A faithful disciple of Jesus 

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34 

We must first deny ourselves. It is not what we want for our lives but what Christ wants for us. Our thoughts and ideas apart from Christ are leading us away from him.

Glimpses of Grace & Truth...The best of intentions does not guarantee the best of outcomes. Leaders in church, non-profit and in corporate America have listened for decades to the wisdom of Guy Kawasaki who helped Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple. One of the nuggets of wisdom Guy shares often came not from the business world but from the ordinary life—interesting but ordinary—life of being a husband and father. When Guy and his wife had their first child, they were determined to be politically and environmentally correct. They were going to use cotton diapers and wash them themselves. Two weeks went by. Doing your own cotton diapers, they discovered, is quite difficult.

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified” 

One of my all-time favorite hymns is Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. This well-known hymn was penned by Robert Robinson in 1758. Robinson was preparing to preach at the Calvanist Methodist Chapel in Norfolk, England and wrote the lyrics to this hymn to accompany his sermon for the day.

God’s Grace Is Greater Than Our Brokenness 

“Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right sprit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” Psalm 51: 9- 12 

Glimpsing Grace & Truth…Winners and Losers. “this % for; that % against”—difficult but decisive votes.  So last night, the Methodist pastor was asked by their neighbor about General Conference, “Who won?”  In today’s terms, it sounds like a good question. At least, it’s a normal question…because "winners and losers" is how we usually gauge things.  It’s how we gauge things in sports, since pretty much every sporting event has a winner and a loser (with the occasional tie). Every election has winners and losers.  Every ballot, every survey, every competition has winners and losers.  If we use such a strict definition of winning and losing, then our high school dance team’s 4th place finish last weekend in Orlando’s national competition was a loss.  And unfortunately, the way many view the last four days of General Conference, we talk in terms of winners and losers. 

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified” 

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand And cast a wishful eye 

To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
O who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land. 

In times of trouble 

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:39-40 

Unlearning Past Lessons to Reach Future Growth... After three and a half years with a large accounting firm, I received a promotion to Manager. My first order of business was going to our training facility outside Chicago, where I joined the 500+ others who had been promoted worldwide that year. We attended teaching sessions lead by some of the brightest minds in business, academia and industry. They helped us realize that despite any talents making us worthy of promotion, we all had many lessons to learn, and some lessons to unlearn. 

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified”
The season of Lent is just a few weeks away. Here is a look ahead to the many worship opportunities during this season of preparation.

Lenten Schedule

The Way of Love
As we approach Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fitting to look at what the Bible says about love. Love is required of us if we are to live in the image of Jesus. Our actions are without merit in the eyes of God without love. Our faith will make no impact without love. Love is the reason God sent Jesus to die on the cross; love is the reason Jesus endured the cross, and love is the reason we are to show people the way to the cross.

We live in a time of polarization, division, and conflict. In the world, in the church, and even in our personal lives it is becoming more and more difficult to be in community with people with whom we disagree. This does not mean that we should abandon this work, rather it is part of who we are in Christ’s Church, and this has always been a struggle for us as a people. The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus and implored that unity was a mark of Christian discipleship. Paul writes “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified” 

“Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” 

A Fisherman’s Tale 

We all have or at least know someone who has a fishing story. You know the one, where the fish gets bigger each time it is told. How about a story where so many fish were caught that it filled up 2 boats! In our lectionary reading for this week we see where Jesus heads out on a boat with James, John, and Simon. The men had been fishing all day with no luck, that is until Jesus stepped in. Jesus used the need that these men had to provide a real example of what faith can do.

Glimpses of Grace & Truth...Some time back, I injured a finger on my right hand. After several days of the pain getting worse, I finally went to see a friend who is a hand specialist. There was nothing visible on the outside of my hand indicating it was hurt—not a bruise, not a cut, nothing suggesting an injury. But the pain I felt inside made it clear something was wrong. My friend used one of those state-of-the-art digital X-Ray machines, and within minutes, we could see on the inside of my hand the injuries that weren’t visible on the outside. 

