At last month’s ONE Worship services, we celebrated our recent and upcoming mission endeavors. We are living out our core value of “Risk-Taking Mission and Service” that compels us “to offer ministry opportunities that stretch our congregation, causing us to do something for the good others out of a deep desire to serve Christ because of the love He has shown us.” Over the next several months, our congregation will send mission teams to minister in the local area, Gretna (Florida), Louisiana, Honduras, Mexico, and Uganda. Persons engaged in these efforts need your prayerful support and financial assistance. If you haven’t already done so, please consider becoming a “mission shareholder” and invest $20 or more in any or all of our mission teams. You can make your donation on-line at mylhumc.net/ give or at the display table in the Transmitter lobby.
To demonstrate the value of these undertakings, let me describe the impact we have had in one location. For the past two summers, we have sent teams to minister to Haitian pastors and their families serving in the Emmaus Fellowship of Churches. We have taught the pastors, encouraged their wives, and cared for their children. As result, these persons who serve in very difficult conditions have returned to their places of ministry with renewed vigor and helpful information. While the Lynn Haven congregation is not entirely responsible for what is taking place among the Emmaus churches in Haiti, we are partners in God’s work in that country.
In 2015, the year after we sponsored our first pastor’s conference, the membership grew 40% to a total of 14,693 in their 65 congregations. In addition, they recorded 3572 decisions for Christ and 2246 persons were baptized into the faith. Praise the Lord! God is clearly at work in Haiti and I feel privileged to be a part of what the Lord is doing there. I hope these facts and figures demonstrate why we go to the expense and trouble to send out mission teams from our church. As the Apostle Paul once said, we are “God co-workers” and the strategic partnerships we form with believers in other places makes us “fellow laborers” in spreading the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1).
There is no telling what the Lord is going to accomplish in and through our 2016 mission efforts. One thing is certain: “God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” possible (Ephesians 3:20). Dream big and ask God for a great harvest for His kingdom!
Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
In February, I participated in a Walk to Emmaus, an extensive 72-hour spiritual retreat. During that weekend, God spoke to me in some profound ways and my relationship with Him was renewed and re-energized. It was very clear the Lord was powerfully at work, not just in my life, but in the lives of everyone who participated. Many of you can testify to similar life-changing encounters with God during your “Walk.” As God’s Spirit moved during that weekend at Blue Lake Camp I wondered why then and there. One thing I observed was that the entire event was bathed in prayer. In particular, every time we gathered for worship or teaching, intercessors were in a nearby prayer room.
So I returned and wondered, “What if we did the same thing here at Lynn Haven?” As a result, I proposed (some say “demanded”) that we enlist persons to pray during our Sunday morning services. For the past month or so, there has been at least one person in the prayer rooms at Transmitter and Fusion while worship has been taking place. These intercessors lift up the pastors and worship team prior to the service, then pray throughout the service, and are available to pray with folks afterward. At Transmitter there are three shifts: 7:45-9:15 am, 9:15-10:45 am, 10:45 am-12:15 pm; while at Fusion there is one shift: 9:15-10:45 am. When I first introduced this idea, I mentioned I feel so strongly about it that, if no one is in the prayer room, I won’t preach. So far, it hasn’t come to that, but we need everyone’s support to carry out this vital ministry. I know some folks are reluctant to sign up, not sure what to do or how to do it. We have put together a prayer guide for intercessors to follow and, if needed, training will be provided. The bottom line is: there is no right or wrong way to pray, it’s just communicating with God. Some folks sit, others stand or pace. Some persons pray out loud, others do so silently. Some intercessors prefer to be alone, others like to pray in tandem.
Several persons have already testified they sensed God’s presence in the prayer room in an unexpected, yet unmistakable manner. We have also seen the Spirit of God working in our services in significant ways in recent days. I am convinced this is all a result of our obedience to Jesus’ commands to “ask, seek, and knock” through persistent prayer. Won’t you join in this effort and at least give it a try?
You can sign up on our website, www. mylhumc.net, by going to the “Connect” tab and following the “Prayer Ministry” link to the “Speaker’s Prayer Chapel” volunteer spot. Or, if you prefer, sign up on the table outside the prayer room. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of our coordinators: Irina Terrell (irina@mylhumc. net; 265-5231), Tommy Tew (email@example.com; 866-5807), or Frank Smith (fsmith2134@ juno.com; 867-3123).
