Fwd: 7-23-24 FUMC Updates … Passing the Torch

When the word torch comes to mind, what do YOU think of?

With the summer Olympic games starting this Friday night, July 26th, most of us would normally think about the beautiful tradition of passing the Olympic torch from Greece, where the Olympics originally began in 1896, to wherever the games are held in that quadrennial. This year, the first torch for the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay was lit by the sun’s rays on April 16th during a ceremony in the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece, where the ancient Olympics were once held. The Olympic flame then went to Athens, on a boat across the Mediterranean Sea to Marseille, and from there, it will be carried by about 10,000 different people who were chosen to carry the flame across France to the opening ceremonies. NBC will cover the opening ceremonies at 1 PM this Friday.

This week, however, the expression “passing the torch” has another meaning with the news of President Biden ending his reelection campaign to focus on running the government through the end of his term. I am fully aware that 50% of our country dislikes President Biden and 50% of our country dislikes former President Trump, but these two men have sacrificed a great deal to serve their country, and I have tremendous empathy for what they have been through. I also have been very tuned into the expression “passing the torch” that we have been hearing after 39-year-old J.D. Vance was chosen as Trump’s Vice President, and 59-year-old Kamala Harris has just been endorsed by Biden to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Passing the torch … we all know what it means, but TheIdioms.com says: “Relinquish responsibilities, a tradition, practice, or knowledge to another. For example, ‘When the company’s founder became too ill to continue, he passed the torch to his nephew.’  This metaphoric expression alludes to the ancient Greek torch race, in which a lighted torch was passed from one runner to the next. A translation from both Greek and Latin, the English version dates from the late 1800s.”

The Olympic committee reports: “The Olympic flame symbolizes the light of spirit, knowledge, and life. The passing of the flame from one person to another in stages (the Torch Relay), symbolizes the handing down of this figurative fire from generation to generation.”  From generation to generation in our country, Presidents have also passed the torch to new generations, and all of this reminds me of the generations and generations of CHRISTIANS who have passed the torch to new believers for more than 2024 years!

I think the Apostle Paul had this idea in mind when he encouraged his young protégé Timothy: “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).  I love the imagery this passage conveys: it speaks of imparting spiritual knowledge, and passion … it shows a leader in one generation cheering on a torchbearer in the next generation.  Matthew says it this way:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16, the Message

The call to be a torchbearer is an important call that every Christ follower because we are ALL His torchbearers! How do we do this? We act as “God-colors” in the world by being people of hope, love and grace … we shine the Light of Christ everywhere we can … we have an “open house”, a Church open to all people …  and we are generous with our lives!

Let us pray for the Olympians who have worked so hard to be torchbearers for their countries, let us pray for President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Donald Trump, and Senator J.D. Vance.
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At our last EAT.WORSHIP.SING. our devotional took us on a walk through the decades of life for people born in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s …it was a light, fun reminder of how amazing it is to live a full life, and you can watch it on Facebook YouTube here: GOD of ALL SEASONS DEVOTIONAL
I can’t wait for our trip to Vaughn’s … I hear it’s wonderful!  If you want to go and haven’t let me know, I’ll add you to the list, and if your plans have changed, please let me know because we do have a reservation. If you want to carpool we’ll leave from the church office at 3:30 PM this Thursday so please come a few minutes earlier than that.

If you weren’t in church on Sunday, you may not have heard the announcement I made about Heather … I said it is bittersweet news, bitter for us, but sweet for Heather because she got a great new job at a Rehab Clinic in Mineola and will be starting full-time work there on August 12.  In her new job, she will be making more money AND getting benefits, and since this is what she did before working in a UMC church in Melissa and with us, she’s excited to get back into the healthcare business where she will only work Monday-Friday, 9-5. Heather and I work really well together, and I will miss her tremendously because she’s been an incredible asset to our church, but THANKFULLY, Heather is going to stay with us part-time to do what she was originally hired to do finances.

BE A TORCHBEARER FOR SOMEONE THIS WEEK!

Pastor Debbie


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7-15-24 FUMC Updates … Remain in Me

On Saturday, former President Trump survived the closest assassination attempt on a U.S. president since Reagan was shot in 1981. A bullet grazed his ear, and he is a bit bruised from being “covered” by Secret Service agents protecting him with their OWN lives, but he’s otherwise fine and looking forward to the Republican Convention that starts tonight. Sadly, a 50-year-old former volunteer fire chief attending the rally was fatally shot as he “covered” his wife and 2 daughters from the bullets coming in their direction. Two other innocent people were also critically wounded before a Secret Service sniper shot and killed the shooter.

 

There has been a lot of speculation about why the 20-year-old assassin did what he did and how he got on a rooftop within sniper distance of the former President, and there will be a lot of eyes on the process of answering that question. But as Christians, I think we need to keep our eyes on JESUS!  There is so much political conflict in our country today, there is such a battle between the right and the left! The ability to have natural and normal conversations with people who have different opinions than we have has become a thing of the past because the LOUD voices on the left and the right have hijacked our ability to have intelligent and healthy conversations!

 

We all encounter various battles in life, you might be in a battle right now: maybe you’re at odds with a family member or friend, things are difficult with a neighbor, or someone you love is struggling with a serious illness or addiction. But behind all the things that are happening on the surface: relational issues, daily trials, and struggles in our minds and emotions there is a very real spiritual battle taking place, but that battle is not against other people or even ourselves. Ephesians tells us who our real enemy is:  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

 

What does this mean? I addressed this in-depth in the DEMONS to DISCIPLE message a few weeks ago (6/30/24 on Facebook), but it tells us we live in a fallen world! Some people will do bad things, NOT because they’re Republicans or Democrats, but because sin is real, evil is real! So how do we keep our faith strong? How do we keep the armor of God strong around us? The Lord says: Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:4-6.   Joyce Meyer wrote: we are “everything-nothings” … we are everything with God but nothing without Him! 

 

Let’s stay CONNECTED to the vine and leave the other battles to the Lord, but make no mistake: in the battle that matters … THE LAMB WINS!  

 

BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER: For our Country (#820)

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We

humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people

mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable

industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence,

discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil

way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the

multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with

the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority

of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that,

through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the

nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with

thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;

all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
KEEP LOOKING UP!
Pastor Debbie

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FUMC Updates July, 9, 2024

I read a fascinating article a few weeks ago about the Painted Lady Butterflies. Working with an interdisciplinary team of scientists, entomologist Gerard Talavera from the Botanical Institute of Barcelona embarked on a decade-long research project to answer the questions: How do they travel such great distances? And what is their point of origin?

Obviously, “tracking migration patterns of tiny, short-lived insects is extremely difficult, since techniques such as banding, tagging or radiotelemetry, used on larger animals, are not possible, so the team had to become scientific “detectives,” examining diverse clues to solve the Painted Lady riddle.” I’ll bypass all the criteria and scientific notes, but the conclusion was that these butterflies crossed the Atlantic Ocean from West Africa.

This is so amazing to me! These butterflies fly at least 2,600 miles over the Atlantic Ocean at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour!  And “because their short lifespan ranges from a few weeks to a couple of months, a round-trip migratory cycle from Africa to the Arctic takes about six generations of butterflies to complete, with one generation passing the baton to the next. … The butterflies could only have completed this flight using a strategy alternating between minimal effort to avoid falling into the sea, facilitated by ascending winds, and active flight, which requires more energy consumption.

We usually see butterflies as symbols of the fragility of beauty, as Christians we see them as a symbol of resurrection … just as a caterpillar “dies” inside the chrysalis only to emerge later as a beautiful butterfly, Christ died on the cross and then rose from the dead three days later! But the metamorphosis that happens from ground caterpillars to flying butterflies also reminds us how Jesus takes broken people and transforms us into beautiful creations when we leave behind destructive choices and embrace new life in Christ.

In one of my Bible readings this week, I read this beautiful scripture from 2nd Corinthians, where Paul speaks about the transitory nature of our physical bodies … he uses clay jars or earthen vessels in which “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” shines in the face of Jesus Christ:

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. … So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For our slight, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7, 16-18

The Painted Lady butterflies’ strategy to survive such a remarkable journey includes alternating active flight with gliding on the trade winds, and this sounds like quite an apropos metaphor for how we need to operate as Christians in order for our faith to be strong enough to face the many challenges of life and survive over the long haul!  I think the Holy Spirit is like the trade winds for us in life …lifting us in ways to accomplish what we ordinarily would not have felt able to accomplish without His help!

Let us be amazed at the beauty, diversity, and complexity of the universe designed by our Creator God and be grateful and determined to use all life for His glory!

 

CLICK here for the monthly calendar of ALL activities and event details.

 

 

KEEP LOOKING UP!

Debbie


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7-2-24 FUMC Updates – happy Independence Day

 

Independence Day … burgers and hotdogs sizzle on grills, and fireworks burst in the sky. We eat, maybe hear The Star Spangled Banner somewhere, watch fireworks, and go home. July 4th has become rather ho hum, another day for big sales in the stores and dusting off an American flag that’s been in the closet. We sure have come far from the early celebrations marking the end of the Revolutionary War and celebrating the founding of a new country, and in this contentious election season, it seems many people on both sides of politics are complaining about everything wrong with our country instead of celebrating what’s good about it! I read this post on the Billy Graham website that might help us reframe what true freedom is about:

 

“Our independence did not come easily; only after several difficult years of war would it finally be won. Nor were our first years as a nation free from problems and controversies (as is still true). But our forefathers were determined to establish a free and democratic system of government, and the Declaration of Independence (together with our Constitution and the Bill of Rights) became the foundation for this. They have stood the test of time, and on July 4th, we give thanks for the wisdom, faith, and courage of those leaders.

 

Although it is not a religious holiday, for many Americans, July 4th is a time to reflect on God’s goodness for us as a nation. Molded into the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (which proclaimed our independence) are these words from the Bible: Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). Our legal system reflects our Judeo-Christian roots.

 

While we look with gratitude to the past on this July 4th, may we also look in faith to the future and commit it and our lives to God and His will. The ancient words of the Psalmist are still true: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).”

 

In the “land of the free,” freedom has somehow become synonymous with personal independencethe ability to make our own decisions and choose our own path in life, to do whatever we want, whenever we want. But this is not the freedom in Christ that we have been given. When Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah, He said that He had come to Earth to proclaim freedom” (Luke 4:18). And on another occasion, He said, If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

 

Jesus was not setting us free to do whatever we wanted; He was freeing us to do what He wanted … to do what we should do. He was saving us to walk in relationship with God and be the kind of people He created us to be, to love God and love others! Our TRUE freedom came the day we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior! On that day, our sins were forgiven, we received the Holy Spirit within us, and we were given the gift of eternal life. Let us live as those who are grateful for that freedom! Happy Independence Day!

 

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The UPPER ROOM Devotionals, which generally arrive several weeks before they begin, were “lost” in transit this month. They are being reshipped, so we should have them this week. Until then, you can read the Daily Devotional on their website and even adjust the text size to make it larger. (When you open the devotional, click the T button on the left). Just click HERE and start reading!

 

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We sent nine cards to Jacob Mason this week, so thanks to those who took a few minutes to be part of our CARING Ministry. As you know, we’re also gathering cards for CARTER HAYNES  now … Ted and Shiela’s son has recently had a very serious surgery on his leg, which will require time to heal and regain muscle strength. Please bring your cards or notes for him this week so we can mail them next Monday, July 8th. (As always, we have a stack of cards in the front lobby of the sanctuary or our office if you want to call us and drop by to get one!)

 

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There is NO WEDNESDAY NIGHT MEAL THIS WEEK, but there will be dinner next Wednesday night,

July 10th, at 6 PM. What a great way to offer your friends or neighbors a fun night out and a GREAT home-cooked meal!

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There are NO SENIOR ACTIVITIES THIS THURSDAY, but we’ll be back next week THURSDAY, JULY 11 with our monthly EAT. WORSHIP. SING. Lunch starts at 11:15, so think about inviting a senior you know who wants to get out of the house, have some good food and fun, and worship God!

Start Thursday with BINGO at 10!

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There will be no BREAKING NEWS this week, but we’ll return next FRIDAY! Yes, we’re moving to FRIDAYS, starting July 12th at 10 AM, so join us at Backstage Coffee for deep conversations about what’s happening in the world without the politics.

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Since we’re talking about the BEST “all-you-can-eat fish feast” in more than 2000 years this Sunday, July 7th (and it’s COMMUNION Sunday, too!), I couldn’t help but get a taste for a good ol’ fashioned fish fry right here in Texas. Please reply to this email and let us know if you and your friends or family want to join us, and we’ll reserve spots for you!


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