What do you believe

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I had no idea why God wanted me to do this.  For six months I had been fighting Him!  I did not even know what a blog was.  How could I write a devotional five days a week?  After fighting God for six months I agreed to begin this journey.  The first miracle was I set (do not even know if that is the right word) up my own website through a computer program.  I just wanted to write - not do all of this!  Then came the “about” page on the web site!  At first I thought that would be easy but the more I thought about it the more serious it became.  I began to think about what I believe in. Anyone could write a blog but before I would read one I would want to know their beliefs. Years ago I had written my own mission statement.  “To live my life in joy with a continuously growing relationship with God.  Through listening and being obedient I will help further the Kingdom of God.”  Then I decided I must have the prayer of Salvation.  But the more I thought the more I decided this really doesn’t tell someone what I BELIEVE. 

As I began to write my beliefs, I began to see that each statement made me go deeper.  Each statement was important because of the previous statement.  Once I began to write, “I believe in the One and only God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth” it all came out.  Under “What I Believe” it says, “I believe in the One and only God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who was conceived by the Holy spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate.  I believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God.  I believe in the Holy Spirit.  I believe in salvation by the grace of God through the faith of Jesus Christ.  I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.  I believe the bible is the living Word of God.” 

I realized that all those years of reciting the Apostles Creed in church had helped me remember the basics of what I believe!  I also realized that I have been reciting the Apostles Creed for many years - since I was 12 years old. I went through Confirmation class and we learned about our church's beliefs and we learned the Apostles Creed .  (We will be celebrating our Confirmands this Sunday at the 9:45 service.)  It is not Scripture, but it is a simple list of the great doctrines of the faith.  It is a profession of faith - you are stating what you believe. 

Shortly after Mike and I got married we visited his paternal grandmother who was Baptist because there was “no other way into Heaven!"  She nor the rest of the family  was pleased that I was Methodist.  They seemed happier with the grandchildren that did not attend church!  After Grandma got to know me, she told me one day, “you know why I never liked Methodists?”  I was afraid to ask why - I was sure she had a list!  She said, “because y’all say y’all believe in the Catholic church.”  At that point in my life I could not have explained a lot but I did know the answer to this.  I explained to her that we were not specifically saying the “Roman Catholic church”.  We were declaring the body of Christ, the church as a whole across the world as one fellowship.  The word “catholic” means universal.  “Well, that is the first I have heard of that!,” was her response.  She never had a problem with me being Methodist again!  I am glad I knew what I believed in.  

We need to know what we believe!  As Pastor Tim said “we better know what we believe before the world tries to tell us!” In other words, if we do not know what we believe, we may believe anything!  Even the Bible tells us we should know what we believe by knowing God’s Word.  2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  We all have a belief system whether we think we do or not.  What we believe affects every area of our life and shapes every decision that we make.  Yet, how many of us have taken the time to really think about what we accept as true?  

2 Timothy 1:12-14, “That is why I am suffering as I am.  Yet this is no cause for shame because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.  What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  We are to guard God’s Word which has been entrusted to us! 

In Romans 16:19, we are told, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Each time we face a problem or a decision we need to know what God’s Word says.  Knowing what we believe is essential in developing a sound system of beliefs founded on the truth of God’s Word.  What do you believe? 

National Day of Prayer

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The first Thursday of May is National Day of Prayer in the USA.  The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and Senate to designate the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on Thursday, May 5, 1988.  All Americans, regardless of their confession, are called to turn to God in prayer and meditation on this day.  Many Americans assemble together in prayer for the nation.  Prayer is important and the Bible makes special mention of praying for those in positions of authority.   

Do you remember after 9-11 how united our community was?  The whole Eastern United States had flags on their vehicles.  Churches were packed.  There were amazing stories going around about people coming together.  In a smaller capacity, Hurricane Florence brought people together.  I am still hearing stories of how people came together. There were a lot of people praying!  It is amazing what God can do when we all have the same focus!

When believers pray for the same thing it creates a sense of unity.  The Holy Spirit knits us together in a bond of fellowship like nothing else in life.  We cannot do this on our own.  It puts us all on the same page and we all seek the kingdom of God first.  This is a huge witness to struggling believers because it encourages them by the concern of those coming together.

Many people pray for America on a regular basis, but on National Day of Prayer we are able to join together across the nation and pray in unity.  Several scriptures come to mind for me to reflect on in observance of The National Day of Prayer.  II Chronicles 7:14, "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  Psalm 33:12-22, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,  the people he chose for his inheritance.  From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.  No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  

Matthew 18:19-20, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."   Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  1 Timothy 2:1-4, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

We have an awesome opportunity to petition God on behalf of our leaders and those in positions of authority.  Ephesians 4:3, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  I think America is in a spiritual crisis and we need to take all actions to come together.  God is the only One who can do this!  2 Chronicles 30:12, "Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord."  God's power can unite our families, our work places, our communities, our cities, and our nation.

Join us Thursday night, May 2nd, at 6:30 pm for a National Day of Prayer service and a healing service in the gym.  This is an awesome honor to be able to come together with fellow Americans and pray for our nation!

Easter Is Not Over - A ministry blog reflecting on Lent and Easter

All you have to do is look on social media to see that Easter was a success….family and friends gathered together in their new outfits and hats.  Tables decorated a week in advance.  Church parking lots were overflowing!!  It was a wonderful day and for some a wonderful weekend!  Here at PVUMC, we had a wonderful week with the Maundy Thursday service, to the Good Friday service, the Easter egg hunt, and four powerful services on Sunday. The congregation brought beautiful flowers to decorate the crosses. There were so many volunteers helping to make four services possible.  We had record attendance!  It was all very special and I felt an overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit!  All of those things are great but the greatest is the hands that were lifted during our closing prayer.  Our hearts should still be rejoicing over the hands lifted to Jesus -for the first time - ready to make Him their Lord and Savior!  The beautiful flowers may be gone from the cross but Easter has just begun!

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Plants and trees that have been dormant for winter are coming back to life.  Even some animals are coming back to life.  Of course, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of new life and rebirth!  We have gone through our 40 days of Lent, studied the mountaintops and valleys of Holy Week and Easter morning!  Now what?

