May 18: Doing studies around 2007 as we studied the book below by Brenda Brasher we knew a new form of being and doing church was emerging. But we never imagined just how many opportunities would emerge here and now in 2020. May you become an online evangelist of the good news in these days.


In Christ,


Pastor Ricky


May 16: A reminder that our Faithbridge UMC Food Pantry remains open to serve our community each Wednesday  from 9am to 4 pm.

And know we are planning our “soft and safe reopen” for Sunday worship service at 11:00 am on Sunday June 7. We hope to see you safely at that time. Meanwhile,  look for our worship service messages from each week posted on line at  our Facebook page on and our website. Explore more about our global missions at umc.org …

May 15: Join us this weekend for our video message on Acts 17:

“Tuning in Beats Changing Channels”

May 14:More Helpful COVID MH Resources to align with Scripture

Mental Health Resources (002)

May 13:Helpful Mental Health Resources to align with Scripture

Healthy-Habits-Reward-Card-Download (002)

May 12: Helpful Mental Health Resources to align with Scripture

Parent-Kid-Physical-Activity-Download_

May 11: In changing times Donna and I have been working to find a new normal rhythm of being faithful in giving. Since we are not physically observing God’s tithes and our offerings within our normal worship gatherings we have done this in several ways. One option we did was giving through our online link here on the website. A second option we did was mailing in a hard copy check. A third way we might consider is setting up a direct deposit through contacting the church office or reaching out to a member of the Finance Committee. As we find new ways to exercise our faith and respond to God in giving we are thankful, knowing we are not alone.  Funding God’s ministries is essential work, both when we  connect online and when we physically gather for worship services. Ministry funding is essential at Faithbridge and we are grateful for your giving what you can to be part of God’s work on earth as in heaven….

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.          Malachi 3:10-12

Remembering God’s faithfulness just for today,

Pastor Ricky

May 10: OUR SUNDAY MESSAGE VIDEO IS AVAILABLE ON FACEBOOK HERE:

Momma and Jesus knows I Have A Suit.

Momma and Jesus knows. I Have A Suit!

Faithbridge UMC Message on Mother's Day Weekend May 2020 Ps. 31: 1-5

Posted by Faithbridge United Methodist Congregation on Saturday, May 9, 2020

May 9:

Henry Drummond was  an eighteenth century  Scottish evangelist, writer and speaker. On a devotional calendar I noticed his quote:

“you will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”

On this Mothers Day weekend I cannot help but wonder if Drummond  was inspired by thoughts of his mother when this thought was first penned.

I leave you with this today. Read Proverbs 31 and be grateful for your mother and all who play the role of mother in your life. Most of all tell them you  love them and are grateful for them this weekend.

Connected in Christ,

Pastor Ricky

Proverbs 31 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Teaching of King Lemuel’s Mother

31 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

No, my son! No, son of my womb!
    No, son of my vows!
Do not give your strength to women,
    your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    or for rulers to desire[a] strong drink;
or else they will drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and will pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to one who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty,
    and remember their misery no more.
Speak out for those who cannot speak,
    for the rights of all the destitute.[b]
Speak out, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Ode to a Capable Wife

10 A capable wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
    she brings her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
    and provides food for her household
    and tasks for her servant-girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
    for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22 She makes herself coverings;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the city gates,
    taking his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy;
    her husband too, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the city gates.

—-

May 8:

 JOIN US ONLINE SUNDAY AT 11:00 AM

Faithbridge UMC will  have our Sunday Morning Video Message available this Sunday but we will not have a traditional in-person worship service Sunday, May 10th due to the unique situation in which we find ourselves as we navigate the Covid-19 public health virus and social distancing guidelines. 

Remember the doors of the church will be open from 945 am until 12:15 pm Sunday morning for those who wish to come and spend time in prayer, hear or view the recorded message, give tithes and offerings, and spend time with God in God’s Sanctuary.

