He's a walking contradiction
Partly truth and partly fiction
Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home
There's a lot of wrong directions on that lonely way back home—Kris Kristofferson,
The Pilgrim, Chapter 33
We’re curious creatures—driven to and by the passions that can overwhelm our senses of reason and good judgement. Once lit, the fuses of our passion seemingly have to burn all the way to the blasting cap, and from there the chemical contents being held under pressure explode, spectacularly—often with devastating effects.
Even more confounding, it seems the opposing passions balance us out. We temper anger with contentment, love with disdain, greed with charity, and peacefulness with violence. We are chemical contents held under pressure in an imperfect quasi-equilibrium—until we aren’t (again with the spectacular explosions).
Why do we live like this? How do we make it through a day when we are a knotted ball of emotional yarn (often soaked in gasoline and set afire)? We rage at those we love most? We volunteer to help others and neglect the simplest of necessities for ourselves? We aspire to WWJD but secretly dream of WWCED (What Would Clint Eastwood Do?).
It's not really all that hard to understand—beyond the pitifulness of Falstaff’s mere mortal man assessment—our warring passions are the inevitable result of day-to-day living in the world while being named by Christ as, “not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)
We study scripture, we spend time in prayer because we know that God is our refuge and our strength (Psalms 46:1), a mighty fortress according to Martin Luther. We know that Christ’s teachings of peace and love, of turning cheeks, giving coats, and walking extra miles are how we should live. How we actually live, though, is much closer to what the Apostle Paul described when he declared, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
This week, Pastor Nathan is going to throw us right in the discomforting nexus of opposing passions: a God who is the embodiment of Love acting in rageful vengeance. I can’t wait to hear what he has to teach us, because dear reader, this is a case where I can identify the component parts but cannot make the puzzle fit together into a picture that makes sense to me. I trust in the Lord—I bend my knee and my tongue confesses that Jesus is my Lord—and I beg forgiveness for my doubts—the ultimate, eternal contradiction of passion. I pray I don’t explode.
Change can be hard but most of the time change is for the better. At Jacksonville First United Methodist Church we have changes coming up. These changes are because of growth. Growth is always a good thing.
We have young adults that have graduated High School and need a LIFE Group. We have families with young children either returning to Church or finding us for the first time. We will have three new LIFE Groups beginning the first of September. Two of these will be on Sunday mornings and one will meet off campus. Alison Huskey will be leading a LIFE Group for families with children. Erica Tilley and Steve Bouwknegt will be leading a group for Young Adults. Both of these classes will be meeting in the Connection Center. Lezlie Lovercheck is also leading a group of adults who would prefer to meet during the week. Sunday mornings are full for our Praise Band, and those who work the sound and video. This will give them an opportunity to join a LIFE Group. If you are interested in joining one of these groups, contact the Church office for more information.
Our Children’s Department is having growth as well. Our Modern Service has more young families coming which means children! We will be offering a Kid’s Church during part of the Modern Service. The kids will be dismissed during offering and go upstairs to our new Kid’s Chapel. They will learn about prayer, worship, and have a lesson or activity pertaining to a Bible Story. We are very excited for this opportunity to teach our children in a new way. If you would like to help with this, please contact Stephanie Dunn.
We are also working closely with the JFUMC Childcare Center to invite families to our events. The Childcare Center is growing and thriving. We have Chapel with them once a week during the school year. They are so eager to learn and have fun in Chapel.
I am excited about the new life being breathed in JFUMC, and I hope you can feel it and are excited also.
Christian Education Coordinator
Unpaid Political Announcement
It can be difficult knowing how to navigate both being a disciple of Jesus and having strong political views that puts us at odds with those views of other Christians. How do we have these differences without crowding out your main allegiance to Jesus?
Right now, our nation needs Biblical citizens who understand we have dual citizenship – in the Kingdom of God, and citizens of this great nation! Our country’s founders relied on their Christian beliefs and Biblical worldview to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Government is God’s gift to us.
There are those with ideologies that they believe are absolute and sacred, and these ideologies are often in direct conflict with the person they sit next to in church. Sometimes both groups present their beliefs with a fervor you would think would be reserved for religious matters.
I think this zeal is misplaced and may distract us from the real mission of the church, making disciples of Jesus Christ. Our political stance is inevitable, but they do not have to become our religions. We must put emphasis on Jesus Christ, His teachings, His gospel, His Kingdom and His disciple making mission.
This two-party system cannot work if it is driven by anger and hatred. It just doesn’t. We as Christians believe things, we believe them strongly. We cannot get caught up in the hate. We do not love our neighbor by characterizing him with hateful terms. Is it much easier to do this than pray for them? Do we pray for our leaders, our senators, our congressmen, our mayor, our president? Do we ever pray for these people? Have we given up on the belief that God can turn the hearts of leaders?
Don’t let the darkness of this moment cause us to associate ourselves too closely with things that might compromise our Christian message, your Christian beliefs. Carry gospel hope, and believe in the presence and the power of the Lord Almighty!
Jo Ann Silvi
and Finance Manager
“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!