Sacred 4-Letter Words: HOLY

Pastor Craig Carter When my children were little, they were home schooled and lived a fairly sheltered existence. I served a small church in rural Alabama and their regular baby sitter was a young lady from our congregation who was like an adopted daughter to us. She was their primary connection to the “outside world” and, being a teenager, exposed them to a pop culture. On one occasion, after leaving them with her for a while, when we arrived home they informed us, “We watched a movie with Gigi and they said a bad word!” Holding our breath and imagining …

A New Year of Holiness

Pastor Craig Carter What are some words associated with Christmas? First, let’s eliminate the obvious answer the preacher is looking for: Jesus. What else comes to mind? From a cultural point of view, it may be naughty, nice, snow, cheer, jolly, or debt. Topping the Christian list has to be joy, hope, peace, and believe. While those words all have a connection to the Christmas story told in Scripture, we’re leaving out the most common one – holy. Some form of the word appears 70 times in our Advent devotional guide by J.D. Walt. Think about it: Christmas is a …

A New Year of Contemplation

Pastor Terry Tatum Each year around this time I tend to reflect on the past year, or years. I think about what was, what is, and what could have been. Without any prompting my mind just goes in that direction. Reflecting on 2020 has been different to say the least. I really love to hear the scriptures read regarding the birth of Christ, the wise men, the shepherds, the virgin birth, and that there was no room for them at the inn. It causes me to truly contemplate where I am and where I’m going. This week during our church-wide …

Paying it Forward: A Christmas Blessing

Mary McQuagge, Children’s Minister In the weeks after Hurricane Michael countless churches within the United Methodist connection came forward to help Bay County and surrounding communities in our time of need. This year the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana was hit with not one, but two major hurricanes. In the aftermath, God led our church to opportunity to pay forward the kindness we had been shown through a partnership with University and First United Methodist Churches in Lake Charles. We are so thankful to God for using us to provide a Lake Charles Christmas Blessing! Our members graciously donated toys …

A New Year of Awakening

Pastor Craig Carter Is anyone ready for the year to be over? 2020 has been one for the record books. It certainly has been the craziest in my lifetime. Someone has described it as “the gift nobody wanted, but it keeps giving and giving.” Let me remind you of just a few of the things that have happened this year: The year began with Australian bush fires, locusts in Africa, and the impeachment of the President (seems like long ago, doesn’t it?). Hurricane season started early and lasted late (and I’m not sure it’s over yet!) It brought 30 named …

How to Live with Power

Pastor Craig Carter The primary message in the Letter of James is that Christian faith should be demonstrated through Christian action. It’s not enough to know the right thing to do, real followers of Jesus actually do it. So the key verse is found in chapter one, verse 22: Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. (James 1:22a NLT) James argues against a brand of Christianity that simply accumulates biblical knowledge. It’s something I believe is commonplace today as we seem to have developed what I like to refer to as “alien believers.” Do you …

How to Live with Wealth

Pastor Craig Carter This fall we have been engaged in a church-wide study of the Letter of James. This New Testament book is filled with practical advice and shows us “how to live” as Christians. In many ways, the letter of James serves as a commentary on Jesus’ teaching as it touches on many of the themes Christ addressed. One such theme is money. You’ve probably heard that Jesus talked about money more than any other subject. That being the case, it is not surprising that James addresses the topic as well. Jesus made it very clear that material possessions …

How to Live in the World

Pastor Terry Tatum We are several weeks into our church-wide study of the book of James titled “How to Live.” We’ve covered a large portion of James so far and this week we’re discussing how to live in the world. First let’s recap a couple of things we’ve learned: Who was James and who was he writing to? James was the half-brother of Jesus and a leader in the church in Jerusalem. He was writing to Jewish converts to Christianity. In other words, he was writing to people who should know the right things to do – church folks, a.k.a. …

How to Live with Wisdom

Pastor Craig Carter The New Testament letter of James is filled with practical advice and tells us how to live as God’s people. We have learned how to live with patience in times of trouble … in victory over temptation … with others both inside and outside the fellowship … by faith that is real and alive and … and with a controlled tongue. In each case, James says it’s not enough to know the right thing to do, we must do it. But therein lies a two-fold problem. First of all, how do we know what to do in …

How to Live with a Controlled Tongue

Craig Carter The New Testament Letter of James is filled with practical advice to help us live as Christians. As a congregation we have been studying this letter in detail since early September. We have observed that James first introduces a wide range of subjects in the opening chapter and then addresses each topic in greater detail throughout the remainder of his letter. Today we are going to explore James’ statements in chapters one and three regarding how to live with a controlled tongue.  In chapter one, he says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, …