This is not a formal Worship Service and the sermon video is also available online at your Faithbridge UMC website  and at the your Faithbridge UMC Facebook page.

The UMC open doors are simply an opportunity for a time of coming and going as each person so chooses. Pastor Ricky will be present during that time to hear prayer concerns, or pray with, and offer pastoral care and love to those who may arrive while following CDC guidelines.

We will observe all social distancing guidelines at this time and remind all to feel invited yet under no pressure to participate. 

We will continue to post regular updates as information becomes available.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky

May 7:

Julian of Norwich lived during the time of the Black Plague in the 14th century. Many of us recall her time of sheltering in place as we do the same in May of 2020. Julian was an anchoress, meaning she lived literally anchored to the church of St. Julian in an English city called Norwich. Living as an anchoress she lived a life set apart and attached to the church in quarters with no doors, only a window to the sanctuary and another to the world. In her time there about 60 percent of England was wiped out by what they called the Great Pestilence. During this time, Julian wrote her first short book of visions called “Shewings” at about the age of 30, when she was gravely ill. In this work, we find something she wrote that is quoted often:

 “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be made well.”

How can we say that today in the midst of our COVID trauma and loss? How are things to be made well when loved ones die, health care helpers get infected, jobs are lost, sports are suspended and graduation gatherings gone?

Julian wrote her first version of “Shewings” right after her own recovery and some 30 years later, she picked up the work again. She expanded if from 25 chapters to 86 chapters. Today we sometimes call this second version of “Shewings” the Long Text.

I can relate to Julian. As the Black Death ravaged her world, she returned to her mantra and she repeated her mantra. Maybe all those years later she was still repeating it by faith in the midst of moments of doubt.  It takes time to make meaning of the things we experience. Our response is actually part of the meaning that is made, as all manner of things shall be made well. That is something I do well to remember- just for today.

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky

——

May 6: One of the Psalms the people of God sang upon entering into the Temple is recorded in Psalm 24 which begins with:

 . . . The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,the world, and those who live in it; . . .

God’s design in creation is a great teacher here on the Earth. The good creation produces many different species, varieties and weather patterns. Creatures grow and multiply and hopefully live in harmony with each other. We can learn a lot as we observe need for harmony and balance. Maybe I need to sit quietly in creation and ask to see these lessons, for there are benefits being birthed even in the midst of passing seasons.   

Teach me greater gratitude Lord- just for today,

Pastor Ricky

May 5: Some of Jesus’ last words at the time of trauma endured on the cross were echoes from this Psalm:

Psalm 31:1 In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.

5Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

I can  get a virus called shame when thinking about my own past performance instead of remembering God’s faithfulness.

But I can receive a vaccine of grace and mercy when I remember God’s faithfulness in the past, present, and future and this gives me confidence in God’s future.

Grace,

Pastor Ricky

May 4:

The Finance Committee at Faithbridge UMC is grateful for those that are taking advantage of the secure online tithing and offering option on our website link. Your faithful stewardship processes automatically at:

Giving to Fund God’s Faithbridge Missions and Ministries

The Finance Committee is also grateful for those faithful to send in hard copy checks and those that participated in that manner at our drive through Holy Communion service on May 3.

May 2, 2020: God is always doing a new thing . . . Psalm 104:30 reminds us . . . You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth. . .

We are learning to honor God’s chosen starting place for spiritual growth by attending to church matters in new ways. It is fitting to remember how we gather and pray that God be with us in a special way as we receive the gift of Holy Communion.

The verse above reminds me of this meaningful prayer:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations.Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Throughout history those representing the church have offered a prayer when the community of faith come together to receive  Holy Communion.  This is called the epiclesis (also spelled epiklesis; from Ancient Greek: ἐπίκλησις “invocation” or “calling down from on high”) is the part of the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) by which the  one presiding invokes the Holy Spirit upon the Eucharistic bread and wine in many Christian Churches. [We will offer a prayer such as this tomorrow at our virtual gathering:

 This special prayer The United Methodist Church is as follows:

“Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other,
and one in  ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory …” (UMH; pages 10, 14).
In our United Methodist  understanding the Holy Communion table  is open to all who seek God  and come confessing our sin and our need for healing and the power of God’s Spirit at every point in our journey . . . we do this often . . .