Craig CarterLead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit… Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me. Pray that whenever I speak, the right words will be given to me. (Ephesians 6:18-19a NIRV
In a sermon I preached in March, I mentioned a new ministry our church has started at Southport Elementary School. Since many of our members were at Fusion that day for a special parenting lesson presented by our Hope for the Heart speaker, Lisa Ausley, I would like to take this opportunity to tell everyone about it and how you may participate. We have committed to provide food bags for thirty children to take home each Friday. Without this supplemental food, most of them would have little or nothing to eat over the weekend. Each bag includes items like soup, pasta, meat, crackers, applesauce, and juice boxes. The cost is about $150 per week (or $5 per student). We have committed to serve the children’s needs through the end of this academic year, and then we will continue this project for the entirety of the 2016-2017 school year. We are using proceeds from our Good Samaritan Fund to carry out this ministry. Each month we ask worshipers to leave a donation at the altar during the celebration of Holy Communion. The Good Sam Fund enables us to help the needy in our community by providing financial assistance with food, medicine, and utilities. We will continue to meet these needs along with funding the food bags for Southport Elementary. I invite you to consider bringing a special offering on the first Sunday of each month. Or you may choose to make a one-time or periodic donation to support this ministry to “the least and the lost” in our local area. You may want to give $150 or some portion of that amount to provide a week’s worth of food for the students. Baskets will be located near the altar during Communion, or you can make a donation any time by designating your gift, “Good Sam Fund” or “Southport Food Bags.” In addition, you can assist with this ministry in a “hands on” fashion in the following ways. Our AWANA kids pack the bags each Wednesday, and we need a couple of folks to assist them from 6:15-7:00 pm. We also need someone to pick up the grocery order from Sam’s Club twice a month. The food is pre-ordered, pre-paid, boxed and ready for transport. Finally, servants are needed to deliver the food bags to Southport each Thursday morning. If you are willing to help in any of these ways, either once or on a regular basis, please contact Cindy Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org; 265-5231). This is yet another opportunity for us to be engaged in “RiskTaking Mission and Service.” We hope to develop a long-term partnership with Southport Elementary and are currently planning to hold our “Back to School Bash” there in August. In addition to contributing your regular tithes and offerings, bring a special offering on April 3 as we celebrate God’s goodness and participate in Holy Communion. Serving alongside you in Jesus’ name,
Craig Carter Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
P.S. Another great mission opportunity awaits us on Saturday, April 16 with our “City Serve” outreach. Sign up to join one of the teams that will be reaching out to our community with the love of Christ
As we enter the month of March, we find ourselves in the midst of the Lenten season of the Christian year. It is a period of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday prior to Easter. Our English word, Lent, comes from the Anglo-Saxon term, lencten, which means “spring.” It is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter through prayer, repentance, and reflecting on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Lent concludes with the most significant period of time in the Christian year – Holy Week. Through a series of special events, we will commemorate what transpired during the final days of Jesus’ earthly life. We will have devotionals, Monday – Friday, March 21-25. Since it will be spring break for Bay County Schools, we have decided to hold them at mid-day this year. We will meet in the Transmitter Chapel each day beginning at 12 noon. The service will include Scripture reading, prayer, and a brief devotional message. Afterward, a light lunch will be served in the Fellowship Hall. On Thursday, March 24, we will hold a Seder Meal & Celebratory Dinner, at 5:30 pm, in the Transmitter Sanctuary. The Seder is the centerpiece of the Jewish festival of Passover, which commemorates God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. You may recall Jesus’ crucifixion occurred during Passover and the Last Supper He celebrated with His disciples may have been the Seder meal. So, for Christians, it has become a depiction of Christ’s atonement and the freedom from sin brought by His sacrificial death. In addition to the symbolic meal that will be reenacted, Holy Communion will be celebrated, and dinner will be served. The cost is $5 per person ($20 max per family). Please make reservations by contacting Heather Howell in the church office at 265-5231 or Heather@ MyLHUMC.net. Space is limited to 200 persons. Children are encouraged to participate so childcare will only be provided for preschool and nursery ages. We will then remember our Lord’s suffering and death with a Good Friday Tenebrae Service of Darkness, at 7:00 pm, in the Transmitter Sanctuary. Through Scripture reading, prayers, hymns, special music, and the extinguishing of candles, we will journey to the Cross where Jesus gave His life for us. Once again, childcare will be provided only for preschool and nursery ages. Easter Sunday will begin with a Sunrise Service at 6:30 am at Kinsaul Park. This informal gathering will include joyous singing, a message by Jim Luther, and the celebration of Holy Communion. Easter services will occur at our regular worship times – 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am in the Transmitter Sanctuary, 11:00 am in the Transmitter Chapel, and 9:30 am at the Fusion campus. The message will fit our Common Enemies series and will address what the New Testament calls the final enemy, “Death.” Treasure Kids children’s church will meet for the entire hour at 9:30 and 11:00 at Transmitter and 9:30 at Fusion. Sunday School will not be held on this day. I encourage you to make every effort to be with us for ALL of these worship experiences as we remember the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, prayerfully consider inviting a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member to join us as we celebrate the Good News of salvation. Perhaps more than any other time, persons welcome invitations to church around Easter. May God bless us with a generous outpouring of His Holy Spirit as we celebrate the salvation and eternal life He has provided us through His Son Jesus – our Risen Lord!
Craig Carter Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC