Category Archives: Pastor’s Page

From The Desk Of Pastor Stan ….. Praying With A Purpose

Following a gracious greeting and a word of thankfulness for their partnership in ministry, Paul offers a brief, but pointed prayer for the church in Philippi. Although his prayer is but three sentences long, it possesses great wisdom and reveals the heart of Paul for the church. Philippi was dear to him. He was thankful for the work they had accomplished and Paul prays for further spiritual growth as they labored for the Lord.   <!–split–>

This brief prayer challenged me in many ways. It reminded me of the pressing need to pray for one another in our day of difficulty. It is impossible to pray too much for the needs we currently face. It challenged me to reflect on individuals within our church and make intercession for the needs and struggles they currently face. Paul was familiar with the church. Our church is made up of real believers who serve a living Lord. I realize that we each have real needs that need to be brought  before the Lord. Paul was also very specific with this prayer. Although it is brief, he mentioned specific needs and addressed specific desires. Much of our praying is too generic. We must care enough to take the necessary time to identify specific needs and pray about them.

As we consider the specific elements of Paul’s prayer, I would like to discuss A Prayer Of Purpose. We discover:

His Concern For Their Love (9) – And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. Paul first mentions a concern for their love. He knew love was essential to their effectiveness and productivity. If their love was lacking, the church would suffer; if their love was strong, the church would prosper. He referred to:

  1.  The Enlargement of Love – And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more. While it seems apparent that love was present in Philippi, Paul desired their love to abound. This speaks ‘of “super-abounding; being in excess; excelling or increasing abundantly.” They possess loved for one another, but Paul knew their love could grow beyond the bounds it currently enjoyed. He wanted their love to increase abundantly, to grow beyond measure! I am convinced love is present among us, but I am sure there is room for improvement. Our love for one another and the lost around us needs to increase. We will never be effective apart from genuine love, but where love abounds there is no limit to what the Spirit can accomplish through us.
  2. The Discernment In Love   And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more knowledge and in all judgment. Paul referred to their love abounding in knowledge and judgment. This reveals significant truth. While they were expected to possess an increasing love for one another and even those without the church, their love was to be guided in knowledge and judgment. This refers to advanced or precise knowledge applied and portrayed in accordance with the Word of God. Their love was to be derived from the Word and lived out in a manner consistent with the Word. Their love was to always be directed by truth.

Paul knew the church must possess a love that stood for truth in Christ rather than a superficial love that sought to soothe and appease the desires of men. They were not called to abandon their convictions for the sake of love. In fact, genuine love identifies with truth. This is a lesson that is needed in our age. We live in a politically correct society that declares we must embrace and approve of one’s actions or be guilty of bigotry and hate. That premise is not based on truth. There are times when love motivates a firm but fair rebuke. Our love must never compromise the truth of God’s Word, but seek to reveal and impart that truth to all men. We cannot love as the Lord desires if the expression of our love is inconsistent with Scripture. I know this phrase is cliché and invokes anger in some, but in realty we are to love the sinner, but not the sin. That is exactly what Paul teaches here!

Paul loved the church at Philippi and was committed to prayer for them. We need to share the same commitment to pray for Bethel Wesley. There are real people with real needs that need specific prayers.

….. (to be continued in November) …..

From the Desk of Pastor Stan

In a letter to the Chimes, I begin a discussion on Meditation. I would like to continue that same discussion using a different approach. This past week I was blessed to have a wonderful conversation with one of the members here at Bethel Wesley. It was a very thought-provoking conversation that led me to share these thoughts with you. When meditating on God’s word, it’s important to put the scriptures in context.  <!–split–>

One of my professors at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta would often use the term contextualization ….. making it relevant for what is going on in today’s society. And looking at the scriptures from the lens of what one is experiencing at that moment.

Case in point: when I read the 23rd Psalm, what does it mean to say the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

What is a shepherd and why was the Lord as a shepherd so important to David? Additionally, how does this passage of scripture relate to me?

I believe the 23rd Psalm was David’s profession of joyful trust in the Lord. David appears to be convinced that the Lord as a Shepherd represented security and protection in times of danger and distress. David also sees the Lord as a provider and that he will enjoy goodness all his life as well.

Shepherds often lead their sheep to areas where they would be secure and experience contentment alongside still waters that provided refreshment. I honestly believe that God refreshes us daily. He gives us strength and wisdom.

When I meditate on the 23rd Psalm in its entirety, I am refreshed and revived. Like David, I am comforted, confident, and my faith becomes and remains grounded in the love I know God has for me. This brings me to this question: what does this Psalm really meant to you? How has it aided you in your walk with God daily?

