Pastor's Page


Thoughts about summer attendance, changes

posted Jun 22, 2018, 11:28 AM by Bowmansville UMC

Spring and Summer has arrived it seems all at once in the glory of God coloring the earth!

The Bleeding Hearts, violets, irises, and milkweed are all coming up around Bowmansville UMC's garden, and from them, we realize our connectedness to this memorial garden in the name of Clifford (Cliffy) Sugg. MaryLee with the help of Joan Mariea plants and maintains these beautiful gardens, with glorious blooms for us to enjoy each spring & summer in his memory!

I ask you, how could we be more connected than to the land that Bowmansville UMC resides on and we as church members have been going to church and passing by these beautiful gardens now for many years! They are truly a blessing to God's beauty of the earth.

Our students and our faculty will by now be dismissed from the 2017-2018 school year and a long-awaited summertime break will commence! Music and cultural festivals all through the area will take up our weekends as we enjoy every second of warmth!

The fast pace of life will hopefully slow down a bit as the heat comes, (and hopefully the lawn mowing as well in hot weather).

Here at Bowmansville UMC, our few Sunday school people also take a break for the summer. It is a good chance to breathe in the breath of Sabbath and just come to worship our Lord and Savior.

However, Bowmansville UMC attendance in the summer historically takes a small plummet.  This can be a bit hard on us as a community in our spirits, bodies, and finances.

I want to encourage us as congregation to continue to commit to doing community together in attending events and worship. I am thinking about starting a visioning plan about Bowmansville UMC future, as well as the praying & caring for one another, as we do already, some new giving through service, and let’s just be hanging out with each other for some fun summertime activities!

The work continues on our rebuilding of our church steeple, and we are now on Facebook.com with weekly pictures and some messages about God's service to others and some prayerful thoughts. Here is one……

Maybe a new, separate and different style of church service for folks who NEVER knew church....on a week night or Sunday afternoon/mid-day. I am willing to do it as YOUR Pastor.

I don’t know but the Lord has placed me here with this on my heart with you fine folks here as the (holy) anchor of this church! This current young generation (mostly) doesn't know Christ...BUT survey after survey says that they consider themselves to be "spiritual" and want to be connected and serve and make a real difference in the world...somewhat like we already do here at Bowmansville UMC in all of our mission outreach. BUT there is much more to do....lets work on that with me your Pastor with a visioning plan. And if it doesn't work, well something else just might.....try and try again... (And PRAY Daily)

Something beautiful comes out of continually showing up for church service and singing together in service to the Lord. Make that Joyful noise…..

In faithfulness and love,

Pastor Jim

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FURTHER THOUGHTS


On Last Year’s Branches and This Year’s Fruit June 15, 2018 Genesis 25:21-23

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

CONSIDER THIS

Most everyone believes in prayer salutes the practice and generally supports the idea. And truth be told, at one point or another, everyone does pray. In the United States, we still live in the (dwindling) wake of Christendom, and most people over thirty can recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Becoming a person or a people of prayer—those who walk with God in a life of prayer—is another thing entirely.

The real biblical vision of prayer has been obscured by the overwhelming tide of casual prayer; the fruit of a church who “believes” in God but does not follow Jesus.

We see something of the biblical vision in today’s text. Isaac and Rebekah could not conceive a child. Welcome to the family of God, right?!

Just because God willed for Abraham to be the Father of a great nation did not mean it would come easy.

We as humans are prone to believe that if God wills a thing, it will come easy.

Scripture seems to prove just the opposite. The more God wills for a thing to happen, the greater the opposition and difficulty. God’s will cannot be thwarted, but it can be severely taxed by us humans.

Today’s text gives us a glimpse into the normative, non-casual life of prayer carried out by Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. Isaac’s prayers are answered and we move into difficulties in the pregnancy. Something disturbing was going on in Rebekah’s womb. We would turn to the ultrasound scanner.

Rebekah, we are told, “went to inquire of the Lord.” Note how the first impulse and immediate response is to seek the Lord in prayer. They do not turn first to human invention and innovation. They begin by seeking Divine intervention.

Prayer will either be our navigational operating system or the window dressing of an otherwise nominal faith. As much as we want to believe in a comfortably reasonable in-between space, I’m sorry to say it does not exist. Prayer will be consuming or it will be casual—everything or nothing. Our salutes and stated belief in prayer count for nothing. I say these things not to shame or condemn but to awaken.

In my own life I have lived through long periods of time where prayer was my navigational system only to let it slowly slip away into casual nothingness in other seasons. Instead of a piercing self honesty, I opted for the sloppy self-deception of self-assurance that last season’s efforts would somehow carry over into this season’s requirements. It doesn’t work that way.

I will forever remember a line from a sermon by a great man of God and leader of the Church, Dr. David Gyertson. He was preaching on biblical text, John 15, and while referencing the words in vv.2-3 on pruning, he said, “You will never get this year’s fruit off of last year’s branches.”

If I’m honest, and God knows I want to be, I need to proffer a confession. In early 1990’s I experienced a profound awakening to the presence and power of God. Along with this came the gift of a protracted season of intensive prayer. It was comprehensive and consuming and those branches produced an enormous amount of fruit in my life and work.

As I reflect on it, I think I have attempted to harvest fruit from those branches ever since. I never ceased praying, but I believe my prayer life has receded in those intervening decades. In the life of the indwelling Holy Spirit, there is no going back to the glory days of a bygone era, only pressing forward.

It is being revealed to me even now that the time has come to awaken again; to a new gift of prayer in a new season of life and work. Something tells me a pruning is long overdue in my life. The old branches (of my old job and a few hobbies) are dead and must be cast down so new growth can appear. This new growth will be, well …, new, unfamiliar, and maybe even uncomfortable growth in self. My present norms,

forms and methods of prayer (i.e. the old wineskins) cannot hold the new wine the Spirit desires to pour forth.

I will stop there before I mix in yet another metaphor; however, I believe this word may not only be for myself but others. My sense is there is a word of prophecy here for perhaps a few others or maybe for many. I will leave that with you.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. Thank you for always telling me the truth and further for telling me that the truth will set me free. Give me the gift of gut level honesty about where I am and have been, yes about sin, but more about casual faith. And open my eyes to the new things you want to do.

Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

Try this analogy from the tech world–is prayer in your life more like an “app” on your phone or is it the whole operating system?

Have you experienced periods of great awakening in your life to the things of God accompanied by surges in your life of prayer?

Have those times, despite their blessings, ever been a hindrance in going forward to new and greater things?

Is your vision of future possibilities of personal or even large scale awakening limited by what has happened in the past?

What might pruning look like in your life going forward?

Are you prepared to let go of what “worked” in the past and to go back to square one again?

PRAY!

Pastor Jim.(with analogies from The Seedbed)



We Join the Outsiders (Acts Chapter 8:26-39)

posted Jun 2, 2018, 7:05 PM by Bowmansville UMC


Recently Discipleship Ministries adopted a new campaign slogan, “See All the People”

(http://www.seeallthepeople.org/)

I appreciate many things about this campaign: the catchiness of this phrase, drawn from a simple children’s rhyme, the call upon disciples in the United Methodist Church to see those in need, those who might look different, those whom some have rejected.

The encouragement to move our ministries outside the walls of our churches and into the places in our communities where people gather.

The campaign is about doing more than seeing all the people.

It is about calling upon disciples, like Philip, to jump into the heart of whatever situation we find people. Jump in there, even if it is messy. Jump in there, even if it is dangerous. Jump in there, even if it is costly to us. Jump in there, even if some might judge it to be irreverent or unholy.

Get in there with the lost, the lonely, the forgotten people of the world.

Go physically into the places and spaces people who don’t yet know the saving love of Christ inhabit and share the good news!


Christians in Gaza

One of the things people who have not traveled to the Holy Land may not realize is that if you are a Christian living in what we call the lands of Israel and Palestine, you are most likely of Palestinian descent. Most Christians in Palestine live in the West Bank today. But a small number of Christians live in the Gaza Strip as well. On my recent trip to the Holy Land this last winter with Bishop Mark, I was there this last winter and seen much of this personally for three days! We talked with many living there.

Today there are about 1300 Christians living in the Gaza Strip

We’ve heard the Scripture story read, (see Acts 8:26-39) but let’s take a moment to review it this Easter Season, for there are clear on the issues at stake for Philip. (Note that this is not Philip the Apostle. This is Philip the Evangelist, who was chosen along with Stephen and the rest of the “seven” to care for the poor in Jerusalem.)

An angel of the Lord directs Philip to leave Jerusalem and go to Gaza. Yes, THAT Gaza, which dislocated in the part of the Palestinian Territories known today as the Gaza Strip. So Philip headed out. On the road to Gaza he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch who happened to be the treasurer of the queen’s court who was returning from a visit to the temple in Jerusalem.

This eunuch is Jewish, a product of the strong Jewish community in his home country of Ethiopia (a faith community that continues to thrive to this day). This is why he is reading the book of Isaiah.

Now this in itself is worth pondering. He is clearly an educated man. Not only is he in charge of the entire treasury of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, but he is literate and he possesses a personal copy of the Hebrew Scriptures.

But as a eunuch, this would have been a person who was ritually unclean and therefore prohibited from entering the Temple. Please note that this man a eunuch must have been a man of great faith, to have gone all this way to visit the temple where he could not go in. No one would have talked to him there because he was unclean.

This is the scenario, then, in which Philip, at the Spirit’s prompting, stops his journey in order to ask if the eunuch understood what he was reading in the book of Isaiah, and the eunuch invited him to climb into the chariot to join him in an impromptu Bible study.

I don’t have all the answers. I have the one true hope. I have the promises of Jesus.

I have faith that the Holy Spirit connects us in mysterious ways, and that this connection continues into the life that is to come. That is our HOPE as Christians it is just FAITH in the promise of JESUS.

Is it okay to say that as a pastor? Is it okay to admit we don’t have all the answers BUT we have FAITH!

BUT we have the strong hope in Jesus the Christ who was our substitute in death for us all….and HE conquered death for us all!

It is perhaps more helpful to just engage in the questions people have right where they are?

Can we try to be open and listen as people reach to find their own answers?

The fact that we have Philip reaching how to respond to the eunuch, who is an unclean man, is radical.

And the fact that Philip not only talks to him, but climbs into the chariot with him, is an act of radical discipleship. He risks his own ritual cleanliness by putting himself in close proximity to the eunuch. It is through this act of radical outreach with no concern for what it might cost him that the eunuch is transformed.

Being available for impromptu Bible studies is a witness to the faith.

Being willing to climb into the chariot with the “unclean,” the confused, the different, the lost, the hurt, the doubters, the cast-off, the angry, the needy, the scared, the dying, and indeed, any person who looks or feels or believes or acts differently from the way we do is a very real and present need in our communities. And it is a witness to the faith.

How often do we do this? How frequently do we risk putting our bodies, our reputations, our health and well-being, our time, our faith, our own long-held beliefs on the line in order to respond to the need of another?

The Spirit leads Philip to assume the posture of Jesus. He gets into the chariot with the guy.

He sees him. He touches him. He engages the questions he has about the scriptures.

He doesn’t reject him, as all the others have done, probably all his life.

He accepts him, listens to him, and offers himself in loving response without a specific purpose or agenda, other than to share his thoughts and his personal experience. As Philip and the eunuch study the passage together, Philip is able to open the scriptures to the eunuch in a new way, through the lens of his own faith experience through Jesus Christ.

We too have to be willing to join the Spirit in its work, going where the Spirit leads us and listening deeply with not our own ears, but Christ’s. The sign of God is when we are led where we did not plan to go.

Bold discipleship means puts ourselves at the disposal of the Holy Spirit for as long as we are needed, only to be snatched away to another part of our journey when this same Spirit leads us to serve somewhere else.

Say the name. See the person.

Befriend the marginalized. Welcome the unclean.

Embrace those whom society has rejected for whatever reason.

That’s the power of the Spirit of Christ we see here.

Who are we refusing to touch, see, embrace, love, accept, welcome?

Who is the world rejecting that we can, in the power of the Spirit, reach towards?

How can we, like Philip, offer the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ (however it is understood) to those who come to us seeking to study and have conversation about the challenges of life in all the ways they present themselves?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true church, apostolic and universal, whose holy faith let us now declare...

In HIS name, Jesus the Christ,

Pastor Jim


Spring time plowing......Easter and beyond!

posted Apr 19, 2018, 6:25 PM by Bowmansville UMC

As a young boy on my grandfather’s large farm in Millers, near Lyndonville NY I watched him plow fields that had never been cultivated. On the first pass the plowshare would turn the soil and along with the dirt, up would come large rocks that he hauled away. Then, he would plow the field again, and then again, to further break up the soil. With each pass the plow turned up other, smaller rocks that he cast aside. The process continued, requiring many passes through the field.

Growth in grace can look like a similar process.

When we first become believers, some “big” sins may be exposed. We confess them to God and accept His forgiveness. But as the years pass by, and as God’s Word passes through us and sinks into our innermost being, the Holy Spirit brings other sins to the surface. Sins of the spirit once thought to be mere peccadilloes—small, seemingly unimportant offenses—are revealed as ugly, ruinous attitudes and actions. Sins like pride, self-pity, complaining, pettiness, prejudice, spite, self-serving indulgence.

God reveals each sin so He can cast it aside. He reveals to heal. When harmful hidden attitudes come to the surface, we can pray as the psalmist David did, “For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great” (Psalm 25:11).

Humbling exposure, though painful, is good for the soul. It’s one of the ways in which GOD “instructs sinners in his ways.” He “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vv. 8-9).

PRAYER-Thank You, Lord, that You remember us according to Your love. Instruct us and guide us. Teach us to live as those who have been forgiven much.

God’s desire to cleanse us of our sins should be matched by our desire for that cleansing. In Psalm 139 David reflects, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vv. 23-24).

His prayer expresses a longing for the cleansing and restoration that can only come from God. John echoes that invitation in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

And Jesus Himself stands ready to help. John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). What a great promise!

Is unconfessed sin hindering your relationship with the Father? He stands ready to forgive!

Pastor Jim


Ten Things to be Thankful for......

posted Apr 3, 2018, 9:53 AM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Apr 3, 2018, 3:24 PM ]

“If you believe one-tenth of what you say you believe you should be ten times more excited than you are.”

And I ask myself the question: Where and why do we fall short?

Maybe it’s this . . .

– We fail to remember that being called “believers” means we “believe.”

– We fail to remember what it is we believe.

– And we fail to give thanks.

We believe that God gave.

And we received.

And when we receive a gift, what should be our natural response? Thanksgiving.

God has given us numerous gifts for which we can be eternally grateful.


Here are TEN to start out with.

#1 – God’s Son

“Our Savior Jesus Christ. . . gave himself for us.” (Titus 2:14)

God’s Son wasn’t forced into being our Savior.

Jesus Christ gave Himself freely.

Why?

#2 – Forgiveness of Sins

“. . . that [we] might receive forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 26:18)

Each of us deserves the worst punishment imaginable for the filth of our sins.

Christ took it on Himself that we might receive forgiveness in its place.

#3 – Family Status

“As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God.”

(John 1:12)

We have received the right to be called the children of God.

We have the same family status as God’s own Son.

#4 – Grace

“. . . grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

God’s favor when we didn’t deserve it – when we deserves His DIS-favor – was so certain to be ours that He gave it to us long before He brought anything into existence.

#5 – the Holy Spirit

“. . . ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

The Spirit of truth indwells us, fills us, rebukes us, seals us, and produces His fruit through us.

#6 – Peace

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

Christ left us His peace.

It is ours – available and apart from any peace we could achieve from any other source.

#7 – Wisdom

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. . . and it shall be given.” (James 1:5)

When we need wisdom, we can ask for it. And He will give it willingly.

Again and again.

#8 – Victory over death.

“Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 15:57)

Because Christ rose from the dead, death will not have victory over us.

#9 – An Inheritance

“. . . that they may . . . receive an inheritance.” (Acts 26:18)

This inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, does not fade away, and is reserved in heaven for us.