John 20:19-22, On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.”  I cannot imagine the lack of hope and fear that the disciples felt after the crucifixion and experiencing the empty tomb.  Then Jesus comes to be with them to give them peace in place of their fear.  He even showed them His scars on His hands and side.  Then Jesus breathed His breath on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and go out into the world where I send you.

In the next chapter, like us, the disciples were back to business.  John 21:3-6, “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’  ‘No,’ they answered.  He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”  

John 21:15-17,  “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’  Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’”  I think Jesus was telling them things are not over - they are just getting started!  If you love me then go find my people and teach them what I have taught you. 

As you go back to your “before Easter” schedule (work, school, meetings, taking care of the kids, ball practice, extracurricular activities, etc.), think about what Jesus said.  Easter is not over.  It is not a holiday that goes up on the shelf with the wreath for next year!  It is time to follow Jesus!  It is about the fact that He is victorious and triumphant!  As many of you said at church, “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  The story of Jesus with us is eternal!  When He breathed His Holy Spirit upon us He empowered us to follow Him. 

What difference has this Lenten season made in your relationship with Christ?  Did you experience, or are you experiencing, a renovation?  (It is never too late to renovate!)  Easter morning is the beginning of the story.  Are we going to become one of Jesus’ disciples?  Or are we going back to our daily life which takes away from our relationship with Jesus?

For Christians Easter is a 50-day period.  It is called the season of Easter or Eastertide, which begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  Let us use this time to experience what it really means when we say, “Christ is risen!”

Are you lying dormant, or are you ready to spring forth with new growth and be an Easter people?

Praises Through Pillowcases – A Pine Valley United Methodist Church blog about the Common Thread Ministry

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As I visited a dear friend in Hospice, preparing to leave this world and go to be with our Heavenly Father,  I smiled as I saw her head on the beautiful butterfly pillowcase.  It wasn’t just any pillowcase - it was one my church made for her.  It touched me so that I decided to go see what Common Threads was all about.  My family laughed that I would do anything that even had the word, “sew” in it.  Or “iron!”  But there was lots for me to do.  I cut ribbon, cut fabric, ironed pillowcases, etc.  So much love went into those pillowcases!  Here is the story of how Common Threads came about and how God continues to take care of this ministry!

Years ago one of our church members had gone to an Aids workshop for caregivers and her heart was broken.  She heard a testimony that touched her deeply.  She had been making pillowcases for loved ones and decided maybe she could make them for the Aids patients.  She wanted to do something uplifting. She asked the minister over the Aid’s Clinic if she could start making pillow cases for the patients. The minister loved the idea and offered to see if they could get a grant to pay for the fabric.  

In 2009, Common Thread began as she got ladies to come to church and sew on Saturdays. A grant was given by the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church for $7000 to buy fabric!  As she said, the minister at the clinic had a much bigger vision for this pillowcase ministry!  With this much grant money they were able to give pillowcases to Hospice, Partners in Caring for Aids clients, and homebound individuals.  After that year the ladies became self sufficient through their Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser each February.  In 2013 Common Thread was organized as a United Methodist Women’s circle. These ladies sew about 100 pillowcases each month.  Over 1200 were delivered in 2018!

Our intentions should be to glorify God, to enjoy Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves, both believers and unbelievers.  Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  We are also to shine the light of Jesus to others.  Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  This is what Common Thread was doing!

When the ladies began taking pillowcases to Hospice, they began writing Psalm 4:8 on the pillowcase, “I will lie down and sleep in peace.  For you, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” David knew his reward was the Lord Himself.  David knew that God’s countenance would fall upon him so he could lie down in peace.  He would be safe and sleep securely - confident that the Lord has his arms around those that trust Him!  What a great reminder! Peter instructed all Christians, not only to one another, but also in relation to unbelievers.  1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 

One day the chaplain at the Aid’s clinic called. One of the patients was going into ICU and was not doing well.  Even though he was a known atheist, he was offered a pillowcase.  He was even told he did not have to accept this gift.  He responded, “I need all the Jesus I can get right now.”  He saw Jesus in that pillowcase!  The gift of the pillowcase represents the gift of God’s love and the resurrection we have in Christ.

God has worked other miracles in this ministry.  When all of the Walmart’s closed their fabric departments, Common Thread had to search for a new source for the butterfly fabric.  They called the manufacturer and was told they only sell to retailers. They wrote a letter to the president of the company explaining the ministry and included a copy of a newspaper article telling what meaningful work they do and one of the pillowcases.  The next day they received a call offering to sell as much fabric as they wanted, any time, for $3.40 a yard, which was wonderful.  In 2009 they shipped 40 bolts and did not charge shipping!  Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  God was the Provider!

Another time the print was discontinued and the factory said “sorry” and offered other fabrics.  A week later a man from the factory called and offered to reprint the butterfly fabric for them but they would have to buy 3000 yards for $10,000.  Both of them laughed.  They looked for other fabric but it was all $10 - $12 a yard.  Another week went by and the man called back and asked if they would buy 2000 yards for a reduced price of $3.00 a yard!  Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”  Later the factory went digital and closed their screen printing factory but they re-opened the factory to print 3000 yards for Common Thread!  

Common Thread is a ministry of compassion to terminally ill patients through the simple gift of a pillowcase.  Their mission is to provide patients, as well as family members, a feeling of comfort for the body, a sense of peace through the colors, and the hope of new life through the butterfly.  After each sewing session the pillow cases are prayed over, for those who made them and those who will receive them.  If you would like to be a part of this ministry, please contact the church office. You will bless others and be blessed by seeing what God can do with pillowcases!

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The Big Reveal - a blog post in the Pine Valley UMC Lenten Renovate series

The Big Reveal

I seemed to be in a season of excitement - for what I was not sure.  I felt I was doing all that I was supposed to do.  I was trying to be patient and follow God's will and perfect timing.  I trusted God was going to find me a job.  By the second year I just thanked God every day for what He was doing for me about a job.  The feeling I had inside was I knew God had more planned for me!  And I had to wait for the big reveal.  I did not know what it was or when it would happen - I just knew something was coming!  I had learned years before not to put God in a box.  He has a much better plan than I could ever imagine!

