E-Note for Tuesday, July 26

Hello, Friends! I hope this E-Note finds you well, and somewhere cool!

Now and then, we all get this call. The Past is trying to contact us, to catch up with us.

That’s not always a bad thing. For instance, I enjoyed visiting with my fellow grads of the Class of ’82 last weekend.

But think of it this way: God has observed-and judged-every second of your past. Is that good news, or bad news?

I’d say it’s both, actually. It’s bad in that each of us has plenty of sins which ought to disqualify us for the perfection of Heaven. One is all it takes.

And yet it’s good news. Because of Jesus, our Past doesn’t define our future. Nearly 600 years ahead of the curve, the Old testament prophet Jeremiah saw the future of God’s Son coming to the earth. The purpose of the arrival, life, and death of Jesus? To take away the power the Past has over us!

“…for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34, NRSV)

Because of the work of Jesus, The Past no longer has any power to disqualify us from Heaven.  

At my class reunion, my former football teammates and I reminisced, and a line from an old Jackson Browne song came to mind: “You forget about the losses, and you exaggerate the wins.”

Indeed. But none of those old glory days stories amount to much now, 40 years later.

In the same way, the only way to have a future in an eternity we’re going to enjoy is to rely on the Grace purchased for us by Jesus, which removes the penalty for all our sins.

Don’t get me wrong. The Past has a rightful place in our lives. Enjoy those memories. Just remember, there’s a reason the windshield of our car is at least 25 times bigger than our rear-view mirror!

Confess. Let God forgive your sin. Let God practice His “selective memory” and remember your sin no more.

You might just find it a relief to decline that call when The Past is calling.

In Joy,



Welcome to our newest members of FUMC, Phil, Prentis, Caroline and Meg Boatright, and Shannon Potter! All joined last Sunday by transfer of membership.

Churches are supposed to grow. Who do YOU know who would like to be invited to experience FUMC?


Next Sunday, July 31, we will celebrate (at both services) the Blessing of the Backpacks, Promotion Sunday for Sunday School, Presentation of Bibles to our rising 3rd graders, and have a special prayer for our Teachers, Administrators, Staff and Coaches! Don’t miss it, and kids, remember to bring your Backpack to church!


Well, Friends, that’s about it for today. Have a great day, stay healthy, and remember,

“God forgets the Past; we should imitate Him.”

E-Note for Tuesday, July 19

Good Morning, Friends! I awoke to a beautiful rain this morning!

“…may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” (Ruth 2:12, NRSV)

Or, if you prefer,

“Children of the heavenly Father

safely in His bosom gather;

nestling bird nor star in heaven 

such a refuge e’er was given.” (Children of the Heavenly Father, UM Hymnal #141, Caroline V. Sandell-Berg

For the past several weeks the office staff and I have been enchanted by the bird nest outside my door. Those helpless baby birds need care and feeding 24/7. The mother bird guards the nest and feeds them worms and bugs. The babies are a little bigger each time I see them!

It’s easy to underestimate God’s providence and protection. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that it is we who feed ourselves, we who protect ourselves, and we who call the shots in our lives.

But the truth remains that it is God who provides us the things which we need-food, clothing, and shelter.

When God provided manna for the Hebrews in Exodus 16, the people were confused as to what it was. Moses explained, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.'” (Exodus 16:15-16, NRSV)


See what God did there?


Each morning, the Israelites started the day on their knees, bowing to pick up the manna, reminded daily that it is the Lord God who provides!


Right now, those baby birds are completely dependent on their mother to feed them. But not for long.

They will fledge soon, to live and feed and procreate on their own.


And the nest? What happens to the nest?


Well, this is actually the second clutch of eggs which has hatched in that nest since I’ve moved into the office. I wonder if there will be a third…

The nest itself reminds me of our church: a place where Christians are born, raised on the Gospel of love, and sent to fly into the community and world.

The many families we are blessed to see in our church? They’re not the first. They won’t be the last either, hopefully.


The Greek philosopher Heraclitus nailed it when he stated that we cannot step into the same river twice. In the same way, we don’t step into the same FUMC twice. Things change. People come and go. Sound equipment dies. (More on that later.)


