November, 2018

Esther 4:14 “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

What am I here for? What’s the point? What is the meaning of life? Maybe you have found yourself asking one or all of those questions at some point in your life. A recent edition of Reader’s Digest compiled a list of some of the best quotes pertaining to that last question…What is the meaning of life? Among those answers:

  • “My aim is to spread more smiles than tears.” – Tupac Shakur
  • “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on…” -The Beatles
  • “Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.” -Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
  • “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” – David Viscott

I don’t know if any one of those is the final be-all-end-all answer on what is the meaning of life, but I do think they all offer us some good guidance in finding meaning in our lives.

Just a few weeks back I preached from the book of Esther. In that story we see the young Jewish woman, Esther, suddenly vaulted into a situation that she never expected to be a part of. I am sure she asked herself those same questions that I listed above, wondering why she found herself standing at a crossroads with the Jewish people. One path led to redemption and freedom, the other to eradication. “Why me, what am I to do?” she wondered. It was her cousin Mordecai that laid it out for her when he told her, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

I think that all of us have metaphorically stood at those crossroads in our own lives, our families, our church, our nation, our world. If you are like me you have been left asking the same question as Esther, “Why me, what am I to do?” I encourage all of us to hear Mordecai’s words anew, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Now you could shrug it off and think, I’ve not been brought to “royal dignity”, but to those comments I would remind you, YOU are a child of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. Each of us is the daughter or son of the King, that by default makes us a part of a royal bloodline, one that goes back to Jesus, back to David, back to Abraham, back to Adam. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, chosen and loved by the Creator of the World. We have all been given a place to serve, we have all been given gifts to use, we have all been given a chance to make a difference.

I pray that we can all maybe find a sliver of the answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” in our service to our Savior, Jesus Christ. All of us together are the Church, here for just such a time as this. It is my honor and my privilege to serve with and alongside each of you as we work to make this world a better, more meaningful place.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October, 2018

“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.” -Ephesians 5:8

It seems like the last week or so has finally made it clear that fall is here. The garden produce is thinning out, there is a chill in the air, the leaves are turning colors and the days are getting shorter. It is probably that last one that I dislike the most. I love the long days of summer, being able to be outside and feeling that warmth on my face, as well as being able to throw the kids out the door and letting them burn some energy. When the days start to shorten it makes me try to soak up every last bit of sun I can get before the real cold weather sets in.

Perhaps my dislike for the long, dark days of winter comes in part because of what Paul reminded the Ephesian church in his letter to them. We all were in the darkness when we were slaves to our sin, but because of our Lord and Savior we are now in the light.

We are forgiven for those dark times and called to live in the light, called to be those who spread that light. That is my challenge for all of us in this season. The days may not be as long and it may seem like we spend more time in the darkness, but hold on to your identity in Christ as a child or light. Let that light shine brightly, let it shine into a dark world that is in need of a little bit of light.

Blessings,

Pastor Devin

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September, 2018

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”

Colossians 3:2

Can you believe what it says at the top of this newsletter? That is not a typo or mistake it  truly reads September! This past week I have found myself wondering how in the world is it already  September. Summer just started yesterday, didn’t it? Now I don’t have any complaints because I have enjoyed my summer. Time spent with family and friends enjoying a beautiful Michigan summer, and also the time spent worshiping and having fellowship with my church family. I think that is where my disappointment comes from, I want more of that time. I don’t want what I have enjoyed so much to come to an end.

As I found myself in this place of not wanting things to change I read the words from Paul to the Colossian church that are written above. Those words served to remind me that when we focus our attention and energy on the things of this world we are inevitably going to be disappointed. Whether it is disappointment with the changing seasons, with a friend or family member, maybe even with the church, at one point or another we will find ourselves   disappointed. However, if we focus, “on the things that are above,” if we focus on God and direct our energies and efforts toward Him to serve, and worship, and pray we will find the one thing that never changes, God’s love for us.

I hope that in this season of change you can set aside time to be with the one who does not change. Set time aside to serve, to worship, and to pray. Because for all the change that will surely be taking place around us in the coming days there is a comfort to be found in the one who remains faithful, the one who remains unchanged, the one who loves us through all the seasons of our lives. I pray we can all find time to experience that  presence.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August, 2018

“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:8

As I sit to write this article I find myself doing something I have done a great deal of in the past few weeks, staring at a computer screen. As many of you know I am currently in my final stages of working towards    being an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. A significant part of that process involves each candidate writing their own Theological Statement. This is a rather significant paper, in both length and  content, that is to  include answers to a number of questions presented by the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Book of Discipline. So as I said I have spent a fair amount of time over the last few weeks staring into the confines of this screen.

However, in  reflecting on this experience of writing and sharing my experience I have come to realize something. I am so very grateful for all of you at Emmanuel. Many of the questions revolve around my  experience, or things I have learned in my first few years in the ministry and I have found that I have been truly blessed during this first appointment I have found myself in.

As the Scripture above notes, God is truly able to provide us with an abundance of      blessings. I have felt and experienced that myself in our time worshiping and  serving and ministering together. It has been my honor to serve with you and my hope and prayer is that we are able to continue   moving forward with the mission of the church. That we are able to recognize the gifts we have been given and that we are able to share them abundantly with the world around us.

Our name, Emmanuel, says it all. God is with us. God has been with our Church and has blessed our Church in many ways, for many years. Let us continue to share that blessing with the Blissfield community and the world at large.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July, 2018

“When you search for me, you will find me;

if you seek me with all your heart”

Jeremiah 29:13

I am writing this on what up to this point has been the hottest day of the Summer. Temperatures topping 90 degrees, humidity at just about the same numbers, it is hot out there. Right about now the only thing that most of us are seeking is a room that has the A/C cranked up, or a nice cool pool.