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In studying "Renovate" with my small group, we studied how God is calling us and asking us if we are willing to go where He wants us to go.  I look back on my life and see that, all along, God was preparing me for this very hour.  One time, before a talk I had to give, I was very nervous and a minister told me not to confuse nervousness with the excitement of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe the burning excitement was the inner excitement of the Holy Spirit for how God was going to use me.

When God asks us if we are willing to go where He wants us to go, He could be talking physically and/or spiritually.  When we are willing to let God guide our path we will go the RIGHT way.  There will be bumps, potholes, detours, etc., but with God guiding us we will eventually get where we are supposed to go!  God tells us that He will guide us along life's path but we will have to choose to stay on His path.  Psalm 16: 11, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

If we do not take the route that God has planned out for our journey we may miss out on a lot of blessings along the way and we will probably end up lost.  We may run out of gas.  If we go His way, it will be the best route without burning unnecessary fuel. We will pull over for rest, instead of directions, and we will see beautiful sights along the way.   Isaiah 42: 16, "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

We are so special to God that He has already seen all the days of our lives - before we were born!  Psalm 139: 16, "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Jeremiah 1; 5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  God's plan for our life is custom made!!  Just for us - no one else!

I think back to the age of 32 when I knelt at the Altar and gave myself 100% to God.  I was already a Christian but I needed to take the next step.  That meant I would hold nothing back.  Oh no! That also meant I would do things I did not want to do - that I was too scared to do!  But I gave Him my word - how could I not after ALL He has done for me!?  

Whatever we are called to do, God will see us through.  He will provide every person and every resource that we need. I look back and see where He pushed (ok - gently shoved) me through some areas that were very much out of my comfort zone!  Looking back I know had I not written those talks and learned that writing came easy for me, I would not have wanted to move on to the next challenge.  God laid on my heart to write a book which resulted in writing four.  I found myself starting Sunday school classes, a circle, and leading retreats - all out of my comfort zone.  None of these things were easy.  In fact, anyone around knew that giving talks was my greatest fear.  I still do not like doing them but I also know God WILL show up and stand in front of me!

I am so thankful that God prepared me for my new job on the ministry team at PVUMC; telling stories about how God is moving!  It brings tears to my eyes to think how He found the perfect job for me. Sharing the Good News and using my God given gift of writing is amazing!  I know this is of God because no one else would have come up with this job!  Don't miss out on the perfect plan God has for your life!  When you give yourself 100% to God, it is amazing what He can do to you, for you and through you!

God is ready to guide you down your path.  He is waiting to embrace you with open arms!  He has good plans for our lives that can be trusted.  Pray what David prayed in Psalm 25: 4.  He wrote, "Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths."  Or as in the The Passion Translation version, 'Lord, direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you."  Will you go wherever He wants you to go?  What will be your next big reveal?

Easter is a great time for new beginnings, growth, beautiful changes, and hope!  Come celebrate Easter Sunday with us at 6:30 am, 8:15 am, 9:45 am or 11:15 am. See what God wants to reveal to you!

Light in the Darkness - A Pine Valley UMC Ministry Blog about Maundy Thursday

I think we have all walked into something that we know was not going to end well.  Whether it was a meeting about a job, a doctor for a diagnosis, a meeting with a spouse, a meeting about your child, and many other scenarios.  Most likely we stressed about that situation as long as we were aware of it.  It affected our mood, our appetite, our sleep, our stress levels, etc.  Have you ever thought of Jesus’ feelings as He faced His destiny? 

Jesus knew the battles He was getting ready to face.  He knew within a week the end of His life on earth was going to be like no other.  He came to live, die, and be resurrected. 

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Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week.  Jesus did a lot of new things on this day because it would be His last day with the disciples.  Jesus began the traditional Passover dinner by washing the feet of each of the twelve disciples.  He had never done this before.

Their feet would have been dusty and cracked. A servant would normally have taken a basin and washed the feet of guests arriving for a meal. In the late 1990's I had a minister who would use foot washings for many of our spiritual retreat teams.  I do not care for feet - only baby feet.  That being said, it did not bother me nearly as badly to wash someone else's feet as someone washing my feet.  It was uncomfortable and humbling.  I cannot imagine if the King of Kings would have washed my feet.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about.  He would scrub away our insecurities, our doubts, our weariness, our bitterness, and our deepest hurts!  Jesus' words to Peter are also addressed to us: John 13: 8,  "'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'  Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’”

Jesus also talked about the sacrament of the blood and wine for the first time. The disciples had never heard of eating flesh.  Jesus also told them of a new gift.  The gift of the Holy Spirit which meant although He would not be beside them, He would be inside them.  Jesus gave them a new commandment to love one another.  John 13: 34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Jesus brought order out of chaos in this world.  He brought light into the darkness.  We do not have to wait for Him to come to experience His peace.  We can have it now.   Jesus told his disciples that peace was the last gift He would give them.  John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  Jesus' last actions were washing, feeding, and teaching His children.

A Maundy Thursday service reminds us of the Biblical truths that we have forgotten to remind ourselves of through the celebration of Easter.  It is a somber service to draw us into the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  It begins with dinner with friends and ends somberly.  We are reminded of God’s provision in which Jesus offered up the bread and the wine, that was broken and shed for us.  Jesus’ night began with dinner with close friends and ended with blood, anxiety, deep betrayal and walking towards a torturous death. Jesus’ night turned suddenly, beginning with a friend leaving the meal and betraying Him.  Then they went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray for what was getting ready to happen.  He asked His friends to keep vigil, but they could not even stay awake when He needed them most.  He was betrayed, arrested, and tortured alone.

When the service is over we leave in silence because the mood has turned to solitude and sorrow.  We are encouraged to think of the weight of all that is to come.  We are to think about the excruciating night of abandonment and torture that led up to Jesus’ death.  

PVUMC will have a Maundy Thursday service April 18 at 6:30 pm in the gym following dinner at 5:30 pm.  Come prepare for Easter and be reminded of what Jesus Christ did for you!