Indeed, God is always doing a new thing . . . Psalm 104:30 reminds us . . . You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth. . . 

Healing grace for this day,

Pastor Ricky

 

May 1, 2020:

Join us at Faithbridge UMC from 11:00 to 11:45 am on Sunday May 3,  for a  brief video  communion service followed  by our on site drive through Holy Communion service- we will celebrate by offering our all new prefilled safety communion cups as we  “. . . do this often . . .” 

Message: “Glimpses at early church fellowship: A description not a prescription . . .”

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky

——

April 30, 2020:

An 18th century message I love always seems fitting. The message is by John Wesley,  titled “The Use of Money”.  The central points in this message by Wesley are: Earn all you can, Save all you can, Give all you can

We are certainly experiencing economic hardships in these days. However it is helpful to discern the difference between our wants and our needs. Wesley’s main point above was that as God’s stewards, we use the tool of money in a manner that advances God’s agenda. May we be more mindful and thankful for all the ways we get to participate in and care for God’s good creation each day.

Gratefully,

Pastor Ricky

April 29: Sometimes it seems like I am in the belly of the beast. I easily forget it is not God’s faithfulness that is in question when challenging opportunities arise in life. Consider Jonah Chapter 2:

As my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
    into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols
    forsake their true loyalty.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”

It is difficult to respond to God in praise at times. But when I remember Jonah’s situation it gives me better perspective. In verse one of this chapter we find Jonah offered prayer and praise from a difficult place:

Verse one reminds us: ” . . .Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish,  . . .”

And after Jonah offered a sacrifice to God and praised God even from the belly of the fish for deliverance, then something happened in the next verse:

10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.

God give me grace to respond to my situation today in a way that glorifies You.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky


April 28: I Peter 2:1-3  . . .Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. . .

I am reminded of a quote I am fond of as I read that passage from I Peter today,  “. . . But as to all opinions that do not strike at the root of Christianity we think and let think . . .”

Lord grant me grace and tolerance as I seek to grow in love of God and neighbor today . . .

Shalom,

Pastor Ricky

—-

April 27: In the book of Daniel Chapter 10 I am reminded of a time when one became weary in trying to do the right thing . . .

 . . . My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.

10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia,a] 14 and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.” . . .

Later we find another encouraging promise in Daniel 11:32 . . .

He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant; but the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. . .

How many times are we tempted to give up or grow weary just before a breakthrough in life?

Galatians 6:9 is encouraging in these days… So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

Be strong in the Lord,

Pastor Ricky

—–

April 26 Message:    Found at the link below:

 

April 25:

Sunday Message April 26:
Luke 24:13-35 
“Glimpses of the Kingdom”  at your Faithbridge UMC
 
 
 
and  
 
 
 
Staying connected in Christ,
 
Pastor Ricky
——

April 24:

Faithbridge UMC will not have a traditional in-person worship service Sunday, April 26th due to the unique situation in which we find ourselves as we navigate the Covid-19 public health virus and  social distancing guidelines. 

However the doors of the church will be open from 945 am until 12:15 pm Sunday morning for those who wish to come and spend time in prayer, hear or view the recorded message, give tithes and offerings, and spend time with God in God’s Sanctuary.

This is not a formal Worship Service and the sermon video is also available online at your Faithbridge UMC website  and at the your Faithbridge UMC Facebook page.

The UMC open doors are simply an opportunity for a time of coming and going as each person so chooses. Pastor Ricky will be present during that time to hear prayer concerns, or pray with, and offer pastoral care and love to those who may arrive.