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified” 

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to believe we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and love. 

Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved in living situations to do the truth in love; to practice your acceptance, until we know by heart the table of forgiveness and laughter's healing art. 

– Fred Kaan, 1975 

One day in the house of the Lord 

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10 

This week we laid to rest a husband, father, grandfather, a friend. A man who changed the life of anyone whom he came in contact with. This man impacted the lives of countless children and youth.

FEBRUARY COMMUNION OFFERING 

Our Communion Offering this Sunday will support Operation 20/20. Based at Emmanuel UMC the volunteers take our old glasses and sunglasses, clean, repair, and grade them so they can be sent out with international mission teams. Then the miracles happen. One of the missionary opticians told about one person they were able to help. A blind 2-year-old boy and his mother walked many miles to reach the mission. An examination determined what the little boy needed. The right prescription for the child was among the donations, but the donated glasses were adult-sized and the frames were so large that the eyeglasses fell from the child’s face.

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified”
We’ve finished our Christmas celebrations, packed up our decorations, and now have some time to relax. Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the Epiphany of Our Lord (the arrival of the Wise Men) and a few weeks from today, we will celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord. What comes after Transfiguration Sunday? That’s right! Lent. I would imagine that some (if not many) people dread the arrival of Lent. After all, we have to give up something! We tend to discipline ourselves more during this penitent season.

The Fulfillment of Scripture
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at Him intently. Then He began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Luke 4:18-21

Glimpses of Grace & Truth...Since we talked last week about puzzle pieces, let’s take a closer look at a piece that both fills its spot and touches many other pieces. This piece, our Lay Leadership and Nominations Team, works hard to identify, secure, equip, and assist our laity in reaching their potential as leaders in Christ’s Church.

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified”
The phrase “Time flies when you’re having fun” seems to be true. But, perhaps more true, time seems to always fly. Days, weeks, months, and years fly by within the blink of an eye. We grow up, grow older, and begin families of our own. It all moves by so quickly. The seasons of the church help us to move throughout our lives, reminding us of the greatest stories of our faith. We have just finished one such season, Christmas. We are now in the Season after Epiphany. This is often thought of as a season of Light, for our light has come into the world, the Christ Child. In just a few short weeks, we will receive ashes and begin the holy season on Lent... more to come later.

A New Miracle
“The miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in Him.” John 2:11
We experience the first of so many miracles Jesus performed here in John 2. I believe the most intriguing part of this story is the circumstances that surround this miracle. This is Jesus’ first attempt to prove to His disciples that He is who He says He is. Jesus chose to turn water into wine, not heal the blind or deaf, not raise someone from the dead, not to cast out demons, but to turn water into wine! Why?

Grace and Peace Sisters and Brothers,
Two weeks ago in worship, we celebrated a service of baptism renewal,
that we might remember our baptism and be thankful. At baptism, we are initiated into the new covenant in Jesus Christ and membership in the Church, Christ’s body in the world. For many, this happens when they are very young. Baptism is a moment in which God is truly present, breaking into the mundane realm of our lives proclaiming the true reality of the Resurrection and the Kingdom of God. When we refer to baptism as a sacrament, we (the Church) claim that the holy nature of baptism is not of our own doing but God’s and baptism is something God has freely offered to us all.

“When In Our Music God Is Glorified” 

Did you know? 

Did you know that our organ turned 95 this year? That’s right, our organ was installed 95 years ago! Although the organ has been a part of the FUMC family for such a long time, I would wager that not much is known about it. Our organ is a pipe organ; the sounds you hear each Sunday come from pipes. These pipes are made from several materials such as wood and metal. Our organ contains several hundred pipes ranging in size from 16 feet to one inch. All of the pipes are housed in a chamber, a closet-like room, behind the choir loft. 