This brings me back to my point about meditation and resting in the Lord. As recorded in the Bible, rest is built on the foundation of trust in God, even in seemingly impossible circumstances. King David’s writing of the psalms written as he ran for years from King Saul’s murderous pursuit, particularly in Psalms 1-42. Despite being under intense and even deadly pressure, David continually sought God, trained himself to keep his focus on God, and ultimately trusted in God’s protection, His provision, and best of all, His presence. While this may seem counter-intuitive to some, it is quite possible to find rest and peace in God during the most difficult times in our lives. May I suggest perhaps the only way we can survive such difficult times is by making active decisions to rest in God. For me meditation affords me the opportunity to go a little deeper to see where God leads and what He will reveal.

From the Desk of Pastor Stan

The 3rd of March this year was a tough day for me. You see, the 3rd of March is my earthly father’s birthday and  my father-in-law also passed in March. I woke up that day thinking about the both of them and began to really miss their presence. But as I thought about them, I also thought about the many people who have experienced the loss of loved ones. It doesn’t matter whether their deaths were expected because of illness or occurred suddenly, the loss often brings us to a place where we find ourselves missing them and wishing they were still with us. <!–split–>

In this month’s letter I want to share with you one of my favorite Psalms and how it has helped me as I meditated on it. I have found Psalms 91 to be a balm in Gilead for me as I sometimes struggle with understanding God and why God allows certain things to happen in life.

How quickly life can go from smooth routine to troubled and fearful. In Psalms 91 it is encouraging to read and be reminded of God’s protection, dedication, and love even in our sometimes dark and gloomy hours. You see, our peace, joy, and security comes from remembering that God keeps His promises and is FAITHFUL.

David’s strong confessions of faith is an example of trusting God and reminds each of us to seek the Lord for strength and refuge when we are faced with and have difficult moments in our lives. For me Psalms 91 illustrates not only the divine protection of God, but also God’s power over the many perils of life itself.

My mother shared with us that the night my father passed, God spoke to her heart and reminded her of His faithfulness. You see, she began to wonder what was she going to do without my father, her husband, and how could she go on without him. God spoke clearly and said:

I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, DECLARES THE LORD.  Jeremiah 29:11-14

Of course, those of you who know me by now, know that I love to sing. As I mediate on Psalms 91, this song comes to mind and I would like to hare the words of it with you.

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus

He came to love, heal, and forgive.

He bled and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know, He holds the future

Life is worthy the living

All because He lives.

From the Desk of Pastor Stan

“This book of law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and they you shall have good success.”   Joshua 1:8 (RSV)

Our God had no intentions for any Christians to operate under the conditions of stress. It should be noted that Jesus actually took on the curse of our sins. Jesus also took on the curse of stress that we might receive PEACE and REST.

Moving forward, I plan to share my thoughts on how each and every one of us can learn what it means to find rest in God’s Word and His Love. <!–split–>

I am often asked, Pastor Stan, you always appear to be so positive and upbeat. How do you do it and what’s your secret? Well, first and foremost let me say that I have my moments when I don’t feel the presence of God and any peace at all. But what I have learned to do is meditate on God’s word. Some Christians, when they hear the word meditate, often associate it with being a difficult and often time-consuming task. Actually, I have found that meditating on God’s word is actually refreshing and uplifting.

Rick Warren (founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Forest Lake CA) said in his book, The Purpose Driven Life the following about meditation.

Meditation is ‘thinking about God’ – His essence, His desires, His plans, His mercy, through each day. And the only way a Christian can do this is by knowing God – and the only way a Christian can know God is through His Word. Meditation allows God to share His secrets (revelations) with His children – to speak to His children in a close and personal way. To properly meditate requires a life of studying God’s thoughts recorded in the Bible.

Let me say meditation isn’t easy; however, meditation can change your life. Are there areas in your life that need to be changed or refreshed? As recorded in Joshua 1:8, meditating on God’s Word day and night will enable us to prosper and be successful in every area of our lives.

There are 3 steps that we must adhere to, to master the art of meditation. We must memorize, personalize, and visualize. Some people get uptight at the mention of the word, memorize. Some may even say I’m too old. Jesus promised us in John 14:26 “that our Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom that Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” This is very important in the process of meditation because we have to spend time reading our Bibles.

The second step to meditation for me is to personalize God’s Word. As I read God’s Word, I often say, this is God’s Word for me regarding this situation and God is no respecter of person. In other words, God’s promises are for me and others who embrace His Word. Finally, I visualize when meditating on God’s Word by accepting God’s Word as a reality in my life.

Like Joshua, I want my life to be a testimony of the power of meditation and the  blessings it brings. Like Joshua even in my mistakes I desire to be prosperous and successful in advancing the Kingdom of God. Spreading love and hope. Sharing the beauty of a love that was exhibited on an old rugged cross.

Like the Apostle Paul, “Oh that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

Tim’s Tidbits

As Myra and I prepare to say goodbye to you as your pastor, we also say goodbye as your friends. With each appointment there are lasting relationships forged, and we are grateful for each and every one of them. Even though pastors are told that we are not here to be your friends, but to be your pastor, it is hard not to make friends as we become part of your family. We have laughed and cried together, served together, agreed on some things and disagreed on others. <!–split–>

We are also grateful for the many blessings we have received from God through each of you. We never know how or when we are going to affect someone’s life, but God opens the door to make blessings happen.

As we pack and get things in order to make the move, I am reminded of Abraham and Sarah when God called them to go to Canaan. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. So Abraham went as the Lord had told him: and Lot went with him. Abraham was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. Abraham took his wife Sarah and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered and the persons they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go the land of Canaan.” Genesis 12:1, 4-5.

They didn’t have the modern conveniences that we have today to make their move possible, such as a moving company. It was done on foot with donkeys and other pack animals. They also didn’t have a lot of the material possessions that we have amassed over the years. I’m sure they didn’t have a cabinet full of Tupperware, dining room furniture with a hutch full of china, and they definitely didn’t have totes of seasonal decorations. Their life was simplified compared to the life we live today.

But the one thing that we can always count on is God’s constant love and abiding care to help us, whoever and wherever we are. As we submit to God’s will, being faithful and obedient servants, God will bless us on our journey. God will bless us as we venture to Norris City and  God will bless Bethel Wesley as you journey forward under the leadership of a new pastor.

Many people will pass through your life and through the doors of the church. We welcome each opportunity s a blessing from God. As we move forward, we continue to keep each of you in our prayers as God’s blessing abound.

See you Sunday, if not before.

Tim

Tim’s Tidbits

Jesus has resurrected.  Spring has sprung.  We see new life and changes happening all around us.

One of those changes is coming with a change in pastor leadership for Bethel Wesley.   If you have not already heard, Myra and I have been appointed to serve the Norris City/Shiloh charge in the Cache River District.  We are very excited to be closer to our families, but at the same time saddened to leave you.  We have met and made new friends in Christ. <!–split–>

In the time that we have spent here there have been some changes take place.  There has been the revitalization of the 9:00 a.m. contemporary worship service.  And with the quarterly combined worship services, I feel that there has been some sense of unity.  While there are still some who stand firm in the fact that they do not like the other worship style, many have been amicable and accepted what is taking place.  But still, progress is being made, and there are sure to be future changes as the church proceeds forward.  Often times baby steps are the best steps we can take.

There has also been a sense of pride with the new fence, landscaping and courtyard at the parsonage.  From what it was when we came to what it is now, it was definitely a needed change and has been a morale booster.

We read in scripture many accounts where Jesus changed the lives of everyone who came into contact with him.  And that is why he was rejected so; because of the change he was bringing to the world.  Hopefully and prayerfully he has changed you over the course of the past two years.

This past Sunday was the closing for the spring QC Emmaus men’s walk.  And the testimonies that the pilgrims share concerning their experience is awesome.  New relationships are forged and old relationships are renewed.  Some are even transformed and changed.

But through it all, God is at work to bring about his will for our lives in special ways, and often in unexpected ways.  As Bethel Wesley moves forward under new pastoral leadership, I pray that the work that was begun, and the changes that have taken place in my tenure will help guide you into the future.

See you Sunday if not before.

Tim’s Tidbits

  • Joins us Easter Sunday for our Sunrise Service at 6:30 am.  (West parking lot; please bring a lawn chair.)
  • Easter Breakfast (including pancakes) will follow.
  • One Easter Worship Service in the Sanctuary at 10:00 am.

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of Lent, heading straight for Easter and the resurrection celebration. Praise God that we live as Easter people and not Good Friday people.

As we look at the events leading up to Easter, we find them to be somewhat dismal and depressing. For the week to take such a turn, as it did from Palm Sunday, is almost beyond belief. <!–split–>

The week started out with such joy and jubilation as Jesus entered Jerusalem. There was the waving of palm branches and the shouts of “Hosanna!” as Jesus rode into town on the colt. But while many people were excited to see Jesus, there were some who were trying to find some way, any way, to get him out of the picture.

As Jesus sat in the upper room with the disciples on Thursday, he knew this would be his last meal with them before his death.

Satan was definitely at work this week as he came to Judas Iscariot and convinced him to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was also working on Peter when after promising Jesus to never deny  him, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times in the courtyard following Jesus’ arrest as he left the Garden of Gethsemane.

There were the Roman soldiers, Pilate, the unruly mob, the trumped-up charges; Jesus being mocked and beaten, the questionable trial and conviction, the shouts of “crucify”, the desertion by the disciples, and ultimately death on the cross. But this all took place to fulfill the scriptures. Jesus endured all this for us so that we might have the gift of salvation and eternal life.

The celebration of Palm Sunday comes full circle as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter. Satan may have appeared to win the battle, but he definitely didn’t win the war. With the events of Holy Week, Jesus is victorious over death on Easter as he arose from the grave, and is alive forevermore.

As we continue this Lenten season in anticipation of Easter Sunday, reflect on your relationship with Jesus. Have you ever deserted or denied or even betrayed him? Have there been weak moments when your personal shouts of “Hosanna!”  turned to jeers and sneers, and possibly shouts of “Crucify?”

Also reflect on the relationship you have with the risen Christ through the resurrection. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

See you Sunday, if not before,    Pastor Tim

Tim’s Tidbits

Lent.  What does this word mean to the Christian world?

The season of Lent is a 40-day period preceding Easter (not counting Sundays).  The number 40 has significance because it was the number of years the Israelites wandered in the desert after their departure from Egypt, and it represents the number of days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness following his baptism. <!–split–>

The liturgical color for Lent is purple; a symbol of passion and repentance, as well as royalty.  We are reminded to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of the king of glory, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We read in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus came as the light of the world, but the world resisted his illumination.  We read in John 3:19-20, “Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.”

Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent season and a time of personal reflection with our celebration of Ash Wednesday.  As we move through this Lenten season, let us ponder whether our lives are bringing darkness or light into this world.

See you Sunday if not before.

Pastor Tim

Tim’s Tidbits

The past couple of months have been rather burdensome to many people.  There has been illness, death, feelings of loneliness, extended travel; not to mention the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the post-holiday letdown. <!–split–>

But whatever the burden, remember that you are never alone on your journey.  God is always here, promising to never leave us nor forsake us along the way.  We just have to rely on him, allowing his love and grace to bring peace and joy to our life.

How often do we try to handle life’s situations by ourselves, thinking we need no help from anyone or anything?  Or how often have we kept a burden inside, not sharing with someone?  And this includes shutting out God.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

There is no need to feel weighed down by life’s burdens.  People can be their own worst enemy.  If you are carrying any burden today, give it to God.  Let God be your heavyweight and carry it for you.

When we are weighed down with burdens, in all probability, we are not capable of experiencing God’s love because our focus is inward.  We are feeling sorry for our self.  But by allowing God to control the situation, we are free to live the full, abundant life that Jesus came to give us and that God wants us to live.

There is a song in our hymnal titled “Leave It There.”  The chorus goes like this:

“Leave it there, leave it there, take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.  If you trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out; take you burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

See you Sunday, if not before.

Pastor Tim

Tim’s Tidbits

Myra and I have had numerous conversations over the years stating that it would sure be nice if life would be normal again.  And by that we are thinking about when life was not so hectic and we didn’t have many of the responsibilities that we have today.  But as we have gotten older, and hopefully more mature and wiser, we have come to realize that normal is what is happening now. <!–split–>

I often hear people remark that they are looking for life to return to normal  following the holiday season.  The “Big Day” has come and gone; Christmas has been or will soon be packed away for the next 11 months; life will be less stressful and hectic (we hope); life will return to normal.

For Mary and Joseph their normal has taken a huge hit.  Mary is now the mother of the Son of God.  Joseph, a carpenter, has now taken on the role of Jesus’ father.  Where is their normal?

For anyone who has reared children you know the responsibility.  I have commented it would have been nice if our children came with an instruction manual.  But they don’t and often we learn through OJT (on-the-job training).

As we move forward into 2017, let’s keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts, our homes, our church, our workplace; in everything we say and do.  And always remember the true meaning for not only Christmas, but every season and every day of our life is celebrating and worshiping Jesus Christ.

Let’s not be too busy this year that we don’t live a normal life that includes Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday, if not before.

Pastor Tim