It may be the coldest day in recent years. The car thermometer read -14 below on the way to church this morning. Even the dog didn't want to spend time outside.
I realize one of the reasons it is soooo cold is because there is no cloud cover, but the beautiful blue skies and the glistening sunshine on the snow warms my heart. It reminds me that God is always with me. His love for me is greater than the coldest days of winter.
I have been very timid in the past approaching a new year. So many things can go wrong. Family members suffer, friends go through turmoil, bad things happen. I'm approaching 2018 a little different. I know there will be difficult times ahead. There also will be great joy. But I rest in the certainty that God IS and WILL BE with me through it all. I've made it this far because of His love and grace.
So, as I sit here looking at the brilliant sun's rays sparkle on this cold winter day, my heart rests in the knowledge I am never alone on this journey. He is with me, giving me strength.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3.5-6
by DeeDee Sigler, FFUMC Lay Leader and Representative to the IUMC Conference
The following are her reflections on the June meeting.
"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." -- Jeremiah 29:11
The theme for the 2016 Annual Conference of Indiana United Methodists was Be. Hope. Embraced / Lived / Realized.
Over and over, the message we heard at conference is that one of the best ways to share hope is through story. Take every opportunity to share our faith story with others.
How many times do we read this message (or directive) in the Bible? I like the reminder from 1 Peter: "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." - 1 Peter 3.15 NLT
Tell your story
We don't have to wait for someone to "ask us about our Christian hope." Weave your Christian hope, your personal faith story, into any conversation. I was talking to a friend recently about another friend's recent struggles. I used that opportunity to talk about how God has given me strength, comfort and hope in my life situations.
I try to share Christ's love in simple ways . . . I pray for the driver who cuts me off in traffic instead of cursing at them (that's a hard one for me). Say a prayer for a disabled driver and vehicle on the side of the road (or stop to ask if you can call someone for them).
Even simple acts of kindness help remind me I have can take some measure of control in this crazy world.
Pray for the loved ones of those who've died, those injured or those killed. Pray for our soldiers and veterans. Pray for our emergency response personnel. Pray for our world.
Do random acts of kindness
Hold open a door for someone and let them go ahead of you (and share a God Bless as they pass). Pay for someone's food or coffee in a restaurant or drive through. This can remind them there is reason to have faith, to have hope. Send a text with a positive message to someone when they cross your mind. This is another way to give someone encouragement and hope.
Get in the game
Conference speaker Mark Ellcessor, pastor of The Compass Church, a UMC ministry, shared a "hope story" using baseball as the setting. Telling a story from his childhood, Ellcessor mentioned words from his baseball coach, "If you don't throw the ball, we will never win the game."
Ellcessor goes on to say "it's easy to be a disciple and keep your faith . . . but a discipler is
active, a discipler is in the game. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to get in the game."
Ellcessor ending by asking, "What is your sphere of influence? Where can you bring hope?
Are you going to stand there holding the ball or are you going to get in the game?"
Get in the game, share your faith story. It might just be the hope someone needs to develop a personal relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
God is good.
Articles in the FFUMC are from members, friends, and, of course, our pastor.