But the love, protection, and Providence of our God is a constant, ongoing promise.

How completely do we rely on Him to provide?

In Joy,



Thanks to…

Adam. He’s the reason the lights are on, the AC is set, and the chairs are in place.

The Band. Y’all were excellent last Sunday.

Joe Davis for spreading the word about our Christmas Store during our Embrace Service.

Amy Whiteside, Anita Alef, and ALL who made the “Meet and Greet” such a rousing, delicious success!

Our Ladies on the Keys, Martha Frances Monroe and Tana Ranager.

Matt Tyer, who was exceptional, as usual.

Kelly Coltharp, for sharing with us the good news of the Christmas Store with our Traditional Service.

Our Acolytes.

ALL who sign in the pew pads and re-introduce yourselves to Corey and Me!


Want to help? 

We are assembling a list of folks to serve on a rotation for reading the Scripture during both services. Interested? Let me know at tom@fumcnewalbany.com.


In addition, we’re bringing in David Dillard as a consultant and trainer for a rotation of sound and video helpers. Stay tuned.


We’ll have an FUMC Staff Meeting today (Tuesday) at 1:00 in the United Methodist Women room.


Speaking of that room, Ladies’ Bible Study will gather at 10:00 Thursday for prayer, music, and the Word. Join us!


We will wrap up our “Real Face of Grace” series next Sunday, July 24th as we look at Preventive Grace. That’s the Grace that tells us that NO ONE is too far gone for Jesus to save them!


July 31st we will have a special day for the students, teachers, coaches, and administrators, with a Blessing of the Backpacks, Sunday School Promotion, Presentation of Bibles, and a special congregational prayer for a wonderful school year!


“This Difficult Season” is a 40-day devotional book I wrote for “folks who are in a season they’d rather not be in”. The book has proven helpful for those in grief, those taking treatments, caregivers, shut-ins, hospital patients, etc. Our first shipment will be back from the printer soon and copies will be available (for free) in the Church Office.


Remember the Back to School Kickoff on Wednesday, August 10!

Regular Wednesday Night Activities will resume on August 17!


I’m attending my 40th Class Reunion on Friday. Holy Smokes.


That’s about it for now, friends. Have a great day, and remember,


The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

E-Note for Tuesday, July 12

Good Morning, Friends, and welcome to this week’s E-Note!

Our first impressions can fail us. 

Several years ago, I went skydiving with my son Jesse. As we awaited our turn to suit up in the hangar, the guides came in. BTW, they don’t let you just pay your money and solo jump anymore. These days, you’re strapped in tandem to the front of a guide who actually pulls the ripcord. It has to do with insurance.

Anyway, a collection of kids came in. They were our guides, but they could have passed for this season’s counselors at Camp Lake Stephens. I mean, they looked YOUNG! As a guy in his fifties, I was not inspired with confidence in them, no matter how much swagger they had. And they did have some swag!

Then, in came this older guy. About my age. About my height and weight. Gray headed, like me. “This guy,” I said to myself, “has been there and done that.” I chose the old guy as my guide without thinking twice.

Turned out he was a retired Navy SEAL. So much the better.

So we suited up, boarded the plane with 10 other jumpers, and the pilot took us in a corkscrew pattern up to 14,500 feet. My turn came, and my guide and I hit the silk. It’s truly exhilarating, freefalling at 117 MPH. And I never felt closer to God, or more within His care, than I did for that 60 seconds.

Then our chute popped open and we began our glide. Now, my guide and I were able to talk to each other. Oh, those movies where skydivers are talking to each other during freefall? That’s fake. It’s impossible to speak or yell with a 117 MPH wind in your face!

So I said to my guide, “I’m sure glad I chose you, a guide with so much experience.” His response shocked me:

“Yeah, well actually, I don’t have much experience. I just joined this company. This is only my 77th jump. Some of those young guides with us, they’ve got a thousand, fifteen hundred, even two thousand jumps behind them.”

I guess it’s true. You can’t judge a book by its cover!