I do hope you were able to find one of those two during this stretch of hot days. However, I also recognize that finding that cool space will really only care for our physical needs, it will do little for our spiritual ones. To tend to those needs we must search in a different way, a way that often doesn’t require us to move at all.

The verse from Jeremiah that I shared above is a snippet of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent to those who were living in exile in Babylon. These were a people who were struggling with their faith. They didn’t know who they were or what the future held for them. Jeremiah knew of the struggles they faced so he wanted to encourage them to not lose hope. His message was simple, God has not forgotten you, so don’t forget about God. He wanted the people to know that even with the hardships they faced God was with them, they only needed to search for him with all of their heart and they would find him.

Few of us know what it is to live in exile…but all of us know what it is to go through hardships and to feel like God is not there. The summer months are an easy time to half-heartedly search for God. To not get the response we want and dismiss it as God is not there. My friends, I want to remind you, like Jeremiah reminded his people all those years ago, that God is still there. God is always there.

God has not turned his back on you, on me, or on the church. I want to encourage all of us during these hot, sweaty, sticky summer months to continue to search for God. Invite that presence into your life so that if can tend to all of our needs, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Make it a point to spend time in the Scriptures, in prayer, in song, in fellowship, however it is that you experience God don’t let the summer months slip by without searching for a deeper relationship. I’m willing to bet that when you find that presence, when you find God, you will feel refreshed in a way that no A/C or pool can ever compare.

Blessings,

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the July newsletter, click here:  July 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June, 2018

“for the Lord will be your confidence

And will keep your foot from being caught.”

-Proverbs 3:26

As we enter this month of June, many people’s thoughts turn to one thing: Summer break! This means different things to different people. To students it means a several month reprieve from the classroom. To many it means a summer vacation, or time away from work to recharge. To all of us it is a welcome season of warm weather and a chance to enjoy the beauty of God’s  creation. But before we can truly get to summer, there is one thing that comes that all students dread… Final exams! It is an inescapable fact that those tests will come. For many college students they have already completed them but for others they still loom in their future. While I no longer am a student I, too, am looking at some testing in my near future, in the form of ordination paperwork and interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry.

I don’t know what it is about tests that almost always elicits negative emotions. I suppose it is the fear of failure that we all have experienced. A fear of being told we aren’t good enough or don’t know enough, or that we simply aren’t enough. Sometimes that fear can be a crippling thing, it can prevent us from thinking with a clear mind leading to a self sustaining loop of fear.

As I reflected on my own fears this week, I found myself in the book of Proverbs. And while Solomon has many wise and encouraging words throughout the book I came across verse 26 (that I began this article with). This was the message that I

needed this week. The reminder that that no matter what I face, no matter what any of us face, the Lord will be with us. The Lord will be your confidence. The Lord will be with you to look that fear in the face and then to move past it. The Lord will guide your steps and will not let you be caught up in the traps of fear and doubt.

Maybe you have a test before you, whatever form that test may take. Maybe, like me, you are a little fearful of that test, afraid that you aren’t enough. My friends, let me assure you that you are enough. You are enough because the Lord is with you. The Lord will be with you before, during, and after whatever trial you may be facing, and no matter where you find yourself, the Lord our God still goes with you and loves you. That is the reassurance I hope you can hold on to this day and every day. Let us give thanks for that love that knows no end.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the June newsletter, click here:  June 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May, 2018

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

-2 Corinthians 5:7

We take a lot of things for granted , don’t we?  We expect when we turn on the faucet that water will come out, and not just water but hot water will be ready on demand when we want it. We expect that when we plug something into the wall it will have power, that electricity will flow into it and allow us to use that device. We expect that when we put the key in the ignition the car will start and take us where we want to go. We expect when we tap those buttons on our phones we will be instantly connected to someone, anywhere they may be in the world. We could probably continue to list things we expect to happen until this newsletter was full. But the truth of the matter is that few of us understand how all those things actually are accomplished. We may have a basic understanding of some of those processes, but few of us understand all the intricacies of what makes those things possible. Even with our lack of knowledge we still believe that those things will happen.

When it comes down to it our faith life is not a whole lot different. We do not fully understand God and God’s ways, yet we still believe. Sometimes that belief, that faith, doesn’t come easy and we may struggle to believe. If you’ve ever felt that struggle you are not alone. If we want to be honest with ourselves we’ve all had that struggle at some time in our lives. However, I came across these words this week and they really struck me:

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.

I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.

I believe in God even when He is silent.

Those words were found scratched into a wall at Auschwitz. In one of the worst places, worst situations an individual could have ever found themselves. Yet whomever this person was still KNEW that God was with them, even if they couldn’t feel it or hear it in that moment. That, my friends, is faith. Sometimes it goes beyond all reason or understanding. Sometimes those who don’t have it or are struggling with it will think it is crazy to believe. But as Paul wrote to the   Corinthians, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Sometimes all we can do is take the next step, not knowing where it will lead.

No, I do not fully understand God and God’s ways. I don’t have the processing power in my brain to do so. But I do have faith in God. A God who is good, a God who loves each and every one of us. Let us continue to hold tight to that faith, that belief in things we cannot see, even through life’s valleys until we emerge on the other side into the light of God’s love.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

To see the rest of the May newsletter, click here: May 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment