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“Unafraid” Series continues this Sunday!

The Final message is “Unafraid!”

“Up” was a fun little Disney movie a few years back and helped me shape Sunday’s final message in the “Unafraid” series. We were meant to soar, not be closed away in fear. We will mix our metaphors with the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 and another nautical reference as Jesus and the disciples are out on the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm. “Why are you afraid?” Jesus asked. And he still is asking. You can watch the video under the tab “Pastor Bill’s Message” or join us live in Facebook at around 10:10 Sunday Morning.

We have adjusted the worship schedule. We will have one worship service at 10:00 on Sunday Morning beginning August 9, 2020. The service incorporates the best of our traditional and contemporary worship experiences. Come a little early for some extra music that you will love! We are wearing masks and keeping a safe distance please.

F ace your fears with faith

E xamine your Assumptions in light of the facts

A ttack your anxieties with action

R elease your cares to G-d

Message: “Unafraid!”

We opened the Sanctuary worship with the film “Up” trailer. You can find this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBvk79DW-eg

“Up” was a funny animated Disney movie about the adventures of an elderly Carl Fredrickson and a boy scout named Russell. Russell showed up on Carl’s doorstep trying to earn his “assisting the elderly” merit badge. Ed Asner is the gruff voice of Carl and is perfect for the old widower who has been told to leave his house and go to a retirement home. But Carl has no intentions of calling it quits. He tied hundreds of helium filled balloons to his house and soars off to fulfill a promise made to his wife. A promise to go to Paradise Falls in South America.

Of course, the boy scout has stowed away and they share the adventure together. I liked the film because it gives voice to all of us who say, “just one more adventure”. It breaks the stereotype of the elderly just giving up on their dreams.  It shows how we might be afraid, but that fear does not consume us. Now that does not mean that we don’t have any fear. This is a clip of Russell and Carl beating a hasty retreat from some would animals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksonXnMiUXI

Sometimes we try to earn our “run away in terror badge”. But for the most part, we face our fears and we live an abundant life. This is our last Sunday of the “Unafraid” series and we have covered a lot of territory in our effort to show that we do not have to live in fear. The last part of Hamilton’s book has chapters titled “I don’t want to grow old”; “Anxiety, worry and physical illness; “I am not ready to die” and last, “living with fear”. Sounds like a bummer ending to the book, but it is anything but that. In my estimation, Part 5 of Adam Hamilton’s book, is a “must read” for folks of my generation.

Of course, growing old is a part of the circle of life. But for many, our older years can be our happiest years. We don’t have to prove anything anymore. Most of us don’t work 50 and 60 hours a week anymore. We are content with what we have. We don’t care about “keeping up with the Joneses”. Heck, we didn’t like them much anyway.

For me, I have more time for my hobbies. Reading, learning new things, making stuff in my shop. Most important, Janice and I have more time together and it is so important to build those memories while we can.

Hamilton writes that if you fear growing older, then everything you thought about growing older is likely wrong.

Again, we examine our assumptions. Look at the numbers. The vast majority of us will not get Alzheimer’s and 95% of us will not go to the nursing home. Yes, we all might get a little forgetful. Lord knows, and Janice knows, that I do, and all we can do is just have a good laugh.

And studies show that older folks with a church are happier. So, we are invited to re-imagine our older years. 

Joel 2: 28 Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 

G-d still lets us dream and you never know when he might send us on an adventure. Probably not with balloons, but you never know.

Anxiety about getting sick is prevalent in my generation. Just watch those advertisements for prescription medicine on the TV and pretty soon, you will swear you have whatever they are talking about. We can convince ourselves that we have all sorts of things wrong with us, but much of the time, we are just experiencing the aging process. Yes, it is a good idea to go to the doctor and not try to diagnose our illnesses. Web MD can take you some strange places. So, we trust our doctor and come to terms with the fact that we are not teenagers anymore.

And that virus. Things are getting better. The masks, the sanitizing, the cleaning all are helping. We still have to be careful. And just maybe we will have a less severe cold and flu season.

Thinking positive is good thing. That is what Hamilton says, but we knew that already. Check our breathing now and again. Slow down. Take a nap.