Inviting Others To Church - A Pine Valley UMC ministry blog in the Renovate series

I do not ever remember being "invited" to church because as long as I can remember church was part of my life.  However, I know one of the biggest gifts in my life was an invitation to go on the Walk to Emmaus (a three day spiritual retreat).  Although I knew nothing about it, I know it was God nudging (ok, pushing) me to go.  It was very much out of my comfort zone - very much!  I trusted God and He was faithful beyond belief.  At age 32 I was already a Christian but I gave myself to God 100%, not 90%, not 99% but 100%.  That is when my life changed!  That person who sponsored me had no idea what God was going to do with that invitation but they were obedient in inviting me!  

Someone you know is waiting on an invitation from you.

Someone you know is waiting on an invitation from you.

Some people may already attend church. Some may not be comfortable with church. But there are many other things at church to invite them to.  It could be inviting them to a program at church or a small group.  Matthew 18: 20, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."  Because you know God is already there, they just have to show up.  This could help this person move along the path to a new relationship with Christ or a deeper relationship with Christ.  If you pray about who to invite, and what to invite them to, God will guide you.  If my sponsor had not been bold enough to invite me, I cannot imagine the blessings I would have missed out on over the last twenty-plus years!  And not just me, but my husband and my parents, who I sponsored, and so many friends!  When I was invited to attend an Emmaus weekend it caused a ripple effect, changing many lives and it continues the ripple effect.

The Bible gives several scriptures on inviting people to church.  Colossians 3: 16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."  Romans 10: 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." 

Andrew, in John's gospel, brought his brother, Peter, to Christ. Then he brought a boy to Jesus who had five loaves of bread and two fish!   Albert McMakin who was 24 years old invited AND picked up Billy Graham and took him to an evangelistic meeting.  That night, in that meeting, Billy accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  I cannot imagine if Mr. McMakin had not extended that invitation.  Imagine that ripple effect that continues for generations! 

Why not invite someone to go to church with you?  You never know if you are a piece of the puzzle in God's plan for them.  Our God will do over and above all we can think or do. He just needs us to be a witness for Him.  In the closing words of the Bible, God extends His invitation to all.  He says, “Come!”  Revelation 22: 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’  Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

Invite someone to worship on Thursday nights at 6:30 pm or Sunday mornings at 8:15, 9:45 or 11:15.  

 

A Great Place to Start - A Ministry Blog About Our Thursday Night Worship Services

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When my husband, Mike, and I are going out of town for a weekend, or if he is playing in the band on a Thursday night we will attend that worship service.  While this service is not the size of our other three services, there are “regulars” who LOVE this service.  I decided I needed to get a story about this service.  That is when I had the blessing of getting to know my new friend, Anna Christain.  When we saw each other we both realized we had met before when we sat by each other one week. 

Anna grew up in PVUMC as a very active youth - after all, her mother, Jeanne Scott, worked here and her Dad, Wes Scott, taught Sunday school.  She spent a LOT of time at church. She has fond memories of growing up at Pine Valley UMC!  She even married Andrew, who also grew up at Pine Valley!  However, as a married couple they did not attend church.  As Anna explained, it was not about faith or the lack of. It was about the overwhelming feeling of going into a big church.  It was about starting over.

Even though Anna grew up at PVUMC she said her friends were not there anymore.  And it was so much bigger than it used to be.  She and Andrew needed to find “their” place.  With them both working full time jobs, Sunday was their only day to do things together or go to breakfast.  When they heard about a Thursday night service, they were excited that they could both come straight from work in their casual work clothes.  She said that is like their date night because they leave church and go to dinner and discuss the service.  It is perfect with their lifestyle and “a great place to start.” 

Anna said Thursday night service was like having the opportunities of a big church without it being a big church.  She mentioned that they do have the children’s moment and a nursery available.  One of the best parts to them about the smaller service is that she and Andrew have gotten to know the ministers better.  She said on Sunday mornings she could stand in line and shake Tim’s hand but now they have gotten to know him.  They have gotten to know the pastors.  They have also been invited to light the candles at Christmas which was special.  Again, Anna does not think these things would have happened in a bigger setting. 

Anna and Andrew relate to Tim and enjoy having sermon series.  They feel like they have found “their” place and are ready to start their journey.  After us chatting, off the record, I said, “I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of you.”  She smiled and quickly said “yes.”  I asked, “Can I quote that?”  And she said yes! 

We are all on a journey and we all start at different places - both spiritually and physically.  How wonderful that we have a place of worship for those who cannot attend church on Sunday mornings.  If you are going to be out of town for the weekend, come to worship on Thursday night. There are many people who have to work on Sundays and this is a great opportunity for them to have their weekly worship.   If they are more comfortable in a smaller setting, let them know about the Thursday night service.  And we may have some people who serve in the church on Sunday mornings and they need a time of worship.  It is a great place to get plugged in.  

In the closing words of the Bible, God extends His invitation to all.  He says, “Come!”  Revelation 22: 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!”  Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  God refers to Christians as His “bride.” We all know someone who we could invite to a Thursday night service. Are we willing to extend that invitation and commitment?

We all know someone who we could invite to church.  Join us and bring a friend on Thursday nights 6:30 - 7:30 in the gym.  It is a great place to start!

When Others Don't Like Our Plans - one blog in the series on Renovate

When my girls, Sarah and Ivey, were little they loved to have sleepovers....especially at our house! They each went through times when they did not want to sleep away. Even when Honey and Pa invited them to spend the night, there was a short period of time that they would not go. Mike and I would be so excited to have a free night and not have to pay a babysitter but they would not go. That was ok because I remember not wanting to leave my mom at times. One night, Sarah and Ivey slept over with my friend and her four children who often played together. Sarah and Ivey were around 5 and 3 years old. Around ten o’clock, Sarah called saying that Ivey was homesick and I needed to come and get them. When I got there I was greeted by Sarah, who hugged me like we had been apart for days. Ivey was not ready so I went upstairs to get her. She said she was staying and that Sarah was the one who wanted to go home. She did not like Sarah’s plan. Once Sarah got home her restlessness left and she went right to sleep. 

Restlessness is the inability to find rest. It is silent and destroys many people. I think often times it goes unaddressed for years or a lifetime. Being restless affects all parts of our lives and it can wreak havoc on our relationships, marriage, work, etc. It can hinder our personal and work performance. It will steal our peace and joy. When we are in that frame of mind it can cause us to make bad decisions in life and relationships. 