Glimpses of Grace & Truth...When was the last time you worked on a puzzle? I don’t mean your teenager. Though teens can be puzzling, what I’m talking about is the puzzles in a box with a certain number of pieces (maybe 6-10 for kids, or thousands for adults). Whether your puzzle is ten pieces or two thousand, the most common problem is the missing piece. It leaves a gap, a hole showing that the puzzle is incomplete. Life is often like a puzzle. There are times when all the pieces come together, but many more times when something seems missing. Maybe it’s as obvious as the dearly loved spouse who made it to heaven before us, or that child, friend, or loved one who simply died too soon. But life has other pieces missing like being raised in a good home (or even having a home); being in a marriage that’s little more than roommates;

“When In Our Music God is Glorified” 

Spirituals always give me a sense of comfort. And aren’t they meant to do just that? The always- poignant texts of spirituals have multiple meanings. There is always the biblical/scriptural
aspect of the text, but often there is a secret message. During the time of slavery, often, slaves would use spirituals as a means of communicating safely with each other without being caught. Some spirituals speak of the Promised Land (and of going there). There is an obvious reference to Heaven, but also ideas of escaping persecution and slavery. 

An old year is passing and a new year is beginning
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you peace.” Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” Numbers 6: 22-27 

Leadership, Worship, and Christian Covenant in 2019... With each New Year, we reach a turning point for our congregation, and especially our leadership teams. If you’ve been around our teams over the past year, or taken a close look at our church calendar, you’ve seen that our Vision Team did some good work to simplify our leadership structure. They condensed the number of teams and improved the flow of our meetings so that all of us could spend a little less time in meetings talking about ministry and more time in actually doing ministry. We should all notice these things in early 2019, especially as we talk about the role all of us as Christians play in ministry on January 6th, and then as we consecrate our leaders on Jan. 13th. 

What a Wonderful Time of Year
“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be
astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that
you would not believe if told.” Habakkuk 1:5
As I was reading through the Christmas story this
morning, a verse in Habakkuk entered into my mind.

Hold on just a little while longer, Hold on just a little while longer, Hold on just a little while longer. Everything will be alright, Pray on… Sing on… Fight on… Everything will be alright…
As we move towards Christmas and the climax of the Advent season, I am reminded of the words of this old spiritual. “Hold On” has an unknown origin, yet has been sung by persons of African decent in this country for a long time. African Americans in this country embodied these words as they lived through slavery, segregation, and the fight against these things. All for a desire to be seen as people of worth and dignity in the eyes of their fellow humans, all of this carried by hope. Hope that things will get better, that freedom would come. This Sunday we will read from Luke’s telling of the Gospel Story. In the part of God’s story that we will read and celebrate this week, we will hear the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She proclaims the hope of her people and the hope that is to come in Jesus, the Messiah saying,

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

We come to the third Sunday of Advent this Sunday: Joy. Sometimes it is hard to find Joy, especially during difficult times. Remember, however, that we are in a season of expectation, longing, and hopefulness. We wait for the coming of Christ at Christmas. This Sunday we light the candle of Joy, a reminder that Christ brings us everlasting joy. In many traditions, the third Sunday of Advent is devoted to Mary, the mother of God.

What does the Christ Child mean to me? 

“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!’ ”

Glimpses of the Grace and Truth in Christmas...Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Yes, it is a bit early for some of that, but it’s good to practice celebrating all season long, even adding an exclamation point at the end of things. The exclamation point should remind us of a truth I learned from a retired lumber man in my first appointment, “Pastor, every day is Christmas!” He reminded me that every day of the year is a day to celebrate Christmas. Christmas means Christ is born, because every day is a good day to remember that. 

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

Christmas Is Coming! We’re supposed to be happy, aren’t we? 

Yes, but in our daily lives and in our worship, we should not let Christmas intrude on Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas Day and ends on Christmas Eve.