And when we do get sick, face our illness with faith. Live as best as we can.

Jesus asks, Matthew 6:27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 

And he says, 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

So, stop with all the worrying.

Many people fear dying. Few of us are ready to just pack it up and die, yet we all know that it will happen. Our bodies can get fragile.

So, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 

And when the time comes, we cast off that old clay jar. Our essential selves will live on in Christ. Even when our bodies are failing, we don’t lose heart because our inner nature has been renewed each day. And when we die, we will be changed. Death is swallowed up in victory.

So, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

See, G-d’s response to our fear of dying is dramatic. G-d’s response to our fear is the death and resurrection of Jesus.  And what we believe about death fundamentally changes how we live.

The primary concern of the Gospel is not about getting us into heaven; it is about our living now.

And we live courageously in the face of illness and death because Jesus said this. Said this to Martha as she grieved the death of her brother.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

And Jesus told the disciples, he told us, John 14: 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 

And so I ask, when did Jesus ever not tell us the truth? When did Jesus ever sugarcoat anything he told us? Jesus always told the truth so that when we read his words about eternity, we can depend on them. So, we are told not to fear getting old, illness, death and dying.

Does the Bible tell us to fear anything? Sort of. So many times in the Bible, we are told to fear the Lord. Fear G-d.

So, Proverbs 9: 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. 

And we wonder what is meant. A better translation for English means we should be in awe of   G-d. Respect and revere him. Indeed, fear what will happen to our souls if we don’t seek our salvation through his Son. Believe what Jesus said regarding the judgment of the nations in Matthew 25.

So many times, we like to just think of G-d as benevolent. A jolly old elf like Santa Claus. That Jesus is just our friend. Friends, that is shallow thinking. It is bad theology. G-d has expectations of us. And he is serious about our sin, our confession, our repentance and our turning to him. So serious, he sent Jesus to us for our redemption. Our salvation.

So, we just need to remind ourselves at times that G-d is G-d and we are not. Jesus saves, and we cannot.  And that allows us to live without fear because ultimately it means that G-d is in control. In control of compassion, love, comfort, strength, grace and mercy and ultimately, our lives.

And so, our Gospel for today, we think about those disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee. We are back in our boat. The Sea of Galilee is in the cleft of the Jordan River Valley. It is 680’ below sea level and that valley acts as a wind tunnel coming down from the mountains. It can get stormy in a hurry and even experienced sailors like the disciples can get scared.

And so we read:

Matthew 8:23-27. 23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” 

They asked the wrong question. “What sort of man is this?” The right question is, “What sort of G-d is this?” And the answer is quite clear. He is the G-d who comes to us in the storms of life. He calms the rough seas. He rebukes the evil that threatens to overcome us. So that when we fear G-d, we fear little else. He is in the boat with us. We are never alone.

And….those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

In this book study, we have talked about many forms of fear. Some are right in our faces. Some are insidious. Some real; some imagined. Some persist from year to year; others are the product of our times.

But what Adam Hamilton and Viktor Frankl and Rick Warren all tell us. What Carl and Russell tell us in the movie “Up”. What the Holy Spirit and our Lord Jesus tells us in our hearts.

Is this.

We live our lives with an expectation of adventure. We experience fear, but we don’t have to be oppressed, defeated or controlled by it. We face fear with Lord G-d and his angel armies right beside us. We confront fear with the Good News of the Gospel on our tongues. We defeat fear because G-d has given us life and has defeated death. And in his grace, G-d has given us joy.

Unbreakable, indestructible, unyielding and indescribable joy to live our lives.

A good life. Today. 

Amen

Work We Did

Legacy Ranch suppliesThis is a part of the mound of supplies we took to Legacy Ranch this week.

More we did.  We gathered a love offering last Sunday to help with “stuff the bus” The Luling Lions have again partnered with the schools but instead of the annual “stuff the bus”, they are collected donations to help offset the cost of the computers the kids need to learn from home. Our church collected a little over $250.00 which I presented to the Lions last week and they will get over to the school.

Friends, as I have said, no pandemic is going to stop us from doing the Lord’s work!


Friends, please see the Book and Bible Study tab for a new proposal for a ZOOM book study. The 5 week Adam Hamilton book, “Unafraid”. We will start on August 26.

A PROMISE FROM AN OLD FRIEND

        The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

The “home” posts below are old ones. But they reflect the life of the church before the Corona virus and inspire our return to our mission of worship and service.

candlemas

This Sunday, February 2, we will celebrate a Candlemas, United Methodist style, as we continue our Spiritual Gifts sermon series. The Light has come into the world! And we offer our gifts to make the Light better known. Come and worship with us!

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and Bake Sale. December 7, 2019 from 10:00 to 2:00. Friends, this will be here before we know it. This sale helps finance our outreach and mission ministries. And speaking of outreach and mission, our winter clothing ministry was a huge success as we served almost 200 people, just in time for that frigid norther that blew in.

Las-Posadas-Email

Community Las Posadas at 2:00 on December 8, starting at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation and finishing at First United Methodist. Music, fun, food and a pinata for the kids. Come walk with the Holy Family as they search for a place to stay.

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Winter Clothing Ministry

The next event for the Outreach/Missions Committee will be the Winter Clothing Ministry which will be held on Saturday, November 9 from 9 to noon in the Fellowship Hall. Breakfast tacos will be served.  Please help us collect warm jackets, coats, hats, mittens, and clothing for children and adult, and blankets, space heaters and any items to help keep local families warm this winter. Items may be gently-used and clean. We have been able to keep over 60 children and their families warm each year due to the generous donations from you. You may bring your donations to the FUMC Fellowship Hall on Tuesday through Thursday the week of November 3rd between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. If you have items that you would like us to pick up, we would be happy to do

so. Just call the church office at 830-875-2711. Thank you, Candice. FUMC, Luling Outreach Committee

all-saints-sunday

November 3 at 10:00 (Combined Worship Service)

Friends, we will come together as one body to celebrate the Saints of our church. It is at 10:00 and we will consider the witness of the Saints, calling us to climb down from our trees and come to our Lord. Our focus scriptures are 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 11-12 and Luke 19:1-10.

“A Conversation on the Music of Fanny Crosby”

October 27, 2019.

Folks, we have a real treat for our Sunday worship services on October 27. Tom Townley will bring us a musical conversation on the hymns of Fanny Crosby. Our October worship services have celebrated the music of the church and we will conclude the series with one of our most beloved hymn writers, Fanny Crosby. “Blessed Assurance”, “I Am Thine O Lord”, “Praise Him! Praise Him!”, “Close to Thee” are just a few of the songs we will hear and sing. Come and bring some friends!

Tom Townley

Quilt Show!

We hosted a quilt show on September 28 and our sanctuary was filled with beautiful quilts. Some were over 100 years old. And the Bake Sale was a tremendous success, generating money for the UMW Mission Fund.

Quilt Show

Huge Health Fair and Flu Shot Clinic will be on September 17 at the Church Fellowship Hall from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m.

united-methodist

New Book Study on “Living as United Methodists”. What does it mean to be a United Methodist? How are we alike and how are we different from other denominations? These will be topic of a six week study beginning Sunday September 15 at 10:00 (Sunday School hour)

backpacks

We will Bless the Backpacks (and our students and teachers) in both services on August 25th. So bring your backpacks, rollers, carry-alls, totes, briefcases, lunch pails, satchels and whatever else you take to school (or work) and we will offer God’s rich blessings.

Wolf

August 25’s sermon is “Back to School”, but we will consider what we might learn from the Native Americans. The book “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn will provide a perspective on learning and tradition from the Native Americans. This is the same author who wrote “The Wolf at Twilight” we used last year to focus on the wisdom of the Native Americans.

stuff-the-bus

We will offer hygiene kits for the junior high students to keep in their backpack or locker at the  Stuff the Bus fair on August 23. If you would like to help with this ministry, just contact the church office.  Stuff the bus is sponsored by the Luling Lions Club as one of their many service projects. What a wonderful group of dedicated people!

