In our cur rent sermon series, Margin, we have observed that we live in a society that gives us more and more of everything at a faster and faster pace. As a result, we feel overwhelmed and overloaded and are left with little room, or margin, in which to operate. We have explored what the Bible has to say about the dangers of living on the edge and how God’s Word provides relief. Along the way, we have noted that many people in our world lack any financial margin in their lives as they live paycheck to paycheck and face enormous amounts of debt. In November we will talk ab o u t h ow c o n t e n t m e n t and simplicity enable us to achieve and maintain financial security and give us the margin we need to become generous givers. It will serve as our annual stewardship emphasis and on Sunday, November 13, ever yone will be asked to make commitments toward our 2017 ministries. As always, we will focus on the need of each person to give in response to God’s goodness rather than on the church’s need to receive. Next year’s ministry budget has not yet been set and will not be determined until we calculate our anticipated income based on cur rent giving patterns and pledges received. So, as an act of faith and obedience, each person is invited to give their time, talents, and treasures in ser vice to God and His Church by volunteering for one or more areas of service and by making a financial commitment for the coming year. In addition, we hope many individuals and families will decide to contribute to our Dollar-aDay initiative that is being used to create financial margin for our congregation as we pay down the debt. So far in 2016, we have received over $65,000 and every penny has been applied to reduce the principal on our church’s mortgage, thus significantly shortening our payment schedule. Over the next few weeks, please plan to join us in worship each Sunday morning as we learn how to live a lifestyle that provides us some margin, or breathing room, in our lives. Then be prepared to respond on November 13, when we make our commitments to give and serve in 2017. While we all have limits to what we can do and accomplish, we worship a God that knows no bounds so He operates well beyond the margins of our human experience.
To Him be the glory!
Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
In September, we welcomed a new episcopal leader for the Alabama-West Florida Conference, Bishop David Graves. As our resident bishop, he provides spiritual leadership and general oversight to the 600+ churches in our area. One of his responsibilities is to assign pastors to serve the various congregations each year. Bishop Graves was elected to the episcopacy this past summer by lay and clergy representatives from the annual conferences that make up the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. Previously, he served as a pastor and district superintendent in the Holston (Tennessee) Conference. Bishop Graves’ passion is sharing Jesus, seeing the overlooked, joining God in transforming lives, and changing the world one person at a time. He has a heart and hands for missions and has led several short-term (local, national, and international) mission teams. Bishop Graves is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee and Candler School of Theology, at Emory University. He has shared 35 years of marriage with his wife, Nancy, and they have two adult children, Casey and Gregg. I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Graves and hearing him preach recently at a welcoming service held in Niceville, which I attended along with our other pastors, Terry and Rudy. We returned to Lynn Haven excited about our new leader and eager to see how and where he is going to lead our conference in the days to come. Bishop Graves is a godly man who clearly has a passion for reaching people for Christ and wants to empower and equip local congregations to do so effectively. I am truly grateful for the spiritual leaders God has appointed over me (and I say that not just because they hold my destiny in their hands). Our primary overseer is the Marianna-Panama City District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Doug Pennington. Most of you are very familiar with him as he is my predecessor and served this congregation for 19 years. In his current role, Doug oversees the ministries of 70 congregations, supervises the pastors, and assists the bishop in the appointment-making process. He preached at the Transmitter campus in July and will be with us on November 29 to conduct our annual business session called the charge conference. In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul says, “I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 CEV). Those in power and authority over us include our bishop and district superintendent. Please join me in asking God to help and bless Bishop Graves and Doug, and at the same time, let’s tell the Lord how thankful we are for them. Together, we will continue to worship and honor God in all we do.
As the calendar changes from August to September, I am looking forward to what the Fall holds. No, unlike many of you, it’s not because football season is about to begin. It’s certainly not because my beloved Atlanta Braves are making a playoff run. Instead, it’s because our regular schedule of ministries is about to resume and that makes it an exciting time of the year.
On September 7, our Wednesday evening activities will begin again after a summer hiatus. The youth are already in full swing at the Fusion campus. After their kickoff event on August 31, the Awanas and Cubbies will continue their journey of discipleship as they learn about Jesus and His Word.
The Pastor’s Bible Study will meet each week in the Sanctuary at 6:15 pm (following the Awana opening program). I will teach a six-week course on “How to Study the Bible.” We will explore some devotional approaches to Scripture along with more in-depth methods like inductive, topical, and character studies. The various steps in the process will be described and demonstrated so participants will gain confidence in their own ability to read, interpret, and apply God’s Word.
September 11th is going to be a memorable milestone in the life of our congregation. While that date will live in infamy for our nation because of the 9/11 attacks, it will serve as a new beginning for the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church as we launch a new Sunday morning worship schedule. As I’m sure you’re aware, in the Transmitter Sanctuary we will have a contemporary service at 9:30 am and a traditional service at 11:00 am. We will continue the 9:30 am contemporary service at the Fusion campus and hope to add an additional service there in the not-too-distant future. Considering our increased attendance this summer at Fusion (up nearly 25% over a year ago), that might not be far away.
We are convinced this new arrangement will make worship more meaningful for our existing members and attractive to newcomers at all service times and locations.
Also, we will start streaming the message on Facebook Live at 10 am each Sunday which will enable us to reach an even wider audience with the life-changing message of Christ.
The following week, September 18, we will begin a new sermon series called “Margin.” Based on a book by that title, it will address the devastating feelings of overload and stress that are so prevalent in our world today. Margin is the space that should exist between our selves and our limits. It’s something held in reserve for contingencies and unanticipated emergencies. We’ll investigate what the Bible has to say about the dangers of living on the edge and how God’s Word provides relief that brings us emotional energy, physical health, financial security, and satisfying relationships. As a result, we’ll be more available to follow God’s will and serve His eternal purposes.
Please plan to join us each Sunday and Wednesday and invite a friend, neighbor, or coworker to come with you. It’s a truly exciting time to be a part of this “Healthy Body” of Christ (get that reference to our current sermon series?). I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us as we carry out our divinely-appointed mission and “make disciples of Jesus Christ.” To God be the glory!