We will observe all social distancing guidelines at this time and remind all to feel invited yet under no pressure to participate. 

We will continue to post regular updates as information becomes available.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky

—-

April 23 OKUMC News Release: The following guiding documents were released earlier today:

To: Pastors and Congregations of the Oklahoma Annual  Conference
From: Bishop Jimmy Nunn and the extended cabinet of the OKUMC

Date:  April 23, 2020
Re:     Memo 3— Covid-19

Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord!

We last wrote to you on March 25th. Since then, you have celebrated Easter without gathering as a congregation in a church building. We want to affirm again all the ways you are reaching your churches, extension ministries, and communities in creative, inspiring, and engaging ways. Keep up the good work!

As we all know, information about COVID-19 and appropriate responses to its spread are complex. It is understandable that you and your ministry leaders would have many questions about relaunching in-person worship and reopening your churches and ministries. We all want to make responsible decisions as we transition from our current status of having no meetings of more than 10 people at safe distances from one another to a graduating increase in public gatherings with fewer restrictions.

Guided by our faith and informed by medical experts as well as national, state, and local government officials; the Cabinet has been considering the best ways for us to respond to this ever-changing situation. While this letter is full of information, we pray you will digest it and reach out to your District Superintendent should you have questions.

First, we are guided by:

  • The Greatest Commandment: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40);
  • Paul’s words to the Philippians, our 2020 Annual Conference theme: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4);
  • Wesley’s Three General Rules – “Do no harm. Do good. and Stay in love with God”

These texts and rules for Christian life are the guiding principles of our response.

Second, we recognize the unique position churches and pastors find themselves in, navigating our relationship with the state while appreciating the separation afforded by our Constitution. This did not escape the teachings of Jesus. When asked about paying taxes, Jesus responded, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22). What we want to provide you with is a way to keep people safe and comply with the governmental guidance while recognizing that our ultimate allegiance is to God’s kingdom.

Third, we uphold what our Social Principles affirm: “Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted.  Creating the personal, environmental and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility – public and private” (¶162V).

How will we respond together? By following Wesley’s three general rules.

First, by doing no harm:

  • Always follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the size of crowds which can be together. Currently, that is 10 people or less who are practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Recognize that these guidelines will likely change over the next few weeks. As they change, you will want to stay current and communicate updated expectations.

Second, by doing good:

  • Continue to reach out to your community in safe ways.
  • Make vulnerable populations a priority. Urge church members to check on their neighbors and make sure they have what they need, including care for body and soul.

Third, by attending upon the ordinances of God:

  • Offer online worship, discipleship opportunities and appropriate pastoral care.
  • Offer the sacrament of Holy Communion as you see fit for your context. (See our pandemic resource page for further guidance on this.)
  • Engage your church leadership team in Christian conferencing as you plan and prepare for next steps. There will be a time when you will have some clearance to reopen and you will want to be ready. If you need assistance in doing this, please communicate your need with your district office.

It is our expectation that all United Methodist Churches remain closed and that staff work from home as much as possible. We do not recommend that any in-person gatherings take place for any reason except for recording worship services and messages of devotion and encouragement and small groups to provide for community needs.  As a reminder, the guidelines are 10 people or less who are practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet. 

Will our guidance change?
In a Wednesday, April 22 press conference, you may have heard the Governor’s office saying that churches could reopen as early as May 1. While we deeply appreciate the desire to re-gather in-person, we will continue to follow the CDC guidelines and expect United Methodist pastors, churches, and ministries in OK not hold public services until Bishop Nunn gives specific instruction for when and how to do so.  We will follow closely how Oklahoma moves through this phased reopening and we will communicate any updates to this communication after May 17.  We have noticed so many of you who are fulfilling the ministry to which you are called using safe practices. Thank you! If you or your church need support in this difficult time, please contact your District Superintendent.

When will we communicate with you?
For the foreseeable future, we will be communicating with you via email each Friday. These regular Friday communications will allow you to know when to expect any updates.

A few more helpful examples of resources for planning our return to face to face worship services are found here:

24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return

Reopening the Church: 4 Phases for an Orderly Return

http://okumc-email.brtapp.com/files/files_library/who+religious+guidance.pdf

Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with concerns and be strong in the Lord as we plan ahead,

Pastor Ricky

April 22: We are looking forward to sharing an update soon regarding the UMC Conference response to recent announcements by the Oklahoma Governor concerning observing social distancing guidelines.  We always seek to live out our faith in effective meaningful and socially responsible ways in the coming weeks ahead. We expect an update on April 23 or shortly thereafter.

Shalom,

Pastor Ricky

——

April 21: II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Recently I did an exercise with a small group. We imagined needing to colonize a new earth-like planet since our current population could no longer be sustained with our limited resources. We had to quickly decide the top four resources we would select to sustain us as we colonized that new planet for up to 12 months. The group selected the four resources of soil, water, chickens and fertile seeds. Then we were reminded that more that more than a billion people on earth today do not  have access to those same four basic needs.

We get to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world full of need.  II Peter 3:9 reminds us this  is because of God’s character. God is still hoping to reach others, many others. May we seek to be a part of reaching others with this good news, even in the midst of stressful times just for today.

Blessed are the peace makers,

Pastor Ricky


April 20: Proverbs 3:24-26 (NLT)

24 You can go to bed without fear;
    you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

During these days when we spend more time than usual with family and or friends, we may need to give one another more space and grace. Granting one another more space may help us avoid the trap of taking offense when we experience differences of opinions. The word trap in Proverbs 3 above reminds me of the word for offense Jesus mentions in Luke 17 below. May God give us grace to avoid the trigger of being offended by differing opinions, just for today.

Luke 17:1 NKJV Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Ricky


April 18: Tomorrow we will reflect on our need  to reconnect with being faithful in our own community of faith as a Christ follower.  For today I invite you to consider exploring ways to do that personally. By doing this we become more equipped to live out our faith to be more supportive of spiritual growth in others. A great place to start is by considering the ancient practices that emerge from  the early church and scripture. Dallas Willard and Richard Foster have done work in this area that might be helpful as you spend time with God and time reading scripture. Here is an example, just for today…..

List of Disciplines

Hoping to “connect” with you soon,

Pastor Ricky

———–

April 17: Another Celebration of the Risen Lord is coming this Sunday!
So, a week after that first Easter, a doubtful Thomas “reconnected” . . . in a new way after being disconnected and full of doubt.
A week after Easter 2020 and some social distancing, we can decide to “reconnect” in new ways too…

“We at Faithbridge hope to connect with you this coming Sunday!”


April 16: Recently I spent a few moments with an idea I encountered in reading and today I invite you to consider the idea as a means of being more humble and grateful for the moment called now. A few years ago I did not exist. In a few short years I will be gone. This idea helps me to experience here and now with more humility and gratefulness. 

The principle at work here is my need for more spiritual awareness.

The obstacle to more spiritual awareness is often my own self will.

My greater purpose in the here and now is always to gain a deeper awareness of God.

By practicing more self examination in each moment I can experience a gradual positive change in the way I think, feel and behave.

This often results in more serenity and peace in the here and now, because I am more aware that while God is not controlling, God is ultimately in control.

Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,a] whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustainsb] all things by his powerful word.

I encourage you to try to waste some time with God today and see what happens!

Pastor Ricky


April 15: Our Christian witness during good times does not have near the impact that it does during a time of great stress. During these days we have a great opportunity to respond not in fear but in faith. Today, how might you glorify God in your response to temporary uncertainty?

Further Instructions  Colossians 4:2-5

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Grace,

Pastor Ricky


April 14:  John 20:19-31

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”


April 13: The Gospel of John is interesting when we read the events just after that first Easter. I offer a devotional question: When was the first “coming of the Spirit upon the disciples”? And how might this help our spiritual growth as disciples today?


EASTER SUNDAY APRIL 12, 2020: Today we invite you to celebrate and share the story of your assurance that Christ is Risen Indeed!

FAITHBRIDGE UMC 2020 EASTER MESSAGE LINK

https://www.facebook.com/heavenerfumc/videos/894439487683358/

——-

HOLY SATURDAY APRIL 11, 2020:

Worship before return to Jerusalem – Luke 24:52 VIDEO LINK

52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

https://www.facebook.com/heavenerfumc/videos/1304332679771296/

But they wrestled with grief on the road to Emmaus…


GOOD FRIDAY 2020:

Who or what are you looking for this weekend? Entertainment? Distraction? Consolation?  We are experiencing grief and loss this Good Friday. However, there are treasures available to us this special Easter weekend. Due to losses imposed by the current socially responsible retreat, benefits await your discovery.  Benefits may emerge by reflection on two very different kinds of Fridays.

Is my current lifestyle reflecting a mindless rush toward consuming more, more media, more soundbites, more of a headlong rush into a Black Friday culture of consumption?

By contrast, how might I benefit from a more mindful embrace of experiencing sabbath time more, of retreating into a Good Friday sort of dying to the culture of more and more consumption?

On this Good Friday may Jesus example of dying to self-will for sake of others guide you. For as a spirit of fear passes over, may the certainty of Resurrection be anticipated. May that resurrection kind of life in you even draw others to seek more. May you seek not more of a culture of consumption. May you seek more knowing, loving and rejoicing in God through a culture of more sabbath time. May you hear God whisper your name this Easter weekend. And may you whisper a response…

Great grace,

Pastor Ricky

Good Friday 2020

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).  . . .  

——-

April 8:

Today we offer a useful set of resources, suggestions and helps related to use of TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL OUTLOOK for Children! With many Easter week activities modified,  our hope is you will find these resources helpful during this special Easter.

Calm Kids is a great podcast that might be helpful. Calm Kids Stories is by kids, for kids to unwind and go to sleep relaxed and happy…. Be Calm on Ashway Island might also be helpful…

https://app.kidslisten.org/pod/The-Calm-Kids-Podcast

https://www.ahwayisland.com/episodes/page/7/

Again, with many Easter week activities modified our hope is you will find these resources helpful…


April 7:

Today we conclude our devotional reflection started last week on the Serenity Prayer. We continue with a fourth question on this subject, one related to application of the Serenity Prayer in our daily life:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

1.  Create your personal definition of the Serenity Prayer: This is how I would say it in my own words:

2.  The definition I just wrote leads to: This is how I am going to use this prayer in my life: describe-

3.  What characteristics does this lead to in my life: This is how using this prayer makes me feel or will make me feel…

4.  This is a picture showing how “the Serenity Prayer” makes me feel. (Draw on back or describe on back)

Discuss any new insights you have gained on the meaning or use of “The Serenity Prayer.”

When has “The Serenity Prayer” been helpful to you in the past?

How do you plan to use “The Serenity Prayer” in the future?

God’s peace as you glorify by God remembering the things you can change and the things you cannot change – just for today,

Pastor Ricky


April 6:

Today after a normal workday I went home and celebrated my 41st anniversary with the love of my life, my beautiful wife Donna. We cherished a chat with our children that evening and that was a joy.

Blessed,

Pastor Ricky


April 5: We had technical difficulty and were unable to bring you our LIVE ONLINE service held at the FAITHBRIDGE UMC sanctuary today.


April 4, 2020:

As we begin Holy Week, a fact not often recalled comes to mind. Around the time of the American Revolution, tensions between the King of England and the American Colonists led to the first “interdenominational movement”. The King of England refused to allow ordained priests to go and serve the Christian colonists Holy Communion. The beginnings of the Revolutionary War was the context.

In short, there was an “extreme emergency” as John Wesley wrote. Wesley designated some “General Superintendents” to act as representatives of those ordained to serve Holy Communion. Then the Christian colonists could be served Holy Communion amid that extreme emergency. Later a good number of those colonists would become known as “people called Methodists”.

Then and now, gathering in God’s house, with God’s people, on God’s day, and praying “come Holy Spirit on these gifts and bread and juice” is important. The way Jesus established the church, saying “do this often” is important. When we honor God’s established means, God gives us special grace. We are renewed according to our state and needs, and this is important.

The need to receive Holy Communion in a new way in extraordinary circumstances is here again. Today we are once again called upon to take extraordinary steps to be faithful as God’s people. In new ways we get to offer ourselves in ministry and in receiving Holy Communion. We come to the Holy Communion Table in a worthy manner when we come confessing our known and unknown sin and asking for God’s Spirit to help us in growing  in the grace and knowledge of God more and more. Holy Communion is a special sacred moment that empowers us, so we “do this often”, just as Jesus instructed. As we seek new ways of being in ministry together let us be in prayer for one another according to our state and needs here and now.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ricky

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is forg] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


APRIL 3: Today we offer resources for a day of prayer and fasting this weekend which is Palm Sunday.

First, we continue our third day of  devotional reflection on the Serenity Prayer. We continue with a third question on this subject, one related to application of the Serenity Prayer in our daily life:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

1.  Create your personal definition of the Serenity Prayer: This is how I would say it in my own words:

2.  The definition I just wrote leads to: This is how I am going to use this prayer in my life: describe-

3.  What characteristics does this lead to in my life: This is how using this prayer makes me feel or will make me feel…

Feelings are difficult to talk about during stressful times.  I recall attending a learning event years ago and hearing a thought that was healing for me at that time. The presenter shared,  “Your feelings are not necessarily right or wrong. Feelings, just are.”

The Psalms are the most widely read religious material we have and the Psalms are full of a wide range of emotions and expressions of all kinds of feelings. It is good to remember to express our feelings to God and ask, “What would You have me learn from this feeling God, and how can I glorify You in my response to these feelings?” just for today-

Ps. 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Phil 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Great grace,

Pastor Ricky

RESOURCES FOR PALM SUNDAY WEEKEND:

Several Christian Traditions are offering opportunities to observe times times of prayer and fasting as a means of uniting together in faith. A quick online search and one may discover many options and expressions: Here are just a couple of opportunities coming up this weekend, one on Saturday and yet another in the Wesleyan Tradition on Sunday:

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/2020/april/gospel-coalition-invites-christians-around-the-world-to-join-day-of-fast-and-pray-event-this-saturday

A Saturday evening to Sunday evening opportunity is found here:

https://wesleyancovenant.org/2020/04/02/prayer-waves-a-global-day-of-fasting-and-prayer/


APRIL 2: Yesterday we began a devotional reflection on the Serenity Prayer. Today we continue with a second question on this subject, one related to application of the Serenity Prayer in our daily life:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

 1. Create your personal definition of the Serenity Prayer: This is how I would say it in my own words:

 2. The definition I just wrote leads to: This is how I am going to use this prayer in my life: describe-

The concept of faith is in some ways similar to unseen elements such as a virus. Even as an unseen virus is shed, new unseen benefits are sometimes birthed.   My hope is that you find the brief exercise above both meaningful and fulfilling as I recall the scripture from II Corinthians 4,  just for today-

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
 
 
 
God’s peace,

Pastor Ricky


April 1, 2020

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Many recognize this short version of what we commonly call the Serenity Prayer. Like many truthful principles, after careful research we cannot be fully sure about origins of this prayer.

The saying about “doing all the good we can . . .” is sometimes attributed to John Wesley, but we are also uncertain about origin of that thought. Origins of Methodism’s general rules also come to mind. Often I reflect on how truthful principles are hard to trace to an original source.

Once I heard a story of an old wise one responding to a child after telling a parable, “I am not sure it happened exactly like that but I am sure that it is true…”, the elder remarked…

As you cope with challenges of grief and loss today, I invite you to create your own definition of the Serenity Prayer.

How would you write it in your own words today to help you cope with “changing the things you can” in a manner that glorifies God?

God’s peace,

Pastor Ricky

—-
March 31 Mission Moment:
 
Today we offer a fifth aspect  in our series on Five Aspects of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). Once again we remind you how awareness of PTG opportunities may be beneficial in trying times: Sometimes a changed sense of priorities may arise due to a traumatic experience.  My Sunday  March 29 Facebook video post speaks to the reminder to rethink our values in trying times. Improving awareness on this area is our fifth and final aspect of PTG we share today . . . Increased awareness of  growth potential in this area may be helpful by:

V.   Greater appreciation of life and/or changed sense of priorities: 

Growth in this area might mean you…

    Have a greater sense of appreciation for what you have

    Experience a shift in priorities

    Redefine what you consider “important”

    Have a greater appreciation for the “small things” in life

The Apostle Paul  writing the Philippians when he may have been incarcerated is helpful when reflecting on this matter in chapter four:

11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.

God’s peace today,

Pastor Ricky

——
March 30: Today we offer a fourth aspect  in our series on Five Aspects of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). Awareness of PTG opportunities may be beneficial in trying times: Sometimes Spiritual Growth is referred to as Mindfulness. Improving this area is a fourth opportunity we share today . . . Increased awareness of  growth potential in this area may be helpful.

IV.   Spiritual growth: 

Regardless of whether you or friends with whom you share your faith consider yourself a religious person at the time of a  trauma, struggling with meaning and spiritual questions resulting from the experience can often lead to a deeper, more refined sense of belief and understanding.

———
March 29: Responding to “God’s Yes” in every season… 
Look for our short video post on this subject by Pastor Ricky this afternoon both here and on the   Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God . . .
 
Here is the third in our series on Five Aspects of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) that we may benefit from in trying times:
 
 
—-
March 27: Helpful resources
 
2.
 
3.
 
 
 
March 27:
Again,Trauma reaches all people.

Often we miss growth opportunities that happen when we experience trauma. A second area of opportunity for Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) is:

II. Openness to new possibilities in life: 

Often the realization of vulnerability and the discovery of new strength and perspective can lead people to make new or more meaningful decisions regarding their path in life.

Isaiah 43:19

19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

——
March 26:

Trauma reaches all people.

Often we miss growth opportunities that happen when we experience trauma. This is called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). I will post a note on this daily in this last week of March 2020. Know that I look forward to worship together face to face as soon as possible. Then we can celebrate and  explore what God’s word offers on this and other topics in our group gatherings once again…. meanwhile….
God’s great grace be with you all,
Pastor Ricky
——-

What does posttraumatic growth look like?

There are 5 major domains of posttraumatic growth. As someone who has experienced a highly challenging event, you may be able to identify with one or more of these growth domains.

I.  More intimate, deeper, or warmer relationships with others:  healing

We’ll admit that we focus a lot on the bad and the ugly of support systems after a loss, but the truth is that many people have really wonderful grief-related personal interactions.  Growth in this area might be experienced if you…

    Feel a greater sense of compassion for others

    Experience compassion from others

    Are able to focus on the relationships that truly matter and ignore those that are harmful or unhelpful

    Feel the experience has helped you to “find out who your friends are”

    Realize the need to cherish your relationships

 
Look for the second domain tomorrow and meanwhile be safe as you love your neighbor as yourself by realizing you may keep them safe by following current safety guidelines. Jesus obeyed authorities too even to and through the cross!
Luke 20:25
25 He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
————–
March 25: A reminder from a recent Sunday Morning gathering: We get to use God’s means of grace to tune in especially in difficult wilderness times:
For example more Prayer, Scripture,  and other creative ways to connect (like email, texts, phone and  this website…) may be helpful…
 

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