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Physical restlessness is when we have sleepless nights. Although we may desperately need and want sleep, our bodies will not let us. Relational restlessness is when people go from person to person and place to place searching. It is an uneasiness with themselves. We do not stay happy for long. It cannot be cured with purchases, people, achievements, activities, busyness, etc. The solution to restlessness is rest. Matthew 11: 28, " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

As I read my small group introduction the word "restless" was used. One of the chapters in the book was, "When Others Don't Like Our Plans" which really spoke to me. A few years ago I found myself feeling restless and unsettled. For me restlessness brought tears and they were coming often. I knew what the issue was and I did not feel I could do anything about it. The tears came because my soul was not settled. I was agitated on the inside. I tried to listen to my body and not suppress things that caused added stress. This issue was a big deal to me and was causing stress. I had identified the problem, but was not ready to take a leap of faith and go where God was calling me. 

I think the tears came from frustration that I knew I was made for more. I also think the tears were coming because I was wrestling with God. Years prior, my dad told me that the tears would stop when I quit fighting God and made the commitment I was struggling with. He had been right. I recognized the restlessness as God calling me for more. People that I respect told me I could not do this and I listened. They also told me why I could not do it. Proverbs 18: 3, "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." Of course they did not understand. They had not heard what God had told me. I realized it was time that I just listen to God and remain in His truth and be attentive to His voice.

You know the saying, "you can run, but you cannot hide" - well that is especially true with God!  That is why staying busy and running won't work. I was tired of running. God continued to call me. As soon as I acknowledged - not just knew - that it was God calling me, I was able to start chatting with Him. I told Him all of the reasons why I could not do this. As if He did not know already, He patiently let me talk. He did not debate with me. He let me know this was no longer open for discussion....just like a parent to a kid! Like Sunday school, He left me with one question to take with me. In that question, He pinpointed the very thing holding me back!!

It was time to trust God - not others. Proverbs 3: 6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." After all He wants more for me! Jeremiah 29: 11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Pray, trust and wait. Psalm 62: 1, " Truly my soul finds rest in God;..." God wanted more for me and I knew it meant I had to make some changes! 

God can not renovate when we are unwilling to making a change! Fast forward a year and a half! God is faithful beyond belief! He gave me just what I asked for and so much more along with lessons in trust, God's timing, and being obedient! 

 

Hurts, Habits & Hang Ups - A ministry blog about Celebrate Recovery

My husband was asked to lead worship for CR - Celebrate Recovery.  Not knowing anything about CR, I was blessed to meet so many wonderful people and learn about this amazing ministry.  CR is a fellowship and the celebration of God’s healing power in our lives through the eight recovery principles found in the Beatitudes and in Christ-centered 12 Steps.  As one progresses through the principles and the steps, they discover our personal, loving, and forgiving Higher Power - Jesus Christ. 

Several times I heard them say CR is for people with hurts, habits and hang ups.  Who doesn’t have hurts, habits or hang ups?  I was looking for someone to share a story with me about CR.  I was immediately given Carmen’s name and she was thrilled to share her story with me.  My job is to share stories with PVUMC of how God is working in this place!  When you read this story you will see He is all over this place working on so many different things all at once.  He is the Great Multitasker!

Carmen grew up in a dysfunctional home and was exposed to a lot.  She was never exposed to church and was unsure about her faith.  At age 18 she told her mom that she was leaving the next day - she was in survival mode.  Her mom asked her to wait two days and she would go with her.  Two days later they left and never returned.

Eventually, Carmen found herself in an abusive marriage thinking she could “fix” things.  She was carrying on the cycle but to her, abuse was normal.  After her husband’s first assault arrest she tried to bail him out.  He lost multiple jobs while she supported him.  When she found out she was pregnant with their first child she knew this would fix everything!  It did change her. She decided to go to church and was baptized with her daughter.

Things were so bad at home that Carmen would encourage her husband to drink so he would pass out.  A DWI left her husband with the ultimatum to either go to rehab or go to jail.  The 28 days that he was in rehab were the best!  After 28 days, instead of going to a halfway house, he went back home and back to his old habits. 

While visiting PVUMC, Carmen saw a sign about “Celebrate Recovery.”  Because she could take her daughter, she decided to go “so she could fix her husband.” Carmen lived two different lives.  No one at church or work knew about her living situation.  Although Carmen was there to fix her husband, after five months she realized she herself had a hurt, habit and a hangup.  At this point she surrendered.  

Carmen’s mother started going to church with her and also joined.  One week after joining, Carmen’s mother died.  She went to tell her husband, who was supposedly not drinking, and he was drinking.  She was devastated because other than her children, she was alone.  While he was not there for her, the church was!  This is when she realized she had a church family!

After her son was born, Carmen stayed home for six months while looking for a job.  She knew she had to get out of this marriage - she was realizing how messed up her life was.  She started sharing with others who she could trust and they encouraged her to get help. She went to the domestic violence shelter and was told if she went back they would get social services involved because the kids were being exposed to abuse.  She felt so isolated.  She was a prisoner in her own home.  Now she says thank God that they made her make that decision or she might still be there!

Through CR and the church they found somewhere for her to stay temporarily and helped her pack her house.  After a week she got a restraining order on her husband and received sole custody of her children. After a head-on collision, her husband was arrested with his second DWI resulting in him to go to jail.  Even through all of this she could never picture life without him.

A former boss got Carmen in touch with an attorney who never charged her a penny for his services!  While this was out of Carmen’s comfort zone, she even joined a circle at church!  After her husband was served papers, she broke down and told her United Methodist Women Circle she needed prayer.  They took care of her and her kids.  She was so nervous to go to court and see her husband that her CR friend went with her.  Her ex-husband started dating and got married as soon as their divorce was final.  Carmen started going to counseling. This counseling would also help with her eating disorder.  She was now half the size she used to be. 

In September of 2018, Carmen’s house was flooded with six feet of water from Hurricane Florence!  Because she worked in the insurance industry, she stayed in town and sent her kids to a friend out of town.  The first night she slept in her car because she did not know what to do.  She had nowhere to go.  Nowhere was open.  Except church!  Volunteers were feeding the linemen every day.  She came to church every day and served.  She was told by our pastor not to worry that we would take care of her.  And he was right.  Immediately a church member offered her an apartment on their property that she and her kids could use as long as necessary.