Anticipation 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Luke 10:29 - The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

This month’s communion offering will benefit the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund. On any Thursday afternoon if you come by the church you will see a variety of people from our community who need a helping hand. I’d like to tell you about a couple of people who have been helped by this fund. One is a young lady who was recently laid off.

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

The season of Advent will begin Sunday. We begin Advent with the Hanging of the Greens, and I hope that you will find this service meaningful. It is fascinating to me to know the origin of so many traditions that we have today...

Thank you, thank you, thank you to each person who helped and supported this years’ Youth Spaghetti Supper! This event would not be possible without all of your support. As we make the transition from Thanksgiving to Advent to Christmas, I want to say how blessed my family and I are to be serving right along side you here at FUMC Dyersburg.

Glimpses of Grace & Truth...Fellow UMC pastor, Ken, told how a young parishioner shows us the simple message of Christmas. Kimberly, age five, was very secretive about the part she was playing in her church’s Christmas program, but her mother was sure it was the main part. 

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

It’s hard to believe that this coming Sunday, November 26th, is Christ the King Sunday. What is Christ the King Sunday you might ask? This is the last Sunday of the church year. You know that the church year varies from the calendar year. We begin and end at different times than the calendar year. 

Thanksgiving, No Matter What...Thanksgiving is conditional, right? I mean, the idea of giving thanks, of being thankful, suggests that I have been given something to be thankful for. If we are given a plate of pancakes for breakfast or given a Christmas gift, our parents taught us to say “Thank you.” With that in mind, it seems like being thankful depends on how much I have to be thankful for. Or does it?

Giving Thanks 

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1
This week will be full of fellowship and food for many of us, but that is not the case for everyone. One of our lectionary passages this week comes out of 1 Timothy and this verse reminds us to pray for and give thanks for all people.

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

Preparing for the return of Jesus 

“Then Jesus began by telling them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, saying, I am He, and they will deceive many.” Mark 13:5-6
Last week we looked at the promise of the return of Jesus. We talked about awaiting the return and LIVING in that promise. This week I want to look at the events that Jesus said are to come leading up to His return.

Grace and Peace Brothers and Sisters, 

“Directly opposite to this is the gospel of Christ. Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.” (John Wesley’s 1739 edition of Hymns and sacred Poems) 

When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

We are preparing for the New Year! The new Christian Year that is. Advent will be here in just a few short weeks. As you know, this is one of the busiest times of the year at church. I want to invite you to take part in the life of our church this Advent. There are many opportunities to serve, help others, and grow in the love of Christ and the Church. We will soon be decorating the sanctuary for Advent; the annual Youth Spaghetti Supper is coming up; Reelfoot Toy Drive.. the list goes on and on. Get plugged in this upcoming season to the many areas of service opportunities here at First Church. 

Awaiting the Return of Jesus 

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28. Our lectionary reading for this week comes from Hebrews 9:24-28, from these verses we see a glimpse of the work Jesus did on the cross, the work He continually does on our behalf in the presence of the Father,

Glimpses of Grace and Truth...“Investing for Time and Eternity”—Sounds like a catchy title, but most would admit that when we hear that, we think it's about money. For sure, “investing” usually is about money. But investing is much more; it includes all the resources God entrusts to us: our time, talents, and treasures. Years ago, a pastor challenged a group of us, saying, “If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400, but it carried no balance from day to day, allowed you to keep no cash in your account, then every evening canceled anything you hadn’t used that day, what would you do?” We agreed we’d use every single penny. 

Church Family, 

I cannot begin to thank you enough for making our retreat to Fyrne Lake a huge success! In the coming weeks you will be receiving more information about our upcoming events. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

May God Bless You, Brian, Mary, Brylee, & Holland Funderburk

Why Do We Celebrate All Saints Day? 

Shared with you by the FUMC Worship Team 

November 1 is All Saints’ Day, but this date is not nearly as well known as the day before, “All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve,” better known as Halloween. This Sunday, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day during our morning worship service.