Ilook forward to what God has in store for us as a congregation in 2018. We will get things started in a grand way with our Imagine Celebration at all services on January 7. This past fall, we imagined what life would be like if we managed our money God’s way. Through participation in Financial Peace University (FPU) classes, many persons learned how to live within their means and found freedom from debt and worry. On January 7th, we will celebrate how lives were transformed through the experience and “imagine” what might happen when we choose to honor God with all He’s entrusted to our care – not just our money, but our time, talents, and relationships as well. You won’t want to miss this fun and exciting start to the New Year.
We will follow up that celebration with a three-week sermon series called, “Imagine Great Relationships.” Using the Great Commandment as a guide, we will explore how we can fulfill Jesus’ directives to love God, others, and ourselves. I believe we will all benefit from these lessons since life is all about relationships and the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of right relationships.
I am very excited about our “Renewal 2018” that is planned for early February. My friend and mentor, Mark Nysewander, will be coming as our guest speaker. Mark is the teaching pastor at the Riverstone Church in suburban Atlanta and has served as a United Methodist pastor, evangelist, missionary, and church planter. He is the author of four books and has had a tremendous influence on my life and ministry. I really look forward to you meeting him and benefiting from his anointed ministry. On Saturday morning, February 10, Mark will teach a 3-session seminar on the coming of God’s Kingdom and the return of Christ. Then he will serve as the preacher at our Sunday morning services and special nightly services, Sunday through Tuesday, February 11-13. Mark will describe what revival looks like and how we can avail ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit. More details will follow, but for now, please mark your calendars, reserve the dates, and plan to attend. There will be activities for children during the evening services and nursery care will be provided.
As you can see, we are going to get off to a fast start in 2018. I believe we are in for an exciting ride, so “buckle your seat belts” and prepare to see God do His life-changing work. Please join me in praying for the Lord to bring renewal and revival to the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church so we, in turn, can make a difference for Christ and change our community and world. To God be the glory!
Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC
I love Sunday morning worship. There is just something about coming together with the people of God, singing praise, hearing the Gospel proclaimed, and being reminded that we are adopted sons and daughters of the living God that puts a smile on my face. While I love what that moment is each and every week, there is a concern that always lives within me on Sundays. The concern is that when the Spirit moves and the feeling of God’s presence is palpable that experience becomes the end goal for which people long.
While a good feeling on Sunday morning is a positive thing, it cannot be the end of worship. Rather that good emotion should launch us towards continuous transformation into Jesus’ image (2 Corinthians 3:18). As those moments transform us they should then transform our actions and cause us to create new doorways to make & grow disciples of Jesus Christ.
Now I don’t know if you noticed it or not but I dropped the word “should” two times in the previous two sentences. Often people use that word “should” to identify lack, where life isn’t being lived as it is supposed to be lived. On this occasion however I use this word should as a mechanism for celebration of what our worship has been and the direction in which it is leading us.
In the recent past during worship services our congregation has heard much about the changes we desire at Fusion. As a result of God moving in hearts and minds, people have responded beyond good feelings. Individuals have since offered financial, time, and spiritual resources to transform Fusion so that we may use it to transform Bay County.
Because of the way past worshipful moments have led to present transformative actions, I’m thrilled to report we’re in the middle of many positive changes at Fusion. We’re seeing the long needed HVAC upgrade realized, have a new and improved nursery facility, will soon have inflatables to use weekly for children’s ministry and weekday recreation events, and have a number of new activities going on, not the least of which are children’s flag football leagues and adult soccer leagues.
While it is a gift to see each of those tangible things transforming in front of me, what is more significant is that I’m already getting to share time with members of our community who, until now, haven’t been a part of Fusion. I’ve been able to share with numerous parents that when they bring their kids they’ll be in a place that is safe and fun, but more significantly is a Christian community where they are welcome. Likewise, I’ve been able to gather at midfield before flag football games and pray over children that they may know and grow in the knowledge of Christ.
As exciting as all of this is, it is not the end, but rather just the beginning of a new cycle of worship. You see when we take moments like this to give thanks for all that God is doing through his people at LHUMC it specially prepares us for even more amazing worship that will lead to new change in us as individuals and as the body of Christ. For those reasons, I thank you for what we’ve been able to do, hope to see you at Fusion through the week and at worship on Sunday, and even more than that look forward to the future God has for us. All of this tells me that the best is yet to come.
Rudy OlivoFusion Campus Pastor, LHUMC
This fall we launched our Imagine campaign and we have about 200 adults along with 50 children and youth enrolled in Financial Peace University (FPU) classes. Based on the teaching of money management guru, Dave Ramsey, participants are learning how to operate from a budget, get out of debt, save for emergencies, plan for college and retirement, buy the right insurance, and give generously. This is the second time I have gone through FPU and have found it extremely helpful both times.
One of the foundational principles of FPU is that we have to take control of our finances. Otherwise, money will become our master and we will be enslaved by it. It is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He said, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV) So, the choice is ours: we can serve money or we can force money to serve us and God’s purposes. One of the ways in which we master our money is through giving. Generosity keeps us from serving money and its unquenchable thirst for more. At the same time, it allows us to serve God, our true Master and Friend, by financially supporting His on-going work in the world.
On Sunday, November 5th, we are asking every member and participant in the life of the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church to take control of their finances and use their God-given resources to serve Christ and His Church. While no one will be forced to do so, everyone will be invited on that day to make a financial commitment toward our 2018 ministry budget. Also, since stewardship includes wise and godly management, not only of our treasures, but also of our time and talents, we want everyone to volunteer for at least one area of service for the coming year as well. In such a way, we fulfill our God-given destiny and become the generous givers He designed us to be. Each of us has been made in God’s image and He is the greatest Giver of all since He gave the supreme gift of His Son Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Please plan to join us on November 5th as we “imagine being a cheerful giver.” If, for some reason, you cannot attend worship, please complete the commitment sheet you receive in the mail and return it to the church office or go on-line to www.myLHUMC.net and record your pledge.
I do not have to “imagine” what it is like being the pastor of a generous congregation because I already am. On an almost daily basis, I have a front row seat and witness the faithfulness of our members who freely and gladly give their time, money, and energy to serve God and fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Thank you for what you are already doing and imagine all the Lord wants to do in and through this fellowship of believers. Best of all, God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
To God be the glory,
The dictionary defines a mentor as “a wise and trusted counselor, or an influential sponsor or supporter.” I have been privileged to have had numerous mentors over the course of my lifetime. They have included coaches, Sunday School teachers, youth group sponsors, senior military officers, small group leaders, and fellow pastors. These persons who have invested their time and energy in me have helped me become who I am today. I can’t imagine who or what I’d be without them (and you probably don’t want to know either!).
Mentors are an indispensable part of the program at New Horizons Learning Center, which is located across from our Fusion Campus. The mentoring program there provides positive role models for special needs and at-risk students in grades 6-12. Mentors offer friendship, guidance and emotional support that prepares the students for adulthood. Joining many others from our congregation, I have served as a mentor at New Horizons for the past three years. It has been a rewarding experience that has been mutually beneficial to my student and to me. I have developed a friendship with a young man who is trying to do the right things and make good decisions. He just needs a little guidance and encouragement along the way. I have also learned a lot from him, including some important lessons in gratitude. Mentors are assigned based on gender and personality. Currently, 10 men and 5 women mentors are needed. Our church has a special relationship with New Horizons and we have been given an “open door” of ministry by their faculty and staff. We want to continue to support their efforts in any way we can, so if you are interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Margaret Tidmore (firstname.lastname@example.org; 850-767-1130). You can also find more information about the New Horizons mentoring program at www.becomeamentor.org.
Recognizing the value of mentors, the Bay District School system has initiated a program called Elevate Bay whose stated purpose is “lifting our kids to new heights.” They have set a goal of having 1000 mentors involved in our county’s elementary schools. Classroom mentors work in small groups for academic and behavioral support for the students involved. One-on-one mentors focus on the specific needs of one particular student over time. Lunch buddies provide the extra support and supervision students need outside the classroom. Since our congregation has an on-going partnership with Southport Elementary, we want to participate fully in the program. Training is provided and the time commitment is one hour at the school, at least every other week. If you are interested in being a Southport mentor, please contact Cindy Hansen (email@example.com). Or, if you’d like to volunteer at a different school, get in touch with the county coordinator, Stacey Legg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Somebody has rightly said that everyone needs a mentor and needs to be a mentor to someone. If you don’t have a mentor already, I encourage you to find someone to fill that role for you. We can all benefit from a mature follower of Christ who will assist us in our spiritual development. I also pray you will seriously consider being a mentor, either to a new Christian in our church family or to a student in our community. Together, with God’s help, we can truly become the Body of Christ in the world.
In Christ's Name,