It’s the same with Jesus. Jesus lived over 2,000 years ago. Like most men in His time, He was undoubtedly thin. And He wouldn’t have walked around with a lot of swag, either, since He had a fully developed sense of humility.

But if you’re going to experience the adrenaline rush of the REAL life of discipleship, there’s nobody better to be strapped in tandem to!

There’s a great line from the old show, “Mama’s Family”. Vinton says to Thelma, “Now, Mama, you don’t need to go to church to get into heaven.” Mama responds, “Well, you don’t need to have a parachute to jump out of an airplane, either, but it certainly helps!” 

Indeed, Mama.

We are all in free fall in this life. But not all of us are strapped to the guide with the parachute.


In Joy,




Tuesday at 2:00, we will begin our weekly FUMC Staff Meetings. It’ll be an important time for communication and Christian development of our staff members. Staff folks, if you can POSSIBLY make it, we need you!


We extend our sympathy to the family of Mr. Stanley Dillon. Arrangements are incomplete at this time.


What a beautiful rendition of “It Is Well” we heard at Embrace on Sunday! Thanks, Charlaine Chung, for your lead vocal!

And how about that duet from Matt Tyer and Shawn Sanks? Outstanding!


Our Mississippi Annual Conference gathers this week from Wednesday until Friday at the Bancorpsouth Center in Tupelo. You’re welcome to join us as a guest in person, or by streaming from our Conference website, WWW.Mississippi-UMC.org. Please extend prayer for this important gathering. There are big doin’s these days.


Speaking of technology, a big thanks to Tanya Benefield, who has pretty much single handedly overhauled our FUMC website and Facebook Page. There’s a LOT to acquaint yourself with, so check out WWW.fumcnewalbany.com, and our Facebook Page(s), FUMC New Albany!

e-Mail tanya@fumcnewalbany.com

Facebook Tanya Benefield | Facebook

Twitter: @BenefieldTanya

Instagram: TanyaBene73

Find FUMC on Facebook – click on the links below

FUMC Facebook Page: First United Methodist Church of New Albany | Facebook

FUMC Facebook Group Page: FUMC New Albany | Facebook


We need YOU to help with our tech needs during the 11:00 Traditional worship service! Our plan is to bring in a consultant to teach us/lead us so that we can set up a rotation of teams to handle the tech stuff. Many hands make light the work, right? So if you’re interested in helping, text Matt Tyer at 662.538.8093!

We also want to begin using laity to read Scripture during the Traditional service. If this is something you’d be willing to rotate into, again, email me at tom@fumcnewalbany.com. We will give you all the training you need to make it a worshipful act!


Hey, Thanks to our Men’s Breakfast group, which was wonderful. Sorry I had to leave early to prepare for our Embrace worship service, which was equally wonderful! Great job to all who set up, cooked, played, sang, took down, and attended!



We will have a brief presentation next Sunday, July 17, from our Christmas in July ministry, at both services.

Ladies’ Bible Study will gather on Thursday, July 21, at 10:00 in the UMW room. I’ll be leading with music, prayer, and the Word from Mark. All ladies are invited!

>Trustees Committee will meet on Monday, July 18 at 5:30.

Finance Committee will meet on Monday, July 25, at 6:00. Ad Council meeting will follow at 7:00.

>July 31, we will hold our Blessing of the Backpacks service at both 9:00 and 11:00. We’ll also present Bibles to children and promote our kids to their new Sunday School classes! Kids, be sure to bring your backpack for a blessing and a fun little gift from FUMC!

In addition, we will send our teachers, coaches, administrators, and staff into the school year with a special prayer.


I just finished watching the latest season of a TV series called “Alone”, where they drop 10 willing participants into a wilderness survival experience in Canada in late Fall. Then it struck me: Hey, History Channel-REALLY impress me and drop these folks in the Mississippi Delta for June, July and August, and let’s see how well they can live off the land! I’ll bet no one would last more than a week without “tapping out”!


Well, friends, that’s about it for now. Have a great day, and remember,


“If your life as a disciple is not an adrenaline rush, you’re not doing it the way Jesus did it.”