“All of her belongings were in her front yard…”

“All of her belongings were in her front yard…”

She had 16 people show up to clean out her house. Some took home her grandmother’s depression glass to clean; some took home her china to clean.  Some of the people did not even know her.  All of her belongings were in her front yard.  After the insurance company paid, she had a CR friend help her find a house that had not gone on the market yet. She closed on that house on a Friday and that Sunday, March 17, her circle had a housewarming shower for her!  She showed me pictures of her beautiful new home fully decorated!  Her daughter’s room was better than anything she could imagine! 

Carmen will tell you she always wanted out of her house because it was dark and had so many bad memories!  She wanted to be in a bright and happy home.  Without the flood she probably would not have gotten out of that house.  And remember, she is half her size so she needed all new clothes and now she could get them! 

Through a major renovation in Carmen’s life, she got rid of all the old and dark stuff and has replaced it with new and bright things.  What she thought was going to be the worst thing that could happen to her, has become the best thing that could have happened to her.  Why should we be surprised?  Romans 8: 28, tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Carmen reminded me that six months prior to the closing of her new house, she was sleeping in her car.  Before we left Carmen said, “I gained a family when I went to PVUMC.  I went there to fix someone else and God fixed me.  I feel like life cannot get any better!”  Praise be to God for what He is doing through PVUMC!

If you would like Celebrate Recovery information, please contact the church office.

"It's a Process" - A Renovate Lenten Spiritual Journey series blog post

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Mike and I always wanted to move back to Wilmington.  After our first child, Sarah, was born we sold our condo and moved into an apartment to see what would happen. Mike was in engineering at UPS and was actively looking for a job.  After a year and no luck we decided to buy a house in Greensboro.

We found a neighborhood under construction and found a lot we liked.  We were thrilled to build our first home!  We could just imagine seeing Sarah with a real yard!  Twice we put contracts on lots in that neighborhood and something would happen.  In my mind that house was decorated and perfect for our little family!  I could picture our future family in that house!  Please note that I never discussed this plan with God.  After a while, we found a brick ranch in a sought after neighborhood.  It had a fenced in backyard, a screened porch, deck and Jacuzzi.  We never believed we could have all of that!

Right after my second daughter, Ivey, was born I asked Mike what they would do for fun in the summers.  I truly did not know what people did without a beach.  He told me they would have horses.  HORSES?!  I had to get home!  We started trying to move home to Wilmington.

Within two years Mike had a job offer in medical supplies!  God had opened my eyes when my girls were born but I was beginning to look to Him more!  I asked God if it was meant to be to please work it out for us to get home. I did not have any scripture to quote to Him.  I just asked Him to help us do what was right.  I told Mike I thought we should put our house on the market for sale by owner and see what happened.  Within the month our house sold for the asking price.  We were ecstatic!  God brought to my mind a big lesson.  If we would have gotten that lot and built we would not have been able to sell our home two years later.  The new neighborhood still had many lots and great deals.  Also we would not have made the money we made on this house.  That was the first time I learned to trust God with decisions.  He sees the future and knows what is best....even if we don't understand.  Proverbs 3: 5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight."

I knew God would "show off".  I  do not mean “show off” disrespectfully.  I am amazed at how God can always “outdo” us!  He sees the future and really does know what is best!  I understand Isaiah 55: 8-9, "for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

We moved home and I don't know who was happier: Mike, Mom, Dad, Sarah, Ivey, or me! I often think back to that time and am so thankful that God showed me His ways are bigger and better than anything I could ever think of!  Before I started rebuilding my life away from Greensboro, I wish I would have known that it was going to be a process.  It was going to take some time because God was going to teach me many lessons through this renovation.  As God showed me one little piece at a time I found myself trusting Him a little more with each step.

When we are letting God start a renovation in our life we need to know that it will take time and patience.  It is a rebuild which means we have to get other stuff out of the way.  But that rebuild will be worth the wait!  As Nehemiah 2: 18b says, “Let us start rebuilding!”

“Moving Earth” - a PVUMC Ministry Blog on our grounds crew

Today I had the opportunity to talk with Berry Stephens about his time working the grounds here at PVUMC!  Berry and I were friends at Hoggard High School - although he is much older than I am!  One of the many blessings of coming to PVUMC was getting reacquainted with Berry and his family. It is amazing to see what God has done with our lives since then!  What a gift to have Christian friends!

Some of the grounds crew equipment.

Some of the grounds crew equipment.

Like our long-time friendship, Berry said the best part of working the grounds at PVUMC are the friendships. Berry has shared his gift of landscaping for over 25 years!   One of the men that showed up to work years ago ended up knowing his father and uncle and Berry knew the man’s daughter.  While doing yard work, they visited every week, for years, and they have become lifelong friends.

I knew Berry probably liked working the grounds because he enjoys the outdoors.  When I asked him why he likes to be in charge of the grounds he answered quickly.  “Because I don’t have to write.”  I laughed and then he said, “because I don’t have to speak in front of people.”  His third answer was, “because it takes minimal organizational skills.” 

I laughed when Berry first said he would not have to write because that is what I love to do.  When he said he would not have to speak in front of people, I was on board with him!  Then he mentioned the organizational skills and that is one of my strengths….sometimes to a fault!  God can use us all - it takes all kinds!  We all have different strengths and gifts.  1 Peter 4: 10-11, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms….If anyone serves they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever.  Amen.” 

One of our neighbors who lives close by would speak to the people working on the PVUMC grounds.  He would offer his equipment and visit.  According to him, the church members were so nice and welcoming that a few years later when he and his wife decided to look for a church home they visited here and have since joined.  Another woman, who Berry sees walking her dog, always stops and speaks.  One day she stopped and helped him put out pine straw!  Now he sees her at church!  This is a ministry!

I also talked with Tom Nunalee who used his gift serving in our church yard from 1970 until 2016!  Tom shared memories of friends who had certain jobs for various reasons.  Some had issues walking but could ride the lawn mower, some loved flowering annuals and that was their specialty.  One man trimmed all the shrubs in one day while Tom went behind him picking up the clippings.  When the gentleman aged out Tom took over the trimming.  He intended to do all of the trimming in one day but it took him 3 days!  Everybody used their gift!  Tom also mentioned that picking up litter seems so menial but what an important job that is!  Can you imagine what our church yard would look like if we never picked up the litter? 

According to Tom, PVUMC has saved a lot of money through the years having volunteers do our yard.  This is a church being wise stewards of their money.  Serving is a great form of generosity and an awesome way to honor God!  When we serve we worship God by stewarding our time and talents for Him. Serving with others is a blessing.  When we’re working side-by-side with other people, bonds are formed.  This was part of God’s plan for how the church is supposed to work.  Hebrews 10: 24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

When we see the ways God uses our service to bring glory to Him our faith grows.  Meeting people in the church yard while we are working and then seeing them visit and join the church increases our faith. Ephesians 3: 20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us….” 

Gardening is a great source of exercise.  You can burn calories, build muscle mass, maintain bone density, reduce blood pressure and obesity, etc.  Studies show that volunteering is so good for the mind and body that it can ease stress and depression symptoms.  And you can do all of this while working outside (getting vitamin D) in God’s beautiful creation.  And make friends! 

What an important ministry this is for PVUMC!  Our grounds show that we care about God’s yard.  Berry needs a lot of help with mowing, blowing, edging, raking, etc.  If Berry can get enough help, then people would only have to sign up to work once every eight weeks!  If you are interested in sharing your heart and time with this ministry, please contact the church office and we will get you in touch with Berry Stephens.

- Jill Jarrell Newsome

Crying and Building - one blog in a series on Renovate, Pine Valley's Lenten Spiritual Journey

Crying and Building

Crying and Building

Life was going well and in a moment everything fell apart.  Everything changed! My Dad, who seemed so much younger than he was, had a stroke and went to be with the Lord ten days later.  It rocked our world. Six months later my mother-in-law died of cancer. Three months later my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  The next month my mother had to have a major back surgery. There were other things going on also. I found myself exhausted. Maybe from grief, maybe from bad news, maybe from care giving, maybe from staying positive, maybe from stress or maybe from the whole package!  My season of tears started. And once the tears started they stayed for a while.

Shedding tears can be good for our health.  We have to let our guards down to cry which is a positive and healthy thing.  There are three types of tears but we are talking about emotional tears. Tears can regulate their own emotions.  Tears can calm the body. Tears can reduce their own distress. The Japanese are such strong believers in the benefits of crying that they have "crying clubs".  You can go there for a sobfest! To help the tears flow they watch tearjerker movies. They do this because crying releases stress which is a great way to stay mentally healthy.  Research is backing up that theory.

Society makes people think it is not ok to cry - especially males.  God said in Luke 6: 21, “Blessed are you who weep now.” When Mary fell apart at Jesus’s feet over the death of her brother, Lazarus, "He groaned in the spirit and was troubled."  A short time later "Jesus wept." John 11: 33-35. Jesus had compassion. If Jesus could cry we should all cry!

I thought it was just me but apparently most people have tears right before a renovation.  When the pain is too much to take our body is wired for humility before God. No matter what the problem or pain is we need the peace of God.  Surrendering our situations to God means surrendering our thoughts about it. Remember, what we place on the Altar is altered!

Every tear you shed is preparing for you for God's renovation.  The ability to shed tears is a gift from God. God sees our tears and hears our cries.  He knows what scares us, saddens us and what stresses us. He knows why we are crying even when we are not sure!  Maybe that is why He wants to do a renovation on us. He wants to build something better than we can imagine! 2 Corinthians 4: 17, "These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!"  Who doesn't want God's richest blessing upon them forever and ever?!

God's renovations can cause bitterness to turn to forgiveness.  He can help us let go of the past and embrace the future. He can turn our negative outlook to a positive outlook. What is causing your tears?  What do you need renovated? The Builder is waiting for you!

Not Too Late To Renovate

Not too late to Renovate

Not too late to Renovate

My house just turned six years old which is pretty new for a house.  Even so, there are plenty of things that we could do to our house.  There is always, always, always, something to be done. Just this morning I found my herb garden table broken and half of it on the ground.  We just had the patio and furniture pressure washed so now I notice the weeding that needs to be done and cutting back some shrubs.  Within the month the kitchen faucet was replaced due to the handle continuously falling off.  Since we have had a revolving door on our house the moving of furniture has caused some of the walls to already need painting.  Sometimes the list of things to do gets so long we become overwhelmed and do not know where to start!

Did you know that God describes us as houses in the Bible?  We are the temple for the Holy Spirit, so that makes sense.  1 Corinthians 3: 16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2: 5, “...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” So if we are God’s house, are there some things we need to do?  Do we need to renovate?  Is the list so long and overwhelming that we do not know where to start?

While some of our “outsides” need renovating, all of our “insides” need renovating. God is most concerned with our insides - our souls.  Jesus wants us to make a “to do list” of ourselves.  All of our actions flow from the inside so how can we be a good witness to Him if we do not regularly do renovations?  It is time to make an examination of our heart.  Do we have anger?  Do we have bitterness?  Do we have jealousy?  Do we have lust? Do we have unforgiveness?  And the list goes on.  Do we have anxieties?  Do we have concerns?  All of us have times that we do not feel strong. That is why we all need renovations. 

Here is some good news: You have a foreman who will help you with this renovation. You will be restored!!  Peter 5: 10, “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

As all renovations we will start with cleaning out and getting rid of. There are lots of things filed away in us that we need to look at and decide if we keep it or let it go. Then file it away - let go and let God have it! After all of the old dirty part has been torn away there we are buried in the mess - a child of God. When we get down to the foundation, it must be laid on Jesus. The foundation has to be right!  When we start with Jesus our foundation will be strong and steadfast! Renovations are hard work but exciting!  The finished product will be beautiful!  Ecclesiastes 3: 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time...“

All of us need a renovation and many of us have needed one for a long time. Like houses, there will always, always, always be things to fix.  It is never too late for a renovation. Your name is already on the book, and all you have to do is just show up!

Renovations

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I continue to hear the word, “renovate” at church which is the name of the Pine Valley Lenten Spiritual Journey with a sermon series, small groups, and a study book. When I think of the word renovate I think of a very hectic time but because I can visualize things, for me, it was exciting also.

I remember riding in my Daddy’s sailboat as a little girl telling him that one day I was going to live on the waterway here. I even told him it would have a small sandy beach because I have to get in the water! God brought that dream to reality when we pulled into a yard full of old, big live oak trees with moss in them.  Inside the house, some cosmetic changes were needed.  The final walk was down to the water where there was one small sandy beach - on our property!

The kitchen consisted of an eat-in area, a galley kitchen with tiny cabinets and a formal dining room. Unless you sat in the eat-in area you could not see the view of the water.  We talked with our builder and decided we wanted to make some changes. Make things better.  Because we trusted our builder we let him guide us with his plans.  There would be more than a monetary price for this renovation - it was going to be hectic. Walls were going to have to come down.  If they were load bearing walls additional changes had to be made to get support from somewhere else.  We had to be patient and listen to our builder.  The frustrations of being under construction caused tears several times.  When we saw the finished product we were thrilled.  It was better than anything we could have imagined.  We were able to stand anywhere in our kitchen and see the water and the beautiful live oaks. That space entertained family and friends for 11 years and it was well worth the trouble. 

As I think back on that renovation I believe it is not much different than what God wants to do with us.  He wants us to be able to see and appreciate Him in everything!  Sometimes in order to have a more full and rich life we have to make changes.  God wants to renovate us.  He is our builder and He has the best plans.  We can trust Him!  Jeremiah 29: 11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  If we want the best life we can have it is time to submit to God.

Submitting to God is simply letting Him have His way in our life. We are choosing not to make things happen for ourselves, but letting God control our situations.  We come under God’s authority, wisdom and power.  In other words, we are giving up control.  God has to tear down walls to rebuild us.  This can be painful and difficult and there may be tears but healing will follow. We have to realize Who our load bearing wall is! God will guide us to that place where we will be filled with joy and thanksgiving in the Spirit!   Philippians 1: 6, “...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

When the renovation is complete, it will be beautiful!  It will be better than anything we could have imagined.  We will see God all over it!  Ecclesiastes 3: 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

Are you ready for renovations? Pick up a “Renovate” book and join a small group.  We are told when two or three are gathered together, the presence of the Holy Spirit, will be there. Matthew 18: 20, “For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.” Make plans to meet with your Builder - He has the best plans for you!  Better than anything you can imagine!

Wrapping People in Prayer

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Wrapping People In Prayer

A few weeks ago PVUMC got an email from a lady who works with hospice in New Mexico. While visiting family in Massachusetts over Christmas, she learned of our prayer shawl ministry. She was wanting to purchase one for herself because “it would be an awesome feeling knowing all the prayers would be with me as I pray with my patients.” She went on to say it would remind her that God would give her the words for her end of life patients. Often times she is the last person they see, and lots of them pass with no family or friends there, she explained. She prays for them to “accept Jesus in their heart.” She went on to say she would like to donate to the prayer shawl ministry because she would like to pray for her patients with the prayer shawl on her shoulders knowing that would be a wonderful blessing to all.

When our prayer shawl group heard of this they were thrilled! They chose three prayer shawls and 5 prayer pockets ( 4x4 square that have a cross and a card that explains we are praying for them) and sent them to New Mexico. They told their new friend to pick her favorite shawl and give the others to someone in need of God’s blessings. God is carrying these blessings over 2000 miles! What a wonderful ministry!

I do not know how to knit and I can only imagine the tangled yarn and knots that I could create! What I do know is that a pattern is picked, yarn is chosen, the correct tools are used and then the knitting is done. It is not thrown together haphazardly. This shawl is truly a labor of love. Much the same as Psalm 139: 13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” We were not thrown together either. The Lord carefully thought out all of the tiny details in our lives. He knit us together just as He wanted us making us each special and unique. He gave us talents and gifts that we could use to bring glory to Him!

After the prayer shawls are made they are put on the Altar and prayed over and blessed by our pastors. Colossians 2: 2, “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself.” Paul prays that the believers in Colossae will be encouraged by having their hearts knit together in love. I pray the recipients of these shawls, prayer pockets and baby blankets will be encouraged knowing these were knit together in God’s love and prayed over by believers! These shawls are given to any who are in need of comfort due to illness, grief or other times of transition.

Think through the talents the Lord has given you. For more information on the prayer shawl ministry, contact the church office.

An added bonus - it has been found that knitting provides the health benefits of lowered stress due to the rhythmic and repetitive action having a calming effect.

The IGNITE "And the Winner Is" Show

[NOTE: This blog is about the IGNITE fundraiser held March 2 and 3, 2019 to raise money for the Music in Mission Trip.]

As a newbie at PVUMC I decided to go to Ignite’s fundraiser, “And The Winner Is…”. I am so glad that I went, overwhelmed at the amount of talent our youth has.  I found myself thinking about our sermon series, “our best us.” Then I thought about my childhood and my girls growing up in the church.

Being our best takes practice and perseverance.  I look at these youth enjoying what they are doing and know they know this does not come without practice!  I found myself thinking of the parents who helped, carpooled, worked on costumes, etc. for their youth to be a part of this event. I am grateful for their sacrifice and that the youth get exposed to a variety of different activities.  This encourages their gifts and passions. Even if their passions seem unrealistic, we have no idea where God will lead them!

We are reminded in Hebrews 10: 24 - 25 that our youth need their church  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  They need models and mentors and what better way than working on a fundraiser together! Psalm 71: 17-18, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”  I believe that covered the Tutti Frutti Tots to the Gimme the Willies! [names of the groups performing in the show]

To Grammy and Oscar, I was so Happy that I saw the show I Was Over The Rainbow!  You Are The Champions!  What a wonderful fundraiser to benefit your mission trips - You will be On The Road Again spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ!  Thanks Ignite, PJ, parents, mentors, band, backdrop, sound, lights, video, AV, stagehand and all of the many talented persons involved for a wonderful afternoon!  Thank you for letting God use you and may God continue to bless you and your talents!

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IGNITE Fundraiser on March 3, 2019. All performers concluding the show with “We Are The World”