity

Posted By John Paylor

The whole world was thrown into turmoil in 2018 with the outbreak of the Covid virus. Fear and paralysis gripped entire populations as people cowered before this unknown threat. Governments and institutions imposed lockdowns in efforts to protect their citizens from infection, and life began a slowdown as individuals were unwilling to venture out to shop, work, or attend any public event where contact with others might lead to exposure to the virus.Our church was not immune to these events. Our Sunday worship services were suspended and we ceased to meet in person for events or fellowship. But our congregation exhibited a spirit of resilience. We instituted an on-line worship experience and utilized Zoom capabilities or parking lot gatherings for various meetings, Bible study and other events. But these services generated additional expenses, and our regular contributions declined.Only in recent months have we begun to see a recovery from these times. We are worshipping and meeting together again, although our worship attendance is lower. Our financial giving and other income remain below pre-pandemic levels. We may long to return to the former times, but we know deep inside that this is not possible. We face a world that has changed; a challenge of new and different times. Life, and our church, will not be the same going forward.Honestly recognizing this reality presents new opportunities. As we look and move into a new and different future we can grasp these opportunities to create a better Berwyn United Methodist Church well suited to grapple with, overcome and build on new and different challenges.All this requires that we see and respond to visions of life that can become realities. To do this we must remain committed to support our church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness. Regular financial gifts are an important part of this commitment. Financial resources undergird and make possible our continued presence, witness and service.

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You are God's Masterpiece

Posted By Pastor Kevin Rutledge

“10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:10 Have you ever considered yourself a masterpiece? When you look in the mirror, have you ever told yourself that God made you for a purpose? Have you ever considered that when God made you, you would go through life circumstances that would develop skills and a mindset that God could use?These are bold statements, especially if you have experienced anything negative in your life. The last thing I want to do is suggest that God causes bad things to happen to us. As we pray for Florida and Cuba right now, the last thing that any Christian should do is say that the hurricane is God's retribution for _____________ (fill in the blank here with whatever sinful behavior that makes you angriest). However, Romans 8:28 says that "all things work together for good for those who love God." It is not that God only causes good things or that God is causing bad things to happen to build you up. Still, it does mean that through Christ, those things we would have rather not happened can be redeemed and transformed, and good can come from it. We see this clearly demonstrated through Jesus' death on the cross. One of the most excruciating means of putting someone to death, which I wish Jesus did not endure, was transformed into good, so the world could be brought to life. In this, I find hope, not because it means that my actions against another are not important since God will transform them for something good. But, when I look back at all the things that have happened to me over my life, things that I did and others have done, I can take heart and hope that they can be redeemed and used by God for his purposes. In some ways, I see those times as already redeemed because I have been able to speak words of kindness and hope to people going through their difficult times from a place not only of distant empathy but of personal experiences of survival. If you look at your own experiences, you too may find those places. Despite all the world tried to throw at you, God worked within them and you to bring about good. None of those experiences diminish the fact that you are God's masterpiece, knit together for your good and for the good of others. We act not because we earn God's love through our actions, but because of God's love, we can act. As we move forward in ministry together, we must find a way to recapture what it means to be God's masterpiece for the purpose of good works, just like Abram and his descendants being a blessing to bless others. The hope for the future of Berwyn United Methodist Church rests on God's calling upon us to love and serve our community and to share the good news of Jesus Christ. That calling then lands on every one of us to answer the call with all that we are and with all that God has gifted us to live into the future that God has planned for us. My prayer is that we will all answer that call. Pastor Kevin 

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Stewardship and You

Posted By Steve Cherry

Berwyn UM Church started using its new Audio-Visual System on Sunday, September 25th. While we will grow into using the system more fully, we have already seen improvements in sound quality. The feedback we heard was mostly positive, with some stating they were not so sure they would like it but were pleased with how it turned out. The improvement helps to bring the church into the new age of Christian engagement and experience and opens many new avenues for inclusive and interactive worship. The story of how this project was funded is a testament to God’s blessing. There are about seven sources from which funding made the project possible. Church donors involved stepped up significantly to manage the $36,000 price tag. We join together in thankfulness to everyone who made this possible and hope that you will join us on Sundays to experience, first-hand, the new look and sound of in-person worship at Berwyn Church.When we embark on fundraising for this type of project, we approach one type of giver. You may find yourself in one or more of the three types of givers who support the church's mission.First, there are those who support the church, usually through providing a yearly estimate of giving. Giving in this way helps the church budget, plan for staffing expenses, and plan ongoing ministries. Without people who submit and honor their yearly giving estimates, we are unable to adequately prepare a ministry action plan that is both daring and audacious but also financially sustainable. As we move closer to November, please consider if you will submit a yearly giving estimate or pledge and for what amount.Second, there are those who give to support specific ministries or projects they feel passionate about. These gifts are sometimes called second-mile gifts because they are above and beyond their yearly giving. These estimates help us to launch new ministries initiatives, projects, or capital expenses that arise throughout the year. This type of gift enabled the Audio-Visual upgrades without stressing this year’s budget.Third, there are those who support the church through legacy giving. We are grateful that people remember Berwyn United Methodist Church in their estate planning. This type of gift is either to the general endowment that restricts how much can be used each year or through other designated gifts. The primary purpose of this type of giving is to leave a legacy by supporting the church's work long after the giver has joined the church triumphant.One gift that may stand out in your memory was a gift to pay the mortgage principal from the building project. This gift has kept a significant expense from impacting ministries and the budget that funds them over the last few years. Unfortunately, this legacy gift ran out at the end of August, which transitions those expenses back to the yearly operating budget.The church's work, its yearly planning, and its ongoing future are only made possible because its members and participants support it through their gifts of time, talent, prayer, and treasure. Without any one of these things, we cannot move into the future that God has in store for us. We appreciate those who support the church through those means enabling the mission and ministry of the church to continue.This year, like years past, we operate at a financial deficit, trying to maintain the church's ministries with fewer and fewer resources. Unfortunately, this year’s deficit may reach as high as $70k. The deficit has been covered by reserve and special gifts, but that is not a sustainable way of running and growing a thriving church. We would ask you to think openly about your gifts, talents, and passions and invest yourself as fully as you can in our mission to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our community to make a lasting impact on the world for the glory of God.How would you like to be involved, answering that passion, in giving and/or in serving? What are your ideas!? What new things should we be doing? In all this, your stewardship can take shape. Please look for the announcement of three town hall-style meetings scheduled in the third week of October. This is where you will have a chance to ask questions about the current state of the church and where we will have an opportunity to share the plans for the future. There are two in-person meetings and one online for those who are unable to attend in person. 

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A Note From Your Lay Leader

Posted By Amy Dodds

Fall has long been my favorite season. Fall is a time of great change in nature the less structured days of summer have passed, and we look forward to a new season. I love the varied color of the fall leaves, blue skies, and the cooler autumn air. There is a sense of excitement for the change and perhaps the opportunity for new growth. Fall is also a time for new obligations: the beginning of school for the kids, a renewed commitment to church attendance and Sunday school, sports schedules, the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and so much more. As much as we love doing all of it, these new commitments can leave us feeling stressed out and tired and maybe even overwhelmed. Perhaps we can find inspiration from Paul in his message to Galatians as he reminds us we are challenged to do good and not feel weary: "And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." ~ Galatians 6:9 At times it may feel as if no one sees or appreciates the good work we are doing, but GOD sees the effort, and he does not want us to give up! We are reminded that the seeds we sow to- day will determine what we reap in the future. GOD is on our side … just as GOD creates the beauty of the fall leaves; He also wants to create beauty in our lives. GOD knows we are only human, and when we become discouraged, He wants to encourage us to continue in our work, and not grow weary in doing good. When we do, He promises we will reap the reward of a life well-lived. During this time of great change in nature, I offer to you a reminder to take the time to rest but forge forward in our work together, to not grow weary, and to revel in the beauty GOD has put in your life today. 

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Book Recommendation - The Language of Science and Faith

Posted By Marjorie Smink

The Language of Science and Faith by Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collinsc2011As Christians, do we have to choose between affirming that everything exists because of God or accepting the explanation of nature by science which does not include God in the picture? Giberson and Collins claim that we do not have to choose one or the other, for science does not discount the Bible, and faith does not reject science. Their dialogue explains how God cares for and interacts with his creation, while science offers a reliable way to understand the world God made. The authors clear up the erroneous conclusions of Christians and atheists about science and evolution by sharing the results of research in physics, geology, astronomy, and genetics. This book will become a classic for those who read it with an open mind and are willing to wrestle with questions about the relationship of modern science with the Christian faith.

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Member Highlight - Debbie Nemetz

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Consummate banker, Debbie served as a lead counter for the Berwyn UMC Counters Team for many years. She ran the numbers for the last time late in September. So it is time to thank her for her leadership and diligent work. The Team consists of about five persons who, every other week, meet to process gifts received from Sunday offerings and other donations, preparing all for the corresponding bank deposit. Because Debbie worked for many years for PNC Bank, her expertise in banking operations allowed her to both lead and teach. The Counters Team currently also consists of Judy Edinger, Betsy Newman, Claudia Sharpless, and Carol Williams, all working under the watchful eye of Veronica Mosley, serving as Finance Secretary.

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Member Highlight - John Paylor Esq

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Since 2018, John has served as Treasurer for Berwyn UM Church. As he said, ‘I always had an interest in finance,’ so he asked to serve on the Finance Committee when there was a need for support of the financial work of the congregation. At that time, we began to use a company called Church Shield to manage bookkeeping and accounts payable. John was able and willing to become the main contact with the bookkeeping service to support Barbara Stockler, who has also been a skilled member of the Finance Team and was our main bank contact. (The church banks with Customers Bank, Phoenixville.) The rest is ‘treasurer history.’ One of John’s accomplishments was establishing a new, comprehensive, and unified chart of accounts, so that we have as clear as possible a picture of operating, restricted and pass-through accounts. This is second only to his massive effort to successfully manage our application for the CARES ACT loan, which was ultimately forgiven. This allowed the Church and Nursery School to realize about $90,000 in funding that helped us navigate the tough days ofthe pandemic. John’s tireless work with the bank and required paperwork allowed the process to unfold for us smoothly.  John will be stepping down as Treasurer and from the Leadership Team shortly, and in preparation, new arrangements are being made. But in the meantime, deep thanks are due to John for his faithful, detailed, meticulous, and prayerful service on behalf of the finance ministry of the congregation. 

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Nursery School Update for October 2022

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The nursery school is full of happy smiles and children’s laughter once again. We had a few tears from our youngest friends, to begin with, but they soon dried up. It always amazes us how quickly children adapt to their new environments.   The hallways will soon be full of Halloween decorations, and the children are already discussing their Halloween costumes! We will be having our annual Halloween parade at the end of October. Thank you to the church for the invitation to the BUMC Trunk and Treat on October 22nd. We are excited that our youngest friends have an artificial surface to play on now, it can be used in all weathers now. Please take a look at all the happy faces in the ‘First day at BUMNS’ photos on the notice board inside the entrance to the nursery school. 

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Troop 181 October 2022 Update

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Scouts BSA Troop 181 spent an enjoyable summer filled with camping, advancement activities, and plans for service over the course of the school year. Since reconvening in August, the Troop has already held a welcoming event at BUMC for prospective future Scouts (check out our display at the Easttown Library lobby!) and a weekend campout kayaking and canoeing in New Jersey. Meetings are weekly at BUMC with camping trips monthly, including a get-to-know-us event in the church backyard October 8-9. Boys older than 11 are encouraged to join us for a sample meeting any first Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Please reach out with any questions to joinpaoli181@gmail.com or scoutmaster.181.paoli@gmail.com. We appreciate BUMC’s partnership in hosting Troop 181 for many years. Pictured: Scouts and their families gathered at Schieck Hall on September 20 for a Court of Honor to celebrate the boys’ many accomplishments. Pictured: Display at Easttown Library

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