The Somewhere Free Methodist Church gathers about 30–45 people, mostly white, on Sunday morning in an older neighborhood full of neighbors very different from most church members. The church has a committed pastor whose spouse earns enough to supplement his church salary and allow him to serve full time. Visitors occasionally show up and sometimes stay, at least for a while. Everyone in the church knows each other well, enough to avoid conflict and agree to maintain peace, as a witness to anyone who might be watching.
At Christmastime, the church takes up a special offering for the needy and still hosts a children’s program with member grandchildren supplemented by a few kids from the community. Years ago, the church received an estate gift that continues to subsidize church giving. The church will keep running as it is for the foreseeable future.
But I wonder what would happen if Somewhere Church experienced revival? What if God would draw near and visit clearly and powerfully as seldom or never before in any of its members’ experiences?
Why did I care so much about my kids and their driving habits when they first got their licenses? Well. . . simple answer is that I remember many of the risks I took when I was first out on the road by myself (sorry Mom and Dad!). Inexperience, adolescent impulsivity, smartphones, and that “nothing bad will never happen to me” sense of invulnerability all combine to make teen driving a dangerous enterprise. Knowing and addressing these realities can go a long way towards equipping your kids to be safer as they take their place behind the wheel. I’ve always said that for the Christian kid, driving needs to be seen and understood as an act of worship. So, in an effort to help you understand the risks of teen driving, we are passing on this infographic from Safe and Healthy Life. (You can access the infographic on their site here.)
by David Carr
During a meeting of several Free Methodist pastors in the United Kingdom, John Townley brought a prophetic word: “Open up old wells. Do not delay; time is short. I will help you, and I will uphold you.”
“Open up old wells” infers that the wells are presently closed. “Do not delay; time is short” infers the time is now.
“I will help you, and I will uphold you.” God will support us, and He has the strategy. Isaac dug again the wells of his father Abraham (Genesis 26:12–22). Faith and truth remain the same regardless of time and circumstance.
The benefits of a new well should be obvious to all, yet there are many who do not wish to drink from wells established by anointed people. As Isaac reopened his father’s old wells and fresh living water again started to flow, quarrels erupted, and strife and conflict were stirred up. Isaac tried twice to maintain the opening process, yet the conflict and lack of understanding necessitated a new strategy. So he moved away to Rehoboth (which means “room”) and found that the well there was appreciated, and there was room to be fruitful in the land.
A new beginning usually signals a committed or forced ending. They are inseparably related. Being born again implies a death first. Transformation implies a diminishing or dying that gives birth to newness or life — a metamorphosis. It is no surprise that in many of the epistles, the Apostle Paul mentions dying about as much as living (Romans 6:1–11; Colossians 3:3–10). He understood that you cannot really have one without the other.
That inferential linking of “death first before living” is too often forgotten. The sequence is clear in the mind and words of Jesus. We lose ourselves before we are found. We deny ourselves and take up our cross before we follow Jesus in a liberating way. We humble ourselves first before we are exalted. We become poor in spirit before we become rich in God and inherit His kingdom. We start last to end up first. This is not only the process of Jesus thinking and speaking, but is the model of His life: He died and rose. The rising didn’t come without the dying.
Three Psalms begin with “Sing to the Lord a new song” (96, 98, and 149). A new song! How exciting is that?
We are capable of seeing that which is around us, delving into that which is within us, and proclaiming the great works of God in our lives. He gave us voices to speak into the world and hands to do His work. We are creative beings serving the great Creator.
To speak of God as the Creator evokes Genesis in our minds. We go to “In the beginning” and “God saw that it was good” as our Creator verses. Here is one that we don’t often think of: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
They’ve just crowned 2016’s most significant term. Sadly, it has a definition, but not much meaning.
When Truth Ends
Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2016 is “post-truth” and the linguists from across the pond define it as “the circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” (which sounds a lot like Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness”).
Take just a moment to re-read that definition and contemplate its implications. In essence, a post-truth world puts more credence on “feelings” than “facts.”
Oxford’s experts chose “post-truth” as their WOTY, not because it’s a new term, but because the frequency of its use increased by 2,000% from 2015 to 2016 (with all the talk about international events such as the American presidential election and Brexit). But let’s push American politics and European problems aside. Is the lure of a “post-truth” world really that appealing to young people?
by JEN FINLEY
My 8-year-old son loves to give gifts. He’ll often run to his room and return a few minutes later with a container full of some of his favorite things. He hides it behind his back and says, “I have a present for you! Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”
As I follow his instructions, he carefully places the container in my hands, and he watches with anticipation while I open the gift to reveal the special treasure he has created just for me. His gift may be a picture he’s drawn or a treasured trinket he wants to share. It may be a small Lego structure he’s built, or it could be something he repurposed from the trash bin. Each gift brings me joy, not because of what the container holds, but because of the care he used in creating it.
by STEVE FITCH
Free Methodists have long known the importance of taking action when it comes time to care for the poor. We have historically thrived in embracing pragmatic steps to aid the poor and oppressed.
The Holy Spirit is on the move within the Free Methodist Church as new kingdom opportunities present themselves. One opportunity the Spirit is bringing to our attention in these challenging times relates to creation care. Yes, environmental messaging is often negative and guilt-prone. Yes, the subject of climate change has contributed to the political divide plaguing our nation. However, negativity doesn’t have to define our responses as Christ-followers. After all, we are “born again” — not “born against.” So, if you’re ready for a simple way to proactively practice caring for the poor and creation in one simple package, then I’ve got good “born again” news for you. The action steps listed below offer real-world dividends in a manner consistent with our biblically oriented value systems.
It’s Christmastime and it’s time to celebrate! But for many parents, just the thought of the season makes them want to scream “Bah hum-bug!” Why? It’s because the holidays can be hectic, heartbreaking, harrowing, and just plain hard to deal with. In short, the holidays can be a hassle! Even though we’re celebrating the birth of our Savior and our gratefulness to God for His many blessings, the thought of Christmas shopping, school and church “holiday pageants,” and the various Christmas festivities can cause us a lot of stress!
But here’s the good news — there is a remedy for getting beyond the “Bah hum-bug!” By reducing your family’s stress levels, you can make the most of your family’s Christmas this year! I call this remedy the “Four R’s” and I hope you’ll find them helpful!