November 2019; this year has moved very quickly. In just a few weeks we will be into the season of Advent, yet there is still so much to be done this year. We will have our Miracle Sunday celebration on November 17. Ten days later we gather on Wednesday evening for our Thanksgiving Worship on November 27th. As we draw near to the end of the year we all have those things that we need to or want to get accomplished. Pastors and Church Leaders are no different. As Church leaders we want to look to see what God wants us to be doing now and in the year ahead. What we often lose track of is that God does not always call us to be doing things. Sometimes God just wants us to spend time with Him. I have seen that with my own family, I enjoy doing things with them but I just enjoy being with them. When we gather for worship we come to be with family and friends but we also come to be with God. We pray, which is talking to God, we sing, offering God our praises. We bring our gifts, tithes and offerings, not as our dues but as an act of worship and gratitude. Over the next 2 months as we close to the end of the year things will get busy; we will have a few special worship services, we will have a Children’s Program, a Thanksgiving Service, special times to remember loved ones we have lost as well as veterans and the persecuted Church. But in the midst of all of this we are still called to take time and just be with God. We will be having meetings to talk about finances and committee membership. We will be making plans for the upcoming year and how to reach people in the name of Jesus Christ but even with these meetings we are called to take time to be with God. It is sometimes the hardest part of being a Christian. We want to be doing things we want people to see how busy we are and how much we can or have accomplished but we forget to spend time with God, be it in prayer, study or personnel devotional time. We don’t sit still well in the quiet. While it has never been easy it has become harder with the advent of radio, TV, the internet and the many ways we can occupy our time. In Psalm 46 the Psalmist wrote “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” He began the Psalm saying “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. So often we call on God when everything seems to be going wrong, we say things like “Well I guess I could pray, nothing else seems to be helping.” When we don’t know what else to do, we pray, when it should be the first thing that we do. When we face a major problem and have not been learning to trust God through the small problems it is harder to trust God. Having faith takes practice, just like anything else that is worthwhile. As we have looked at the finances of Wesley UMC over the last few weeks as a part of our annual budgeting process some people are concerned about where our. I will admit it would be easy for me to be concerned but I have been serving churches, large and small for over 30 years. I have swerved when the economy has been strong and when it has been weak. The one thing I have seen consistently is that God is faithful. We can do our best to predict how things may trend but God has the resources that we need. When we trust God and are obedient to Him the finances will be provided. I have seen this in my personal life as well as in the Churches I have served. On three occasions in Seminary we were at a place where if we didn’t have a certain amount of money we were going to have to pack our belongings and go back to Wisconsin, we asked God to show us what to do and each time the resources we needed were provided an a miraculous way. One time God provided more than we asked for and the day the money came we also got a bill for the amount above what we asked God for. He knew our needs better than we did. We can trust God in everything.
A VIEW FROM THE HILL by Rev. Ethan L. Larson