E-Note for Tuesday, November 22

Good Morning, Friends, and welcome to this week’s E-Note! I know I said I wouldn’t have an E-Note today, but the truth is I’m so thankful for God’s blessings that I can’t help but share it with you!

I’m so thankful for my life. And my wonderful wife, Shannon. And my grown sons, Caleb and Jesse. And the Call God has upon my life to preach, teach, and lead. And the church He has me leading right now. And the people and ministries of this church. And the way He sustains me, stirs me, inspires me, and never gives up on me. This is why I say,

Listen to Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart,

Give thanks to the Holy One,

Give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now, let the weak say, “I am strong!”

Let the poor say, “I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us!”

Give thanks. 

Give thanks.

Give thanks.

And so I do.

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With the church offices closed all week, I’ll be out of town. Corey “has the conn” next Sunday. In his advice for Pastors, Rick Warren offers this regarding time away to be restored in energy:

Divert Daily.

Withdraw Weekly.

Abandon Annually. 

 

Divert daily, from the things which drain you and spend time, even just 5 minutes, doing what restores you, each day. I am very intentional about this.

Withdraw Weekly for 24 hours, being hard to reach for this period. I try.

Abandon Annually. I’m not very good at this. But I will be spending the next days in the vast, uninhabited Mississippi Delta, in various trees. The older I get, the less I’m actually hunting and the more I’m praying, contemplating, thinking, all while I’m immersed in God’s Creation during my favorite season of the year. I won’t exactly be off the grid, but it’s pretty close. I can still text and email, though actual phone calls are very iffy because of weak cell reception in the area.

I’ll be out of reach, but not out of touch.

And I’m thankful for that, as well. Y’all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

In Joy,

Tom

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Have a great week, Friends, and don’t forget what David Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and thanksgiving in our prayer.

E-Note for Tuesday, November 15

Good Morning, Friends! I hope this week’s E-Note finds you well. Heads up, we won’t have an E-Note next week.

dollar bills.jpg
“The Sermon on the Amount”
A family had been to church and was sitting in their favorite restaurant after the service. They began making observations about the worship service. The Father said, “Wow, that sermon was just as dry as dust. And they had it way too hot in there! That’s a waste of money!” Mother picked up where Father had left off. “And who told that lady in the fourth row of the choir she was a singer? She screeches! And those choir robes! How long are they going to keep wearing those old, tattered things?”
Their little boy, listening as his parents ranted, spoke up: “Well, Daddy, Mama, I thought it was a pretty good show…for a dollar.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
What’s the proper amount to give? The Old Testament makes it plain that a tithe is God’s expectation for all of his followers. Do you realize that if every one of our church members lived at poverty level, but we all tithed, that would come to over $2.5 Million per year? Goodness!
Truth is, many folks who go to that restaurant after church have no problem giving 10%, or even 15%, to the total stranger who waited on them, but when it comes to GOD, well, they stop at nothing.
But look.
God doesn’t want something FROM you. God wants something FOR you. Something we will never have until we trust Him enough to meet our needs, and we grow from givers into tithers.
 
Shannon and I have always tithed. Even when it made no rational, economic sense to do so. In the 1990’s we were both working, always broke, and Shannon was expecting our first son, Jesse. She came home from work one day and said, “I have prayed about this. I think God wants me to quit my job and stay home to raise children.” I responded, “That’s amazing. I’ve been thinking the same thing.”  Gulp. And so we prayed some more, and we determined that as scary as it was, God would take care of us, as He promises to do. And one day soon, Shannon quit her job and came home. That cut our household income by 61% in one day.
But here’s the amazing part. We never missed a meal. We were never late in paying a bill. We never missed a tithe. True, we ate out less. We raided our parents’ pantries. We ate a lot of venison and fish. We bought new tires one at a time. But because we dared to trust God and follow His Will, He took care of our needs! Because God honors and blesses us in ways we can’t predict UNLESS we trust Him that deeply!
And I have never been on such a thrill ride as tithing when it made no sense economically to do so. Free climbing on 300-foot cliffs? Ha. Skydiving from 14,500 feet? Yawn. 
Nothing compares with the thrill of trusting God with your very existence!
I hope, Dear Friends, that someday you experience the exhilaration of complete trust in God. There’s nothing like it.
Think about that, as you bring your completed 2023 Commitment Card to worship this Sunday.
In Joy,
Tom

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Thanks to all who supported the important mission of the Gideons last Sunday! Thanks also to our Veterans, who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to all who supported our United Methodist Youth fundraiser! Thanks to our Handbell Choir, under the direction of Camille Barkley, for their beautiful music!

