I cannot believe that the first day of Autumn (Fall) has arrived. Fall – to lose the old, to have its proper place. This is just part of the many definitions of what the dictionary says “fall” is. What is crazy is that the dictionary is talking about fall like ‘I fell down’, not fall like ‘the season’ and yet how appropriate the definition is.
I love Fall!! The color change, the weather change, the smell change…..its all about change. But to change means that something must go.
As I sit here looking out the window with massive trees all around my back yard, I visualize what will be happening in less than a month. Leaves falling. What was once trees deep in rich green, then trees with vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, will soon become trees that will be empty. Nothing left but the branches. I guess our human side finds that sad, and we wish the color stayed. We think the only thing that makes the trees beautiful is the colorful leaves …why does it have to be so bare? But, that’s a sign of what is to come.
But for every beginning there is an end and for every ending there is a new beginning. What I find amazing is that those trees still stand. Those branches still reach out and upward. Not like my plants in the front of my house that have to be cut back and will re-grow from their roots next Spring. Those trees still stand. There is beauty in the strength of those branches.
This is a picture of what Jesus does in our lives. We go through all kinds of seasons. Some are seasons of hard times, some loneliness, seasons of loss or other things such as financial hardships. And those seasons change us. We have seasons that are bright and beautiful and rich in life. Then we have seasons God allows things in our life to enter so we don’t remain the same. But through all those seasons, He is telling us to let go and let Me. Let go and let Me show you what I can do. Let go and let Me show you what I can teach you… There is strength in your branches with Me. We have to let go, and grow a new perspective.
Is 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do not perceive it? It will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert.”
Welcoming the change of Christ,
Be Guinn, Youth Director
Our Great Granddaughter, Jaylee, spent the night last Saturday night. While football is not her thing, it was explained that the Arkansas/Texas football game would be the only action for all our Saturday evening. Close to the end of the game, Jaylee told Carolyn that she was getting tired, so Carolyn took Jaylee to the bedroom and laid down with her. They turned the TV on in the bedroom to finish the game. As most who watched the game saw, at the conclusion of the game, the fans swarmed the field in celebration with the football players. What a glorious sight to behold for most of us in our State.
On the way to Church Sunday morning, I asked Jaylee if she saw the crowds of people jump over the rail and swarm the field after the game. I further went on to explain that the fans wanted to win this game so much that they wanted to be with the players to celebrate the victory when we won. But when they jumped the rail to get close, they also broke the law. I then told her that the Arkansas football program would have to pay a hefty price for the people swarming onto the field. Jaylee looked puzzled and then questioned “why didn’t the people have to pay?” I tried to explain that the people should but wouldn’t be held accountable. While the football program shouldn’t have to pay because the people messed up, they would be fined and must pay anyway. She then told me, “Well that’s not fair, the people should pay.”
I told her that this is the way it is with God. Even though people mess up, God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to pay if we come to Him. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but would have ever lasting life.
Even with this her thoughts were “The people should pay”. I cannot disagree with her totally but am grateful that is not the promise that God gave each of us when He gave us Jesus. Now the truly great question remains. With such a gift, why can’t we all get so excited about the victory of winning God’s big game, that each Sunday we jump the rails to get closer to Him?
Lay Servant JFUMC
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
These verses have long been my favorite verses in Scripture. In fact, Philippians is by far one of my favorite writings in our Scripture. Paul has been encouraging the Philippians to continue the race and not give up. The goal for Paul is “knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection and participating in His sufferings” (3:10). Although, as we hear, he has not quite obtained all this. He may understand the goal; he may see it on the horizon, but he doesn’t quite feel as if he knows Christ and the power of His resurrection. If anything, that is in fact a motivator rather than a demotivator.
I know at times in my life I may have a goal; and it seems so unattainable that I just give up on it. One time I wanted to learn to play the guitar. Well, I got into it; and realized there was so much to learn that I got overwhelmed and let the dream go. Yet, Paul knows he’s not there but keeps putting one foot in front of the other. Deep down Paul is captivated by Jesus and the life Jesus has to offer. Even if it seems so far away, the reward is worth it. He’s not going to let his past get in the way. He’s not going to let his failures overrule his heart. He sees ahead of him the power of Christ’s resurrection and won’t give up on it. It’s worth it.
I want that kind of tenacity in my faith. For many, these past couple years have been trying on our lives and our faith. It’s easy to throw our hands up and give up. Yet, imagine what it will be like to know the power of Christ’s resurrection in your life, in your family, and in our congregation. Such a vision is motivating to me. I hope wherever you find yourself, you hear Paul’s words as an encouragement not to give up. Keep pressing forward. It’s worth it.
PS...what’s your favorite Bible verse?
Rev. Nathan Kilbourne
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”—1st Kings 19:11
I often tell people that I run my mouth for a living. I’m only half kidding when I say it. I’m often asked to present, explain, answer questions, chit-chat, or otherwise talk. I’ve been told I’m well suited to this. I’ve also been told that I may be too well suited. My grandfather loved to quote John Wayne to me. He’d say, “Boy, you're short on ears and long on mouth.” This was his way of telling me to be quiet. It took me a long time to understand that, probably because I was talking when he said it.
Fast forward a few decades, and I discovered that verbosity might be genetic. I have a daughter and a granddaughter who can start a sentence first thing in the morning and finish their point on Tuesday. All that talking—all those words—may or may not be useful, but what they aren’t is “quiet”.
Another thing I learned after all these years is that my grandfather was quoting the Duke, but that John Wayne was quoting Zeno (by way of Diogenes—that’s a fourth level reference for you) who coined the old saw, “The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.”
Listening is important. One might say it is MORE important than talking. Listening is the skill that allows us to really understand others. It forces us out of ourselves and into someone else’s experience. Good listeners make other people feel important, understood, and accepted. If only listening were easy. You see, it’s not enough to not talk while some one else is talking, you actually have to focus and process what they are saying. What most of us do in a conversation is not listen, but merely pause talking so someone else can take a turn.
The Austrian pianist, Alfred Brendel, reminds us that, “The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent'.” In order to listen—to really listen—we have to become silent: with our mouth, sure, but also in our mind. We need to stop the noise in order to really understand someone.
This relationship advice works just as well when we apply it to God. We’ve been learning how to hear God, but if we’re going to find answers; if we’re going to find direction; if we’re going to understand His will, we must listen to what He is telling us. This week I urge you—in your prayer time and as you go about your day—stop the noise, seek mental and physical silence, and listen. God is speaking to you.