August, 2019

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

–Romans 12:2

Hall of fame football coach Lou Holtz once said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get moving and grow.”  While I do appreciate his sentiment I think that it is missing an important piece, moving just for the sake of moving is not really growth, nor is it beneficial to anyone.  We know through the Scriptures that Jesus kept a pretty busy schedule. He was on the go quite regularly, traveling from town to town, simply put he was on the move. But, the thing that is easy to forget in all the journeys of Jesus that we read about is that He also took time to slow down and rest.  He took time to step away, to pray to God, to seek God’s will for what He should do next. He didn’t stay stagnate for long, but He did take the time that was needed for discernment and understanding to occur before continuing forward on the journey.

Attached to this month’s newsletter is the Vitality Assessment Report we received as a part of the Local Church Assessment program we recently went through.  Copies of it have been available, but I wanted to be sure that as many people as possible have a chance to see it.  The report recognizes the good and fruitful ministry that has taken place here at Emmanuel, but it also recognizes the challenges we face.  Challenges of financial need, building maintenance, and how best to continue to serve within the Blissfield community. The Lead team is in discussions as to what we can do as a church to address some of these questions, but the questions are not for the Lead Team alone.  They are for all of us. My hope is that we will all take some time in the coming weeks to prayerfully consider and discern how we as individuals, and we as the Church can “get moving and grow,” not for our own benefit, but to bring glory to God and God’s Kingdom.

Please know that I am always willing to sit down and discuss this, as are the members of the Lead Team.  If you have any questions or comments about the Assessment letter or anything else my door is always open.

God Bless,
Pastor Devin

To read the rest of this month’s newsletter, please click here:  August 2019

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July, 2019

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. “

Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)

This week I found myself standing on a beach, my youngest daughter strapped to my chest, blissfully asleep, while I watched my two younger daughters and wife dip their toes into the still slightly chilly waters of Lake Erie.  As I watched the scene play out, the warm sun shining down, the sound of the waves crashing in on the shore, the squeals of delight as the water reached their little feet, I realized just how blessed I am. I am blessed to live my life with my people, Team Pteranodon as we like to call ourselves.

I am also blessed to serve with and alongside such wonderful people here at Emmanuel.  As this newsletter goes to print in July it will have officially been 4 years that I have been here.  In some ways it still seems like it was just yesterday that I took to that pulpit for the first time, in other ways that pulpit feels so familiar and comfortable, it’s almost like home to me now.  I hope you have similar feelings about the past 4 years of ministry that has taken place. I truly believe we have done much good in our community and throughout the world as a part of Christ’s church.

While I may be feeling a bit nostalgic I am not looking to the future with rose colored glasses on.  I fully recognize the difficulties that lie before us. As a denomination and as a church here in Blissfield.  We have done great things together, but we must continue to look to the future and how best to be that beacon of light that Christ called us to be.  Yes there are challenges to face: financial, our building, people to fill volunteer positions, and of course the ongoing denominational struggles.

But, even with those unknowns in our future I still find myself full of hope for the people we call Methodists here in Blissfield, MI.  I find hope because this is a church that strives to bless others, a church that strives to help those in need. We do not have endless resources, but I truly believe we have made great use of what we have in the past, and we will continue to do so into the future.

Thank you for walking this path with me.  Thank you for your continued commitment to Christ’s church.  Thank you for being a blessing to this world.

May God’s abundant blessings be with you now and always,

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of this month’s newsletter, please click here:  July 2019

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June, 2019

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

–Acts 2:2-3

Depending on when this edition of the newsletter makes it into your hands I will either be preparing to be ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church, or that service will have already taken place.

Regardless of when you are reading it there is one thing that I have to say to all of you, thank you.

As my church family you have supported, encouraged, uplifted, and inspired me.  All of your loving words of encouragement, as well as your suggestions for ways I could improve, have helped me to navigate this journey.  The beautiful painting you gave to me as a gift this past week means so much, it will forever be a reminder of the wonderful people I have had the privilege of serving alongside here at Emmanuel.  For these things and so much more I give you my most sincere thanks.

Someone asked me what is going to change now that I am an ordained Elder?  To put it frankly, nothing much. I will continue to work to make sure that all people know of God’s love for them, no conditions attached.  I will continue to empower others to share their love for Jesus. I will continue to use my voice to support the least, the last, and the lost of our world.  I will strive to make the church a place where everyone who comes through the door will be welcomed and know Christ’s love for themselves. I will continue to serve.

The final thing that I know will remain the same is that the people who call Emmanuel UMC home will continue to do those same things.

Because that is what I have witnessed over the past 4 years. A loving community of people who love Jesus and want to show others how amazing that love is.

This month we will celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is a Spirit that I know is very much alive within our Church, a Spirit that is alive within each and every one of us. A Spirit that empowers and encourages us to continue forward in the faith. I pray this month that you will take time to appreciate and recognize that you too are filled with that same Spirit that fell on those first Disciples so many years ago.

Thank you for your love and support, thank you for all you have done for me, thank you for your commitment to Emmanuel UMC.  But, let us not ever grow weary or sit back and think the work is done. There is a whole world of people who need to hear of Christ’s love, so I pray you will continue serving with me as we welcome and love like Christ, let’s get to work.

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the June newsletter, click here: June 2019

 

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May, 2019

Pastor Devin is on paternity leave for the month of May.

