“6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to preach at a camp meeting at Salem United Methodist Church. The camp meeting has been going on for over 150 years! One of my colleagues and friends is the Pastor of the church. He has been working on me for the past couple years to come, and be one of the guest preachers. I finally agreed to do it when he called me this year. And let me say, it was such a refreshing experience.
It was such a laid back yet inviting atmosphere as we met under the old arbor that has been on the property for years. Congregants and participants shared with me how when they came to the camp meeting as a child, the concrete floors didn’t exist. Rather, sawdust was brought in to cover the mud for the event. Originally it would last for ten days too!
The evening was full of singing as participants called out favorite hymns as well as kids playing on the grounds. No one stressed about the typical stressors on a Sunday. Rather, everyone gathered for a common purpose - to love God and be renewed by God’s Spirit. And was it ever renewing.
I found myself, after the fact, realizing how much I needed that moment of renewal. Life can get so hectic or focused that I fail to take time to allow God to speak words of life and hope to me. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Peter Scazzero, I get too busy doing for God rather than being with God. And this past Tuesday was an opportunity just to be with God. When we are with God, we get back to why we’ve been created. We’ve been created to enjoy communion or fellowship with the Lord. Tuesday was a reminder of that.
My prayer for each of us is we find time in our weekly routines to simply be with God. It is so refreshing and reviving!
If you are not aware, in April 2021 our Youth and ten adult volunteers participated in a program provided by the Perkins School of Youth Ministry entitled “Reboot.” It was a program directed to getting Youth connected into the church not only presently, but to keep them connected through adulthood. While doing the Reboot sessions, it helped us as a group to understand what our Youth want in their ministry programs, what they need in the program, and most importantly how they had a need and desire to be included and connected in our church.
It started out with them expressing they want more youth participating in their Youth Program and lots of fellowship projects, but it grew from there with them sharing what they truly wanted and needed. They wanted to be participants in making decisions about our church. They wanted to be communicated to about church happenings. They wanted and needed to play an active role in worship services. They wanted and needed to be more involved in the ownership of their Youth Ministry Program.
These wishes and needs do not happen overnight. It is a work in progress one step at a time. We have seen a couple of different Youth filling the roles of working in the Sound Booths on Sunday mornings. We see a couple of them participating in the first service Choir and sometimes in the second service Praise Band. We have a youth that has actively been putting together lessons for Youth Sunday School and the Youth Sunday Evening Program. There are plans being discussed to incorporate them more into serving in our two worship services with Scripture reading, greeting and taking up the offering, etc.
Another main point in Reboot that was pointed out was if a Youth is only connected in the Youth Program and not any other aspect of the church before they graduate, the majority of them will leave the church. Not only our church, but Christ’s church.
So that brings me to share with you the upcoming JFUMC Prayer 360 Project. I’m looking for adults to be Prayer Partners and giving them the opportunity to connect in other ways each month of the school year with the Youth of our church. Because of participation in the PSYM Reboot Program, our Youth Program received a grant to carry-out the Prayer 360 Project. I’m going to use the funds from this grant to purchase: cards, stamps, treats, and other things needed to help the adults reach out and connect with the Youth they are given to connect with. The Project will begin on August 21, 2022 and continue through May 7, 2023.
I need willing participants to sign up July 18-August 14 so I can have time to assign adults to each Youth. I am hoping that each Youth in our church will have at least four to five different adults each to connect with them. I would love for each and every adult of our church to participate if only in signing up to pray daily for one particular Youth, but the Project needs adult partners to go that extra mile each month to reach out to their assigned Youth for this project to even be more successful.
I will be placing sign-up sheets in each LIFE Group classroom, in the Narthex in the main building for first service attendees and in the Family Life Center for second service attendees. If you have any additional questions I can answer about the Prayer 360 project, please feel free to contact me by email or phone.
Thank you in advance for your prayers and participation,
Be Guinn, Youth Director
In my early years I was influenced by many things in my life, one being poetry. In school we were taught the many facts of poetry such as its aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language. We were also taught that poetry should evoke meaning, paint a picture in your mind and have a degree of structure. My attempts often started with “Roses are red” and went downhill from there.
I will be the first to tell you my endeavor in poetry did not have the same effect as that of Geoffrey Chaucer. Known as the father of English poetry and author of The Canterbury Tales Chaucer, writes “now I beg all those that listen to this little treatise, or read it, that if there be anything in it that pleases them, they thank our Lord Jesus for it, from whom all proceeds all understanding and goodness.”
Just as Chaucer tells us to be thankful, the book of Psalms shows us that being thankful and prayer can take a wide variety of forms. It give us the means to come to prayer in a fresh state of mind and enable us to feel things that we may never have felt before. The Psalms speak to us. We cannot read very far in the Psalms without drawing the conclusion that the psalmist seems to have been reading our mind. How is it that after centuries have passed, we find a man who lived in a different time and culture expressing our innermost feelings, fears, and hopes? The answer, of course, is that we are reading the Scriptures, divinely inspired, infallible and inerrant, to be a word from God to us.
You see, The Psalms teach us that God has sovereign rule as the great King over all things. The Psalms declare our God is a great and powerful God. The Psalms are fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus. The Psalms praise God for being a just God.
I am often moved by one of my favorite scriptures, the 23rd Psalm. When I read it to myself, I can almost stop after the first nine words, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Those words say it all! If our Lord is our Shepherd, we will never be lonely, sad, or in need for anything. Throughout the book of Psalm there are other passages that are just as commanding, and they inspire us and cause us to be more engaged in our daily spiritual lives.
So, this week as you prepare yourselves for Sunday services, read the scriptures and be thankful to the Lord for “they are from he who proceeds all understanding and goodness”. May the poetry of the Psalms influence and affect your week.
Two facts for you today:
1. Charles Wesley wrote over 6,500 hymns yet never heard one sung in a service in his own church.
2. Elvis Presley was nominated for 14 Grammy awards but only won three—all for his gospel work, and two of them for different versions of “How Great Thou Art”.
It’s not just the Summer of 2022 that connects these seemingly random tidbits; it’s a fundamental truth about the nature of spiritual music. Summer 2022 helps though, as Pastor Nathan is taking us through a series of sermons on hymns and Elvis is once again filling theaters. Consider the nature of both of these “rebels”.
Charles Wesley helped to propel the Methodist movement through song. An ordained Anglican minister like his brother John, Charles was moved to an evangelism that was not well received inside the Church of England. Scandalously, the Wesley brothers joined other evangelical leaders and took the Gospel to the people, engaging in open air preaching to the masses. Both brothers were preachers and songwriters, but Charles was a composer of almost unimaginable prolificity. Those 6,500 hymns are the equivalent of two fully composed hymns a week—every week—for fifty years. I think if you gave me fifty years, I might come up with one decent verse.
Wesley understood that song and hymnody resonate deep in the soul. It can do as much to impart Gospel truths as any sermon. And honestly, when have you ever caught someone absentmindedly repeating a sermon? I don’t even need to play one note and you can hear “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” or “Love Divine All Loves Excelling” or “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”. Your singing some part of them right now, aren’t you? That’s the power of song.
Like his brother, Charles never intended to split from the Church of England. In fact, he publicly criticized John for the latter’s ordination of ministers to the Americas. It’s the very fact that he considered himself to be a devout Anglican that leads to our “Believe it or Not” fact of the day. One of the greatest hymn writers of any age lived and died without ever seeing his work accepted by his church. Charles died in 1788. The Church of England did not officially sanction the singing of hymns as part of the worship service until 1820.
Fast forward 160-odd years later and almost 4,500 miles west, and we arrive in Memphis in the 1950s. Completely different type of rebels were upsetting the social order. Sam Phillips’ Sun Records stable was putting a serious backbeat to the roots, gospel, and rhythm and blues music. The result was Rock and Roll and the undisputed leader of the new sound was Elvis Presley. He had the voice; he had the moves; he had the look; and he had that other thing, a magnetism that made him impossible to ignore.
For all the trouble that Elvis stirred up—I didn’t know whether to go with the “If you’re looking for trouble” or the “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” reference here—hymns were deeply embedded in his sound and his love of music. The last song Elvis performed on his Ed Sullivan run was “Peace in the Valley”. The fifth album he released was “His Hand in Mine,” an all gospel album.
For all the groundbreaking, earth shaking, on your feet in the aisles dancing that Elvis created, he would only ever win three awards at the Grammys for his gospel work. Some of this is due to timing (the first Grammy awards were given out two years after Elvis mania swept the globe); some is due to the eccentricities of the voting body (you can look it up, Bob Newhart’s standup album beat the Beatles one year); but if you’ve heard the live version of “How Great Thou Art” from 1974 you understand that even the Grammy voters couldn’t look away from a spirit-channeled tour de force.
Elvis has sold over one billion records—one BILLION. Charles Wesley wrote 6,500 hymns. It took a while for the music of both to be fully accepted inside the houses of worship, but both point to the power of song to open the doors of the soul.
Friends, there are so many items happening in our congregation this summer. We have VBS starting next Sunday! Don’t forget to register. We will have one service at 11:00am, followed by a Fish Fry, happening on Sunday, July 31st. I want to also let you know of my new sermon series starting on July 31st. This summer we will be doing a sermon series entitled, “Summer at the movies.” Throughout the series, we will be taking popular movies from the past couple years and using them as a launching point of our sermons. As part of this family-friendly series, we will be showing each of the movies the week prior to the Sunday it will be used as the sermon starter.
There will be a couple of opportunities to gather to watch it. Each Wednesday evening we will host a free showing in the Connection Center at 6:30pm. And throughout the week, families within our congregation have volunteered their homes to be a second site in case people cannot make the Wednesday showing. There will be more information to come and how to sign up at these houses if you need to watch a movie other than Wednesday evening.
To give you a little teaser, these are the movies we will be studying and watching over the course of the series.
July 31st - Luca (Main showing - July 27th in Connection Center)*
August 7th - Soul (Main showing - Aug. 3 in Connection Center)*
August 14th - The Bad Guys (Main Showing Aug. 10th in Connection Center)*
August 21st - Encanto (Main Showing Aug. 17th in Connection Center)*
*Optional other showings will be announced at later date
Be sure to spread the word to come and have a wonderful time together and join in growing our faith together.
Join the fun!