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Good News! The Rice and Beans pick-up date has been extended into December! More time to be generous!

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More good news! We are partnering with the local Gideon Camp to make sure that every family which comes to shop at our Christmas Store (December 6 and December 8) will receive a free Bible, in either English or Spanish! That’s around 300 families!

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Remember that the church offices will be CLOSED the week of Thanksgiving (November 21-25). If you need something to go in either the Nov. 20 or November 27 bulletin, get it to Judy in the office by November 16!

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Well, Friends, that’s about it for now. Have a great day, remember there won’t be an E-Note next week, and remember,
Plan A is to trust God. There is not plan B.-Tara Leigh Cobble

E-Note for Tuesday, November 8

Sorry folks, a little technical glitch this week!


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

There’s a bluegrass song which I really like called “The Next Right Thing” 

The chorus, which applies directly to all things Christian, especially stewardship, says,

I’ve tried to pick and choose,

Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose,

But I can’t go wrong doing the next right thing.

Bingo.

This is true of the ongoing task of being thankful and generous. People who are not thankful to God are rarely generous, either. Conversely, people who are generous are almost always thankful for all God has done in their lives.

So what is the Next Right Thing, as far as stewardship goes?

Be faithful. Satan always tries to limit our generosity toward our church by telling us, “Oh, don’t pledge. Times are too uncertain for that!”

No question, times are uncertain. The economy is iffy.  The inflation rate is certainly scary. The future of our congregation is uncertain.

But since when have fears about things of the world been excuses for God’s People to not be faithful toward God? As Paul Harvey once said, “In times like these, it is important to remember that there have always been times like these.”

The Next Right Thing, then, is

>If you “never pledge”, then try it. Even if it’s a small amount. It’ll change your attitude toward giving.

>If you do pledge, but you don’t tithe (more on this in a moment), then figure what percentage of your income you generally give, and increase it. Average for US Protestant Christians is to give around 2%, which is sad. That said,  If you’re at 2%, then see what 3% would look like for you. If you’re at 3% prayerfully consider 4 or 5%. Do this with the goal of “growing a tithe”, 10%, within a few years. 

>If you’re at zero percent, why not grow by making a gift to go toward our great Youth Group? Or Children’s Ministry? In 1962, guitarist Vic Flick was paid $15 for playing the James Bond Theme for Dr. No, the first Bond film. The rest is history.  Small amounts of money can make a lot of difference!

>If you do truly tithe, then make an offering above that.

That’s the Next Right Thing. Some General Thoughts:

Tithe vs. Offering: A Tithe means we are living into God’s expectation of His followers, giving 10% of our income to our house of worship.

Pre-tax or post-tax? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter to God.

An Offering means we are giving extra, above and beyond our Tithe. See, by definition, we DO NOT make an “offering” until our tithe has been completed. Until then, we’re just working on our tithe. To make an Offering-a love offering, an offering of thanks, or peace, etc.-we do that with money that’s above and beyond the money which automatically belongs to God. 

Why does God instruct us to tithe? Not because He’s short of cash. Simply, God understands that it’s that last 10% of our income that we use to ruin our lives, with busy-ness, indulgence, addictions, etc. So when we give that portion (back)  to God, we are choosing the right priorities in life. The priorities which God honors and blesses.

What if I pledge and then I can’t live up to it? Life Happens. God understands that. Let not your heart be troubled.

What if I pledge to Tithe and I can’t complete it?           I’ll pay it.    Seriously. If you figure up a TRUE tithe on your income, and then you honestly can’t live up to it, bring your bills to me and   I’ll pay them for you. I’m that confident that God will bless you in ways you can’t even fathom, once you start tithing. I’ve made that offer each year for the last 20 years or so, and I’ve never had anyone who truly tithed not be able to complete their pledge! God gives us His Word on this. He DARES us to test Him in this way: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, and see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down an overflowing blessing.”( Micah 3:8)

Tithing is good for marriage. Dr. Charles Stanley,  in pastoring First Baptist Church of Atlanta, did the math in his own enormous congregation: In marriages where husband and wife are truly tithing, the divorce rate drops to 1 in 1,100. Read that again. I’ll wait. See, Tithing and Marriage both require agape (self-sacrificing) love. Growing in agape love as generous married givers also means we are growing in agape love as husbands and wives, meaning that tithing couples have great marriages!

If you need a 2023 Commitment Card, let me or the office know. If you know someone who’d appreciate a Commitment Card, let us know. We will receive all the Commitment Cards on Sunday, November 20.

 

It all comes down to, are we giving God what is right, or what is left? 

Mature Christians, we can’t go wrong doing the Next Right Thing. 

In Joy,

Tom


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Thanks Are Due…

Joe and Jenny Davis arrive early each week to set up our altar, banners, Communion elements, etc. for our 9:00 Embrace Service in the Gym. They do a great job!

Thanks to Dr. Greg Medlin for assisting with the service of the Holy Communion elements last Sunday. You handled it like a pro!

Thanks to our Bell Ringers, Denise Brown and Jennifer Beam (9:00) and Denise, Jennifer, Lou Ann Staggs and Martha Frances Monroe (11:00). Y’all really made our All Saints Sunday Services special!

What a blessing to experience  Brenna Long’s reading of our Old Testament Scripture! Love seeing these young people serving God and the congregation!

Thanks to all who made our Open House such a success! There are so many who helped out that I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out! And thanks to all of you who came to visit us in this beautiful Parsonage!

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Paul, Philippians 1:3)


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Wednesday’s Adult Bible Study will focus on Red Sea Rule #3: Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your focus on God! Join us at 6:00 in the Gym for an in depth Bible study which always includes plenty of laughs!


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November 13th

Men’s Breakfast at 8:30 (Note the time change)

Sunday School at 9:30

ONE WORSHIP SERVICE at 10:30 in the Sanctuary!

We will have a 7-minute presentation from the Gideons. Please be prayerfully generous.

Our Handbell Choir will present an offering of music!

Youth Fundraiser Meal after worship!

What a glorious time of worship it will be!


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Please remember that the church offices will be CLOSED the week of Thanksgiving, November 21-25.


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Beginning January 1st, The Mississippi Conference will be served by a new Bishop, Bishop Sharma Lewis! Bishop James Swanson is retiring, and we welcome Bishop Lewis to Mississippi. She currently serves as Bishop of the Richmond (VA) Episcopal Area. Her resume is strong. I have met and visited with Bishop Lewis and can personally attest to her skills in preaching, teaching, and visionary leadership. Welcome, Bishop Lewis!

And to Bishop Swanson, and Mrs. Delphine, happy trails, good and faithful servants. Enjoy those grandchildren and great grandchildren!

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Ok, Friends, that’s a wrap for this week’s E-Note. Have a great day, and remember,

“If you don’t give, you just don’t get it.”-Desmond Child

E-Note for Tuesday, November 1

Good Day, dear ones, and welcome to the first E-Note of November!

In the Summer of ’83 I worked as part of a seining crew on a large catfish operation. Like most things that are aquaculture-related, it’s much more complicated than it looks like it would be! Before we ever got to “get wet”, before the seine was ever put in the water, we’d spend hours in the July heat, unrolling the mesh on the ground, inspecting it for tears. The mesh was 1 7/8 inches. That would catch nearly every catfish in a pond, which was the point: Leave no fish behind! When we found a tear, we repaired it using a certain type of line and special knots.

All this for fish which sold (at the time) for around $1.75 per pound.

This is exactly what James and John, sons of Zebedee, were doing when Jesus called them to follow him as his Disciples. Peter and Andrew, farther up the beach, had been casting their net when Jesus called them. The account takes place on the (inland) Sea of Galilee, in Matthew 4:18-22, (NRSV):

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

On numerous other occasions, fishing with a net comes into play in the Gospels. It’s Jesus’ favorite image for sharing the good news. As a matter of fact, in John 21 the resurrected Jesus directs His disciples where to cast their net, and that one cast yielded a haul of 153 large fish!

Something I discovered on my first day on a seining crew was that you catch more than just catfish in a commercial catfish pond.

Yes, you catch catfish, to the tune of about 7,000 fish per acre of pond. That’s good.

You also catch bream and shad. They get into the pond  when large shore birds step in fish eggs in some body of water, fly to the fish pond, and unintentionally stock the pond with unwanted species of fish when they land and begin wading.

Turtles. You catch a lot of turtles, including giant alligator snapping turtles.

And snakes. Every snake that’s got a diameter larger than 1 7/8 inches gets caught, including venomous cottonmouths.

And yet, the image Jesus uses for calling people to follow him is fishing. With a net, specifically.

Jesus doesn’t intend, see, for us to discriminate between who’s “desirable” and who’s not.  A net, Jesus’ preferred method of fishing, can’t tell the difference between a catfish and a dogfish.

What does that say about the way WE share the good news of Jesus Christ?

What does that say about who WE invite to join us at church?

Assuming, of course, we DO share the good news and invite folks. If we want to be a part of God’s Operation, we are required to work on the seining crew!

Let’s inspect our methods. Leave no fish behind!

Then, let’s get wet. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2).

Will you show up to work this week? Share, and invite.

In Joy,

Tom


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Wow! A huge thanks to all who made our Fall Festival such a huge success, especially the Nurture and Outreach Committees!

 

Our Sober October was a great event as well, and well-attended!


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Adult Bible Study will resume Wednesday at 6:oo in the Gym as we look at Red Sea Rule #2: “Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.”  All you really need is a study book, which will be provided to you for FREE at the study, so Join Us!


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https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?pli=1#inbox/FMfcgzGqRGVKsHtRWBbmNNsmwmrnBsGX

 

This is a huge development. In the Mississippi Conference the deadline for disaffiliation has been extended for two years.


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In consultation with our church leaders, we have decided that there will be no more “campaigning” within the walls of the First United Methodist Church. I applaud their decision.


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Please remain in prayer for Rev. Corey Truitt, our Associate Pastor, who is recovering from surgery.


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Next Sunday, November 6th, we will celebrate All Saints’ Sunday with a special handbell ringing ritual and Holy Communion. This will be observed in both the Embrace and Traditions services.

In addition, Sunday will begin our Stewardship Emphasis Season. Remember as you receive your 2023 Commitment Card, God doesn’t want something FROM you, God wants something FOR you!


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Open House at the Parsonage will be Sunday, November 6, from 1:00 to 4:00. All are invited to join us! However, due to the lack of parking at the Parsonage, WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to sign up to ride a church van to and from. Glendale Road is dangerous, with no shoulder parking at all. The van will leave from the church parking lot at 12:50, 1:50, and 2:50. Please sign up on the pads outside the Sanctuary, or go to our website (www.fumcnewalbany.com) and sign up there. Shannon and I look forward to hosting y’all!


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Well, Friends, that’s a wrap for this week’s E-Note. Have a great day, and remember,

Actuaries believe that the first person who will live to be 150 years old has already been born.

Yowza.

Fall Festival 2022 Photos

E-Note for Tuesday, October 25th

E-Note for Tuesday, October 18

Good Morning, Friends! I hope you are all well today!

Somewhere in my reading, I came across this quote:

Death is always following us; sometimes it flips on its headlights.’

That happened to me one hot July afternoon. I was a teenager, working on a cattle/hay/catfish farm. I was driving an old McCormick 806 tractor. No cab or fenders. Without warning, the bank I was on collapsed, and my tractor rolled over into a catfish pond. If something like this has happened to you, you’ll understand when I say IT HAPPENED SO FAST! The torque of a flipping tractor is incredible. By divine intervention, I was able to leap off the tractor, over that giant spinning rear wheel, and into the water, JUST FAR ENOUGH to not be killed.