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Being a Christian is about being Spirit-led.  Belief is not enough.  We need conscious contact with God.  The Book of Acts is a record of the disciples doing just this: learning how to be Spirit-led, Jesus leading them from the inside out.  Now it’s our turn.

We will study and dialogue about the Book of Acts of the Apostles at Mom’s Front Porch on Wednesdays into December beginning on September 11th from 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

As a text, we will use, Acts: 24 Studies of Individuals and Groups by N.T. Wright which can be purchased through various bookstores or online vendors.

The Bible Study will be led by the Rev. Mark Bigley of Church of the Annunciation, Episcopal and Pastor Bill Knobles of First United Methodist Church.

Come join us and bring a friend as we learn more of what it means to be Spirit led.

Mother’s Day Worship on May 12, 2019. We will worship at 9:00 and 11:00 and honor those special women in our lives. Moms come to us in many ways. Biological moms, grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts, the neighbor lady who looks after us. All can be mothers to us. So, come to church and let’s have a great time of praise.

Mothers Day

Prayer Wall

We have added a prayer wall to our church for Lent. As with the Western Wall in Jerusalem, this is a place to prayer and leave prayers in the cracks and niches in the wall. Anyone is welcome to do so. The prayers will remain personal. The Pastor will pray them and come Easter, we have a plan for them.

 

 

 

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               Ash-Wednesday

We begin our Lenten Journey with the imposition of ashes from 7:30 in the morning until 9:30, Wednesday the 6th. The sanctuary will be open. Just come on in and we will be there. Our Ash Wednesday worship is at 7:00 in the evening. The Homily is “Desperate Prayers”. Our text is Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 and Luke 18:9-14.

Our Candlemas 2019!

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Bearing the Light into the Church

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Gathering in the Narthex

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sign

 

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LasPosadas was such fun as the Holy Family went in search for an inn. We are so thankful to our friends at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation who helped host the event. And next year will be even bigger and better!

Trunk or Treat 2018 was a great success. Here is Mamie and she is ready! We wisely moved the evening inside as we knew a storm was going to blow in. So, we stayed dry and so did the kids (mostly). Thanks to all of the workers who prepared such a nice evening for the kids!

Mamie 2018

And speaking of the workers, here are the men. Hard at work. Ok, they did set everything up and deserved some of that candy.

2018 men at work

This photo of our altar, as prepared for the Bishop’s visit, might just be my favorite. See the stained glass reflected on the table? So beautiful. And the folks who prepared the altar and made it shine. They are beautiful too.

Altar for Bishop's Visit

We were so very blessed to host the Pastors and Professionals conference at our church with Bishop Robert Schnase and Superintendent Marcus Freeman. The singing was robust, the preaching was heartfelt, the message was informative and the food was “over the top” good. Thanks to so many of our humble servants who made this event such a blessing!

Bishop 2

 

Sunday the 14th is “Children’s Sabbath”. The Message is “God Sightings”. Where have you seen God lately?

God loves me

September was our “Jewish Heritage” Preaching series. We had a Sukkot in the NarthexIMG_3477

 

 

Health Fair at “Stuff the Bus”health kits

 Our Wesley Nurse helping kids with socks, socks and more socks and some shoes too

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wood

Children’s Time on August 19. Sometimes we are like this rough old board. A few cracks. Some places that are rotting. A few holes. But God does not just toss anything away.  He makes beautiful things! Even from an old piece of wood. Even from us! Especially from us.

crosses

safe gatherings“Safe Gatherings” is the Conference’s new training and background checking for those who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults. So, those who teach Sunday school, VBS, visit shut-ins, work with children/youth need to have this training. It comes in three parts. The first step is to register at safegatherings.com. Registering will initiate the background checks and references requirement. There is a fee which of the conference will pay part and the church will reimburse you for any excess. The second step is a relatively painless computer training program we do individually at our own pace. The safe gatherings webpage will lead you into this training. The third step is an interactive session you can either do in person or at a webinar. Go to   https://riotexas.org/safe for times and places. We might just schedule a training at one of our close churches and go as a group.  “Safe Gatherings” will be required beginning right after Annual Conference (July 1), but it sure ma