We’re “joint heirs” with God’s own Son.

#10 – Everlasting Life

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Since we believe what we say we believe, let’s be more excited,

more joyful . . . more grateful.

Ten times more.


He is Risen!

posted Mar 27, 2018, 12:34 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Greetings in Christ!

He is Risen!

In a world of challenges such as we are facing today, isn’t it wonderful to know that we serve a risen Savior?

When Jesus arrived on the scene over 2,000 years ago things were much different than they are now in so many ways, yet the human heart is still very much the same now as it was then.

People were divided then as now as to “what” the answer is.

Those of us at Bowmansville UMC, who know Christ know that it’s less of a “what” question than a “who” question.

There’s a song written by Andrae Crouch that simply makes the statement that “Jesus is the answer for the world today.”

Even though that song was written a few years ago, Jesus is STILL the answer for this world!

While we are so thankful for the Cross of Christ, we must remember that it was the Resurrection only 3 days later that proved His sinless life and death on the Cross was valid and accepted by the Father as payment for Sin.

The Word of God tells us that through one man sin entered this world, yet it was through one man that sin’s penalty was dealt with! Romans 5:15 – “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”

As we enter the season we celebrate the Resurrection, may we never lose sight of the fact that Jesus came to deal with sin’s awful penalty.

It is through Him that we have freedom IF we receive that work He did for us!

We’ve received life so let’s be givers of life!

Use your words to bless and encourage one another, especially during this time that people are a bit more open to hearing the Good News of the Gospel!

May you and yours have a wonderful season of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ!

For we are Easter people……think about that….

In Him, Pastor Jim



Pastor Jim wonders......

posted Feb 26, 2018, 10:37 AM by Bowmansville UMC

Since we are in the Season of Lent, one of the questions I keep asking is....

“How can I think of Lent in a fresh way? How can I make Lent more than just giving up chocolate, pop, or some other habit we may have?”

One of the ideas I read was about how we address the gap between the cross on which Jesus hung at Golgotha and the empty cross that hangs in our sanctuary and in sanctuaries in most protestant churches.

The gap might be called Holy Saturday, the gap between the death of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus. Some theologians describe this time as a time of living in the between times of Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus’ return as promised to his disciples.

It is a time when Jesus has finished his work, but we do not see the fulfillment yet. It has a fancy name called “realized eschatology”. It is much like the end of World War II. The war was declared over, the documents signed; yet there were soldiers in isolated places who did not know and so the war continued for them until someone came and told them they could stop fighting.

We live in a time waiting for Jesus to come and rule over the kingdom. In the gap, we continue to live and wait. So maybe one question we might think about during Lent is, “How do we live in this gap?”

How do we live in a world filled with gaps caused by our own human brokenness and frailty?

What are the gaps in our lives that stop us from experiencing life in a more full and complete way?

How do we find life in the gaps of our lives? Is it through Christian fellowship? Well YES but maybe more… Is it living life and fellowship around other folks like the old saying goes…”Preach the Gospel….and use words ONLY when necessary”! Or maybe another cliché we use in prison ministry is …..”be the only bible another fellow may ever read!!!”

What if we all could lead lives that would make others question “WHY” we live our lives this way….and that doesn’t just mean going to church on Sundays, but our whole way of life of how we meet and greet others and how we interact with others helping them out in times of trouble, and in sharing of laughter also.

As your Pastor I try not to be “an old fogy” and get caught up in my old ways of what I THOUGHT a Christian was!!!!!......too many rules ….is a thought….

Jesus made it very clear what we are called to do as Christians is Serve others…and if needed…..use words…

May your Lenten time be blessed with an inner perspective of growth and wisdom in our Savior Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jim


What if we had Christmas in February?

posted Jan 26, 2018, 7:07 AM by Bowmansville UMC

I was wondering what this could mean for us in the shortest month of the year – which often feels like it drags on forever.

In the Book of Common Prayer, Christmas is extolled as a festival season and in the United Methodist Book of Worship, Christmas is extolled as a season of Praise and Thanksgiving for the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and that means more than only one day!

But, wait, there is more. The Birth of Christ was celebrated on December 25 but is truly only one of many of the events by which the church recognizes, truly by faith, the presence of God with us.

This festival season begins on December 25 and REALLY ends on Ash Wednesday – which is February 14 in 2018.

While the birth of our Savior opens the season, the Epiphany or “Manifestation” of God in Christ celebrates God’s Appearing and ties us to the Appearing of the Risen Christ AFTER Easter!

From the poverty of his birth, to the adoration of shepherds, to the mysterious gifts of the Magi, the texts of Christmas and Epiphany point us toward the mystery of God being revealed among us.

Through the season of Epiphany (which is truly a continuous journey which begins on Christmas Day), we receive the Baptism of our Lord, the Miracle of the Marriage Feast at Cana, the Call of the Disciples, the Sermon on the Mount, and many more stories of the manifestation of God with us.

Epiphany is a continuation of Christmas which celebrates the humbleness and hiddenness of God with us in our poverty and serves as a proclamation of God’s love coming alive – no longer limited to one nation, but announced for all humankind in every place and time. Praise God!

This is great news as well as “Good News" for you and me!

Christmas is alive and still ongoing. 

For those (few) who still have to take down their Christmas lights, trees, and decorations, this is great news.

For those who experience the length and coldness of winter days in this short month, we can wrap ourselves in the warmth of God’s Spirit revealing light and truth for all. (try keeping up your tree and lights longer!)

God knows we need more light, more truth, and more spirit of Joy in these winter days of February. We need Christmas to stay with us a little bit longer. Keep listening, looking and reaching for God’s presence and continuing manifestation this month. God is seeking us like the Magi sought our Savior.

Pastor Jim


Be a Salt Shaker

posted Jan 24, 2018, 10:52 AM by Bowmansville UMC


(partially from) Seedbed November 21, 2017

Colossians 4:5-6

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.


CONSIDER THIS....

When I was a young teenager I had the good fortune of discovering a treasure-trove of a book on my parents’ bookshelf. 
A whole lot of those books were bible-based stories and various levels of bible study, though I’m not exactly sure why I pulled it off the shelf and even less sure of why I read it, but of the fact that it changed my life I could not be more sure. The author of the book was Dale Carnegie, and you have already likely guessed the title, How To Win Friends and Influence People. I was influenced on how he treated mankind and how he also gave away his estate later on in life.-JB
I remember a lot about the book, though one lesson stands out and towers above the rest. “Become genuinely interested in other people.”  It’s what I hear when I read today’s text:-JB
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; 
By “be wise” Paul doesn’t mean, “be on your guard.” No, he means let your guard down. He means, don’t be about yourself. Be about them. It begins with Carneige’s rule: “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Why? Beyond the first step of noticing people, becoming genuinely interested in them is the posture of love. It lets them know they are, in fact, interesting.
Make the most of every opportunity.
What is the opportunity? I used to think the opportunity was to try and work in some way to share “the Gospel message” with them, which in retrospect looks more like trying to get people enlisted on my multi-level marketing discipleship pyramid scheme.
I think of the sharing the Gospel differently now. 
It’s more about the mystery than the messaging. You might have figured that the message of the Gospel is the mystery of Christ, and the mystery of Christ is Christ in us. 
To the extent I am attuned to “Christ in me,” I can be present to the person sitting across from me. 
To the extent I can be present to them, Christ will presence himself with us and the mystery will become manifest. As I become genuinely interested in another person, Jesus manifests his interest in them.
The opportunities are everywhere. The overwhelming majority of people in the world, outsiders or not, are not listened to. No-one leans into them and listens with genuine interest. This is what supernatural love looks like in ordinary clothes.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
I think of becoming genuinely interested in other people like salting a conversation. 
It brings out the flavor in them. It necessarily means becoming less interested in myself (a.k.a. less self-interested). What is it about salt that makes food so much more satisfying? 
Maybe we need to think more about passing the salt as it relates to what is on their plate and not so much about our own. Think about this statement-JB

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who is the salt of the Earth and who would so fill us with himself that we might become the same. 
Fill me with the fullness of Christ in my bearing toward others that I might become genuinely interested in them and that my interest could become an act of your love. We pray in Jesus name, amen.
 
Pastor Jim


This is God’s gift to you in 2018. Time.

posted Dec 29, 2017, 7:27 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Most, if not all of us, will get to enjoy this gift in its entirety. The question is, what will we do with it? How will you spend the time you are given in 2018? (hint-prayer) Others can guess a lot about us by how we spend our time. For people of Christian faith, the primary question is what God might say about us is by observing how we spend our time? A second question for reflection as we begin the New Year: how do you view time?

Wrap your mind around the incredible gift that time is a gift from God, equally, to each and every person and what a privilege it is to be given as stewardship of this gift!

The Apostle John quotes Jesus as saying, “I came that they may life and have it abundantly (or, “to the full”).” John 10:10.

Yes, when it comes to Jesus’ dream for us, living abundantly in that, Time is included in that statement.

Years later, in a short letter, the Apostle John wrote to a friend in Christ: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2

John’s words in his gospel and later letter give us insight into God’s desire for our lives: to live abundantly, healthy, and prosperously (this means far more than material prosperity). This takes having a plan and on January 7, we’ll begin looking at an essential element of such a plan for every follower of Christ. PRAYER

One by one, we’ll examine several ingredients of an abundant, healthy, and prosperous life in Christ, through our worship and in discipleship and through prayer in and out of our church building. 

We’ll look at what the Bible, and what various professionals in each field, have to say about how these elements contribute to living well, living faithfully, praying faithfully, and living fruitfully for Christ.

From one of my beloved verses of scripture I share this thought looking ahead, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11 (CEB)

Well, this letter began with the title TIME, and I will end with a calendar number that has personal significance for me as time flies by: 21.

I’ll tell you more about this on the 21th of January as I and my good wife Pastor Cheryl return from the Holy Land.

I pray that in 2018 we all prosper and experience good health, even as our souls prosper.

If you agree, invite others to join you on Sunday mornings here at Bowmansville UMC and in prayer/healing services on the first Thursday of every month here at 7:00pm. (Take time to pray in 2018!)

Pastor Jim



Advent - God comes to live with us

posted Dec 15, 2017, 9:26 PM by Bowmansville UMC

The season of Advent is here!  We’re back to the beginning of the church yearly cycle.  And I celebrate my Second Advent season among you as your pastor.  I look forward to all the trimming of Christmas in our Bowmansville Sanctuary and the brightness of God’s light into the world.  It feels so good to be here and be able to join you in this challenging adventure of ministry in Christ’s presence; for God is surely in our midst!

And here is the core certainty of the season of Advent:  God comes to live with us.

At this time of year when we speak of this spiritual reality that God actually living amongst us, it just rolls off our tongues without much thought.  What if we were to stop and really take in what this means?  It is nothing short of a radical message; a revelation of something totally unique in all human history.

When you think about Christianity, no other religion makes a similar claim; no other religion even suggests that their God physically enters human time and space to live amongst us.  Advent is the season we focus in on this part of our faith.

The four Lessons that lead us to celebrate Christ’s birth this year begin with the call to stay alert, for Christ’s coming will overtake us when we least expect it (Matthew 24:36-44). They speak of radical changes leading to a reordering of expectations (Isaiah 11:1-10).  By the third week we see how God will turn over the tables of the status quo in unexpected ways (Luke 1:39-56).  A humble Hebrew couple become the bearers of the promise.  And Joseph is included in the story as the humble servant, who in his kindness to Mary is granted a heavenly visitation.  Thus he fulfills his parental role to name the child, Jesus and take him as his boy in their home. (Matthew 1:18-25).

The Advent Lessons end by giving us another name for Jesus; he will be known as Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.  This is radical Good News for all generations. We can believe that God is high and lifted up, but as Christians we make another claim; our God lives amongst us.  Thus in humility we can pray: “Lord, I need your help today. I have much to do and cannot do it alone. Walk with me and be my wisdom and my strength.”

As we immerse ourselves in the season of Advent this year, let us put on the garments of humility which will make it possible for us to hear God speaking to us from unexpected places; even in the voice of a child.

Blessings and love to you all...

Pastor Jim


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