The hairs on my neck are literally standing up as I write this, 40 years after the fact.

Life is dangerous. Death is always following us. Sometimes it flips on the headlights.

Consider this, though. For the Christian, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us.

It’s not even in the Top Ten.

There are numerous worse-than-death scenarios out there for any of us humans.

But for those who know Christ, see, death isn’t the enemy. Death is the release. As an illustration, Dr. Fred Craddock shares a great story about death.

 

A professor colleague of his, in the prime of her young unmarried life, was at home in her apartment when there was a knock at the door. Death was there, in a black robe and yellow skin. He said, “Malignant.” She called the doctor, had surgery, and was back to work several months later.

She was home again one night when she heard another knock at the door. She opened the door and there was Death. He said, “Chemotherapy.” Oh, she got so sick. Her hair fell out. But after some months, she was back teaching again. Her friends all celebrated with her.

A year later, there was a knock on her door. She opened it and there he was again, Death. All her friends rallied around her, barring the door and saying, “We are not going to let him in! Don’t worry! He won’t get past us!”

To which she replied, “It’s okay. Get away from the door.”

She opened the door, and Death came right in. They almost felt sorry for him, because he likes to come in all scary with fiery darts.

This time, however, Death came in with two words in his hands: Rest in one hand, and Peace in the other.

He looked like a servant of God.

 

Remember four things, friends.

  1. Death is always following us.
  2. Those who have almost died have a different outlook on life.
  3. For the Christian, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us.
  4. That’s a gift from Jesus which changes how we look at death.

 

We will be talking about death, and our preparation for it, during our services next Sunday. I hope you’ll join us.

In Joy,

Tom


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I appreciate all who joined us for our Informational Meeting about Disaffiliation last night. There’s nothing like The Facts to help us find God’s Will.


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Join us Wednesday at 6:00 in the Gym for our NEW Adult Bible Study series, using a FREE book called “The Red Sea Rules”! It’s a great study with tons of applications into our complicated, stressful lives!


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Our Missions Committee has a special event planned for our community (and our community of faith) called Sober October, to provide education, resources, and hope for the disease of addiction. All are encouraged to attend, 6:00 Sunday, October 30, in our FUMC Fellowship Hall.


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Well, Friends, that’s a wrap for this week’s E-Note. Have a great day, stay upright, and remember,

“Are you living for eternity, or living for the weekend?”

Informational Meeting Monday Night

Hello, members and friends of FUMC,

I’ve heard some folks say they’re not in­terested in attending our Information Meeting about Disaff­iliation Monday Night (6:30) because they think it’ll be a debate/sho­uting match.

It won’t be. Here are two reasons why.

First, because for two mon­ths the Administrati­ve Council, at my re­quest, has bathed this gath­ering in prayer, specifically so it won’t become ugly. Forget the about the new roof from several yea­rs ago.

Second, because this is NOT a meeting for theolo­gical debate over Di­saffiliation. It’s to learn the Process for Disaffiliation.​

In the immortal words of Sgt. Joe Friday­,​ “Just the facts, Ma’­am.”

WHEN (if) a vote is taken on Disaffiliation (in Fe­bruary), it won’t be decided by the Ad Council. Or the Staff. Or the Pastors. The responsibility lies with the church members.
Monday’s gathering is a one-time opportu­nity to educate ourselves with the Facts of the process. That’s it.

Responsibility is a blend of two wo­rds, “Response”, and Ability”. It’s not something thrust on us, it’s something we take for ourselves.
How many of us have the ABILITY to be there Monday night to learn about this important proc­ess? I’d say there’s a high percentage of us who have the AB­ILITY.​
The question, then, is What will be our RESPONSE?​

I hope the Sanctuary is filled with members who ha­ve responded to their ability to come and be fully informed as we discern God’s Will for our great church!

As our founder, John Wesley, was fond of saying in difficult times, “Best of all, God is with us!”​

God is with us. I ho­pe you’ll be with us, too, Monday at 6:3­0, in the Sanctuary.
In Joy,
Tom