E-Note for Wednesday, July 6

Good Morning, Friends, and welcome to this week’s E-Note! 

I hope your Fourth was a wonderful day.


The other day I was in the Pastor’s Study, moving books onto bookshelves. Now, I had noticed that the second shelf was tilted a little toward the left front. I ignored that, however.

After putting 10 or 12 books on the shelf, all was OK. The next book to go on the shelf, however, was my NIV Study Bible. I put it in place and turned my back for the next book.




You can’t make this stuff up, folks. The Holy Bible caused all the other books to come tumbling down!


“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jesus, John 8:31-32, NRSV)


Notice this, friends. I was on a fool’s errand, piling books on a shelf I knew couldn’t sustain the weight. Then the Bible caused the avalanche which then allowed me to FIX what was wrong (the front left pin was missing under the shelf) so things could work out.


John Lennon sang, “Gimme some Truth.”

Colonel Nathan Jessep shouted, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Jesus says, “Stay in my Word and you’ll know the truth, and be set free by it.”


And He should know. Because even from an early age, God’s Word (only the Old Testament, at that point in history) was on Jesus’ reading list! Familiarity with God’s Scripture allowed Jesus the ability to see problems and come up with solutions.  And, Lo and Behold, Jesus found himself able to stand up to political pressure, temptation, and even satan himself.

Gee, I wonder if the two are related…


How familiar are you with God’s Word? Is there a problem you’re currently ignoring?

The answer, even if it involves some work, is in God’s Word.

In Joy,


Great Job, all of you who worked to make Camp Sonshine a success! What a wonderful community outreach to children who clearly appreciated it!


Thanks, Tana Ranager, for helping out with the sermon last Sunday!


Thank you for the flower arrangement in our honor, Buzzy Clayton Sunday School Class. Just gorgeous!


And Thanks also to all of you who registered your attendance in the pew pads on Sunday. It’ll be a big help to Corey and Me, and it’s also an important way to welcome guests to our church!


Thanks are also due to all of you who have made the Potters’ arrival in New Albany such a great experience. Thanks for your gifts of time, friendship, and generosity.


Please remain in prayer for our United Methodist Youth (and Thomas, and their adult counselors) as they participate in M28, a powerful event in our own Lake Junaluska Assembly, North Carolina. New Associate Pastor to Youth and Families Rev. Corey Truett and I saw them off early Sunday morning. It made us wish we could go back to Lake J, too! Our group will return home on Thursday.


We look forward to hearing reports during worship from our Mission Team to Costa Rica soon!


As we at FUMC re-evaluate our presence on social media (particularly our http://www.fumcnewalbany.com webpage and Facebook pages), please be patient. We’ll get there.


Our Embrace service will return next Sunday at 9:00 in the gym. I can’t wait to worship with y’all!


Men’s Breakfast meets next Sunday, July 10, at 8:00. Guys, join us for this disciple-making opportunity!


Next Sunday we’ll continue our sermon series “The Real Face of Grace” by looking at Justifying Grace (Romans 4:1-12, Matthew 8:5-13). Spoiler alert: Justifying Grace makes it “Just as IF I’D never sinned before! Be sure to be in God’s house, physically or digitally.


Upcoming Attractions

>FUMC Staff Meeting, Tuesday, July 12, 2:00. We need every staff person, full time and part time, who can possibly make it!

>Mississippi Annual Conference meets in person (!) and by live streaming, July 13-15. To stream, go to www.mississippi-umc.org. or the Mississippi Conference Facebook page.

>Christmas in July will make a brief presentation of their work in both worship services on Sunday, July 17. We will also receive a special offering for their important ministry to our community. Please plan to be prayerfully generous.

>Back-to-School Kickoff will be Wednesday, August 10, from 6:00-7:30 pm. Stay Tuned.

>Wednesday Night activities will resume on August 17th. My Pastor-Led Bible Study will be entitled “Ten from Gen:10 Great Stories from the Book of Genesis”.


Well, Campers, that’s about it for the moment. Have a great day, stay hydrated, and remember,


With Truth comes Freedom, but with Freedom comes Responsibility.