Please join us in welcoming Eliza Juniper Smith to the church family.

To view the rest of the May newsletter, please click here: May 2019

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April, 2019

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Philippians 3:10-11

Why? How Come? How many? Are you sure? But, why?

There is a great scene in the John Candy movie, Uncle Buck, where Candy’s character is being grilled by his young nephew on any range of questions.  As the questions come fast and furious he interrupts to ask, “What’s your record for consecutive questions asked?” Without missing a beat the little boy responds, “38”, and the questions and answers continue.  Anyone who has spent any time with a child in that preschool to elementary age group knows how curious the mind of a child can be. As they attempt to learn and understand the world around them the questions can come at a non-stop pace, truth be told 38 consecutive questions doesn’t sound like all that many.

I sometimes wonder how Paul dealt with those early churches that he helped to plant.  I am sure that they had to of been full of people who were curious. Full of questions, likely many of the same questions asked time and time again.  At the beginning of the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians Paul wrote, “To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.”  This all but confirmed for me that Paul from time to time found himself answering the same questions over and over. But I love Paul’s words here, that it “is not troublesome”, even if he is responding to the 38th consecutive question Paul’s response shows that the most important thing to him is sharing Christ with the world.  Later in his letter Paul wrote the verses that I had copied above, the ones that we will use as our theme verses for the month of April. To me those verses are the summation of why we ask all those questions. Because we, like Paul, want to know Christ and the power that his resurrection has shared with all the world. It is why we continue to look to the Scriptures and ask questions, why we continue to seek wisdom and knowledge from them.

My hope for us all as we finish our Lenten journey, as we celebrate Christ’s glorious resurrection on Easter morning, is that we continue to ask those questions.  Continue to seek God’s knowledge and wisdom, continue to seek God’s will for your life. Ask questions if necessary, but make sure you take the time to listen for the answer as well.  As we celebrate this month may we continue to seek God’s will be done.

Blessings,
Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the April newsletter, please click here: April 2019

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March, 2019

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19-20

How many of you have a treasure?  It doesn’t have to be an item that is worth a particularly large amount of money, but it remains a treasure to you nonetheless.  Depending on what that item is you may go to some great lengths to protect that item. It may be in a safe, or even a bank deposit box.  It might be in a cabinet or otherwise protected space so that it is not disrupted or disturbed. It might be something like Grandma’s China that is in the special dish cabinet (you know the stuff that will only see the light of day if the Queen herself is coming to dinner).

As I thought about what items I might consider my treasures I  realized that I am guilty of keeping them tucked away, attempting to  protect them from moth, rust or thief. The truth is, though, that any and every earthly material item has a shelf life. Try as we might to protect them those items can and will eventually be consumed.

I am certain that is why Jesus implored those who would listen to build up instead treasures in heaven.  To be clear I do not believe that Jesus was referencing some heavenly safe deposit box that we will be able to open and enjoy on the other side of eternity.  I think instead Jesus wanted his followers to understand that in the end all those earthly treasures are insignificant and will pass away. But, heavenly treasures they make a difference for eternity.  I once read that we are making deposits in those heavenly treasures when we: give of our resources as well as ourselves; pray and fast in private; forgive someone; share the gospel; love our enemies; endure insults and persecutions.  Basically when we do the things that Jesus taught us to do. And it is here that we see the difference between those earthly treasures and the heavenly ones. Our earthly treasures often result in things kept stashed away privately from the world, while our heavenly ones result in our interaction with or concern for others.

No, I don’t believe that Jesus has the angels keeping a scorecard of who has deposited what in that heavenly treasure bank because that has nothing to do with our ability or inability to join Him there.  Our     salvation has already been bought at a very high price. But, I do believe Jesus has called us to leave behind those earthly treasures and instead seek the heavenly ones because in doing those things we are showing the world Christ’s love and we are promoting His Kingdom here on Earth.  There is a large part of the world who still seek after those earthly treasures, I hope that we, as the Church of Jesus Christ, can continue making deposits in the heavenly ones, not for our glory, but for His.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

To see all the happenings at EUMC and read the rest of the March newsletter, click here: March 2019 

 

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January, 2019

“I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.”

-John 12:46

Happy New Year!  I hope this newsletter finds you and yours doing well.  It might be a bit of carry over from the Christmas season, but, no matter what the previous year held there is always something about the start of the new year that makes me hopeful and joyful.   I fully recognize that in reality not much changed in the moment that 11:59 pm on December 31st became 12:00 am on January 1st. That one single moment did not fix all the problems in the world. It did not suddenly make anything better.  So why be hopeful, why be joyful? Well a colleague of mine shared this picture on New Year’s Day…

For me, that single comic panel summed up why as this new year begins I pause and take a moment to be hopeful, to be joyful.  Sure I  could look around at the state of the country and the world. I could allow the anger, the hatred, the conflict,  the distrust that is readily apparent to set the tone for how the year will go…

OR…

I…we, can choose to plant flowers.  Yes there is plenty of darkness in the world, but, there is also light. We just finished celebrating that light coming into our world, offering us hope, love, joy and peace and my friends, that light has not gone out. The light of Christ burns bright into all those deep dark places in the world, and in our lives.  I hope you will join me this year in not just basking in that light in your own life, but also spreading it. Let us make this world a better place through our words and our actions. Let us make this world a better place by sharing the love we know in Christ.

Join me in planting a flower today.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

 

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