The Columns

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The Columns is your guide for how to Connect, Grow, Serve and Lead at First UMC, Shreveport. This page will become your resource of getting a digital flipbook version of the Columns every month!

The Columns – November

In all things, give thanks!

November Columns is up and ready for you to view!

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The Columns – October

Happy Fall Everyone!

October Columns is up and ready for you to view!

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The Columns – July 2016

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July Columns is up and ready for you to view!

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The Columns – June 2016

Happy June Everyone!

Starting this month, we are trying something new! Below you will have access to our new Columns flipbook each month! You can view it on your phone, tablet or computer!

 

The Columns – May 2016

Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May. Established as a yearly event in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, this day is a vital part of our history. It is a call to the citizens of the United States of America to unify through prayer as we seek God’s continued blessing and favor upon our nation giving thanks for the multitude of blessings which have been poured upon this country. On May 5th, at precisely 12:00 noon, citizens will gather for the reading of the 65th annual National Prayer. The theme for this year is ”Wake Up America” written by Dr. Tony Evans, 2016 Honorary Chairman, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to return to the God of Fathers in reverence for His Holy Name. The scripture chosen to further highlight the theme is Isaiah 58:1: “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet”.

The selected title and theme of this year’s prayer could not be more appropriate. It issues a present day warning to the American people alerting them to the fact that we have reached a defining moment, one which can profoundly determine our future. History reminds us that even as a very young institution, America was not unfamiliar with such pivotal moments. A similar time of unrest in our country’s history is evidenced by Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own”.

While there are many similarities between 1863 and the present, there is one glaring difference. We have not just forgotten God, we have deliberately removed Him. Not only have we taken prayer out of our schools and banned it from the public square, we have taken Him out of our government and are in the process of attempting to remove everything associated with Him, as many stand by in the name of political correctness. We have become one nation “above” God rather than “under” God. Fifty years ago, the most imminent threat to our country was communism; however, today secularism prevails and dominates in almost every sector of society with the major goal being to strip the country of its biblical values replacing it with Atheistic humanism. While truth and law were founded on the God of all creation, today, man denies this truth through his law and calls it “separation”. In addition, present day society holds an apparent deep-seated antagonism and hostility toward Christianity which is echoed by the media, the courts and the educational system. Almost unbelievably, America is being stripped of its Christian heritage from within, as those who profess their faith are publicly scorned.

America, Wake up! From the battlefields of terrorist attacks to the war on drugs, our collective minds are under spiritual siege. We are witnessing the rapid deterioration of a nation before our very eyes. Lincoln’s words are eerily appropriate for America’s present day emergency status: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” Our moral walls are down and we have failed to restrain the enemy of darkness.

In the face of a culture that disparages our God, it is imperative that we be bold and unafraid to speak out for the Lord and for His truth. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, or cowardice or fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:17).” Humbly and desperately, we are called to hit our knees and “to seek His face (2 Chronicles 7:14),” turning toward Him in repentance of anything contrary to His will. “Then” God says, “I will hear from heaven”,

promising to forgive our sin and heal our land. We must turn toward our God and away from that which is contrary to His will while remembering the words of Daniel, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” ( Daniel 11:32). My fellow American’s, wake up! We MUST respond to the alarm. It has been ringing for YEARS and we have pressed snooze one too many times. We have dozed back into slumber while the rulers of darkness continue to utilize accelerated force. We as God’s people must go to our Father remembering His words, “The government will be on His shoulder.” (Isaiah 9:6) while realizing that He has not abdicated His sovereignty in the affairs of men, but remains the Lord of history. Let us not grow weary, but know that we are to heed the scripture, “Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honor me (Psalm 50:15).”It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency (Lincoln, Abraham). We must not lose hope but remember (Timothy 2: 1-2), “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority.”

On May 5th, at 11”45 a.m. in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Shreveport, all people are invited to gather for the reading of the 65th National Day of Prayer. The recitation will create a huge wave of prayer flowing from coast to coast illustrating the unity of God’s people and acknowledging His dominion over the circumstances facing us. The National Prayer will be led by Bossier Mayor Lo Walker, with a special message from Dr. Pat Day. Additional Prayers will be offered specific to the needs of our nation and community Sheriff Steve Prator, Brig. Gen. Peyton Cole, Jr. (Retired), Sen. Mike Johnson, Ms. Africa Price, Dr. Philip Rozeman, Mr. Ross Barrett, and Mrs. Stacey Hargon. Special music will be provided by Mr. Ray Peebles and Ms. Brenda Wimberly.

Let us gather on May 5th, answering God’s call to be salt and light, united in prayer as we ask God to bring restoration and renewal to His people and to His church in these United States, remembering through our Father’s words that suffering and persecution will not destroy us, it will bless us. ” And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10).”

NATIONAL PRAYER by Dr. Tony Evans
Dear heavenly Father, we come to You today as a humble people desperate for Your supernatural intervention on behalf of our beloved nation. First, we thank You for all the blessings You have bestowed on our land, blessings that have allowed us to bring so much good and benefit to not only our own citizens but also to the rest of the world. The very ideals upon which this country was founded were based on biblical truths, no matter how some try to rewrite history to deny that very fact today.
This is why our hearts are so broken over how You continue to be marginalized and dismissed by both our people and our institutions. We are also saddened by the fact that Your people have contributed greatly to the spiritual apathy that now engulfs us. Our satisfaction in remaining religious without being fully committed to living out the truths of Your Word has caused us to become co-conspirators with the forces of evil that are destroying us as a society.
It is for this reason that we personally and collectively repent of our carnality and recommit ourselves to becoming visible and verbal disciples of Jesus Christ. Enable us, by Your Spirit, to no longer be secret agent Christians but rather to publicly declare and live out Your truth in a spirit of love so that You feel welcome in our country once again.
Thank You for Your promise to hear our prayers when we call to You with hearts of repentance and obedience, which is how we are appealing to You today, Father. On behalf of Your church, we affirm afresh the priority You are to us that You would fill every dimension of our lives as we seek to bring You glory through the advancement of Your kingdom in our personal lives, our family lives, and in the lives of our churches and our government leaders. We confidently invite heaven’s intervention into all the affairs of our nation and we praise You in advance for Your answer.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.

PRAYER FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE
A message from Terry Teykl: As we approach the upcoming gathering in Portland, we want members of local United Methodist congregations to actively participate in “Praying the Lord’s Prayer at Noon.” I believe progressives and conservatives and unlabeled disciples can pray this together. And the desired effect would be that God’s will would be done in all matters of General Conference. The cumulative and combined effect of thousands of United Methodists praying every day could turn the tide in our church and welcome His will in our denominational matters. Since the theme for General Conference is Matthew 28:19, our hope is a renewed church with a passion to reach people for Christ. – See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2015/11/lords-prayer-at-high-noon

Let’s do it!
Join me along with Terry in praying The Lord’s Prayer, 12:00 noon, daily beginning May 1st!

TOP TEN PRAYER REQUESTS FOR May
1. Pray for God’s will to prevail at the 2016 UMC General Conference, May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Pray for Dr. Day to have wisdom and influence in his role as a delegate.
2. Pray for guidance in the nomination of Bishops in the UMC for 2016.
3. Give thanks to God for the blessings he has provided for America and pray for revival in our nation.
4. Pray for healing for nations and individuals who have and are suffering at the hands of terrorists.
5. Pray for young adults in our community to seek a church home and grow in faith.
6. Pray for the cure for cancer.
7. Pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
8. Pray for our students to finish well in their studies this school year.
9. Pray for new graduates to have God’s peace and protection as they enter a new phase of life.
10. Pray for God to bring reconciliation and grace into strained relationships.

The Columns – May 2016

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When you go on a mission trip, you can be sure that God will manifest Himself in your life. What you can’t be sure of and what makes the experience that much more moving is exactly how He will choose to show Himself and change your life forever. Having just returned from my third trip to Costa Rica, I am reminded more than ever that you can’t even begin to predict God. We were building a parsonage for a pastor in a small community called La Campiña while staying at a church approximately 45 minutes away. The worksite and where we stayed allowed for much interaction with the local Costa Ricans, and while the labor itself was gratifying, it was interacting with the locals-the kindest, most hospitable I know-that impacted me the most. There were several children wandering about throughout the week: Caleb, Richard, and Alama, to name a few. Playing soccer with them, blowing bubbles, shooting marbles, and inventing new rules to UNO (which suspiciously always ended up with Caleb winning) despite the language barrier offered incredible insight into how we are called to interact as Christians. Even though we came from entirely different backgrounds and hardly spoke a word of each other’s language, the rules of soccer are universal. Laughter and pointing will clear up any miscommunications that might occur. Similarly, we should adapt this outlook in personal lives. In a day and age where tensions are high across the globe, it is important to remember that we are all one body through Christ and even though someone might not have the same background or be able to speak the same language as you doesn’t make either one better. We are equal in the eyes of God and should be able to put aside our differences because something unites us that is stronger and more wonderful than anything that could try to divide us. Playing with and getting the chance to love and be loved by these precious kids touched me to my core. Anyone, regardless of where they are in their faith journey has something to learn from a mission trip and I can guarantee you it won’t be what you expect.

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The Columns – May 2016

Womens

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

I was reading this scripture and wanted to put myself in the story, to see what it might have been like for the disciples when everything around them was chaos. Have you ever been there? Of course you have! We all live in chaos at times, whether in our role as friend, wife, mother, leader, or follower, things around us can seem totally out of control. And yes…it is frightening to us when we have no control over our lives.

I imagined myself as a small child sitting curled up next to Jesus in the stern of the boat. He was sleeping peacefully. The boat began to lurch and dip and twist as the wind grew stronger and the waves got bolder! The air was cold and the spray from the waves was washing over the sides of the boat. Water was beginning to flood the inside. I could see the looks on the disciples’ faces as their concern turned to terror and then close to panic. Their anxiety was great as they began to wonder, “How can he sleep when we’re in such danger?” Now the water was crashing over the sides like an angry tempest. Jesus still slept.

Suddenly, one of the disciples made his way to the stern and shook Jesus violently. He yelled at him to wake up! The storm was about to cause the boat to capsize. He cried, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I was watching all that took place, but didn’t feel their fear. Sitting next to Jesus I felt calm, though everything around me was crazy.

Jesus opened his eyes. He looked directly into the disciple’s eyes and slowly gathered his robe about him and began to rise. He held on to nothing! He was balanced even as the storm was tossing everyone else about. He gazed out on the horizon and simply said, “”Quiet! Be still!” He spoke plainly and deliberately but never raised his voice. His rebuke had peace in it. The wind stopped. The waves ceased. There was complete calm. I was thinking how awesome he was and how perfectly responsive nature was to his voice. I wanted to be like the wind and the waves that were obedient! When he spoke to his disciples, he marveled at their fear. He said to his disciples,

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

I had to stop and meditate on these words…let them really sink in. Here we are as his disciples today, living in the miracle of a post-resurrection world, and we still have no faith when the world is in chaos, when things are beyond our personal control.

The beautiful message that God gave me during this time of contemplation was simply this: “I don’t want you to be the wind or the waves. I want you to be the little child… stay close and just trust me.” Instead of stormy waters, His Peace washed over me.

Lord, give us more faith.

DEANA MITCHELL • Director of Women’s & Prayer Ministries • dmitchell@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/prayerfacebook.com/prayerfirstshreveport

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The Columns – May 2016

RecentEvents
REegghunt
Pig Roast Eggstravaganza!
Rain stopped and water began receding so FUMC families headed to the Rice Farm for a Pig Roast “Egg”stravaganza. The sun was gorgeous! No one had to wonder what was for lunch on Sunday, March 20th, because the Men’s Ministry provided pulled pork and hot dogs with all the trimmings – buns, potato salad, bar-b-que beans, pickles, and more. Children found hundreds of Easter eggs and all eight golden eggs during the gigantic Easter Egg Hunt. Olivia Zeagler made lots of children happy as she painted cute designs on their faces. The inflatables were a hit with all ages. And the pinatas – what a huge favorite! I hope there were scouts present from professional baseball teams, because in all areas, there were some hard hitters. Then once the candy fell to the ground, all you saw was a crowd of kiddos. One very precious moment was when children were wanting to share their candy and treasures with their friends. Way to go, parents! You are teaching your children to share in very special ways at special times. The Pig Roast “Egg”stravaganza was a wonderful family event that brought fellowship and fun, but it was also a great way to begin the Holy Week traditions of celebrating Jesus – His death and Resurrection.

REfloweringEaster
Palm Sunday & Flowering of the Cross

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Young at Heart GEMs
Fun was blooming at the Young at Heart GEMs Dinner and Dance in March. If smiles were an indication that our 96 guests enjoyed themselves, then I think they did. Dinner was yummy, games were fun, crafts were special, and the music was exciting. Thank you to our volunteers, nursery staff, and teens who made this night special. Plus, many thanks for the gift cards, persons who helped with decorating and to Ms. Velma and Ms. Diana for preparing the food.

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Deaf Community
The month of March was a busy time for First United Methodist’s Deaf Community! In February, we began planning for our March 20th special service presented by Expressions of Emmanuel. This group is a Christian Deaf ministry that strives to bring the Word of God to the Deaf through ASL Video projects. A large group attended with many deaf visitors. Afterwards, the group enjoyed a meal and fellowship time. Our Deaf Community members attended an interpreted Maundy Thursday service and Good Friday service, ate lunch at a local restaurant, and then visited three deaf individuals in retirement homes. April 15th at 5:30 p.m. we will have a potluck “Picnic in the Park” at Betty Virginia Park. Then, on May 20th at 5:30 p.m., we will have our last fellowship meeting until August. Come and join the fun!

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Costa Rica Family Mission Trip
Our mission trip to Costa Rica was an adventure I’ll never forget. Together our team shared some amazing experiences. We saw things covered in light, and things covered in darkness. Overall, I am definitely going to return for another trip.

Our mission was to make progress on a house that other teams had been building for a pastor in a community that is scattered right outside of a town named Tamarindo. We did not start working, because of difficulties, until Tuesday. Before that, all we could do was sit, listen, and observe. We observed the people, the town, and many other things. Through this, we saw the devastating circumstances of the people in this country – the barred up windows; the poverty; the fences covered with broken glass. But despite the pain the Costa Ricans may be in, they were always hospitable and forgiving. It was truly inspiring. I have learned many things from this country. With something as simple as a smile, the Costa Ricans have taught me so much. The fact that they have so little, yet they give amazing things – things you can’t learn in school, like patience, forgiveness, and gratitude.

This trip was a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and live the Word of God with my dad. I definitely will be back soon. By Preston Willis, son of Spence Willis, grandson of Fred Willis

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The Columns – May 2016

SteadfastServant

Eleanor Shuping is a vital part of our Stephen Ministry at First United Methodist Church. She has set up the training schedule for all new Stephen Ministers and she has been in charge of continuing education for all of our Stephen Ministers. Here is her Stephen Ministry story.

Ever since I was a teenager attending MYF meetings I felt the call to do something for God. As a Stephen Leader I have learned that many of our Stephen Ministers report that they also felt a calling. In 2008 our church decided to revive our Stephen Ministry. I knew how helpful it had been to a close friend and I had just retired so it seemed like the right time.

I was very impressed with the quality of the training that wedded sound psychological principles with church ministry, particularly the teachings of Paul. I learned to listen and care while walking with the care receiver much like Christ walks with us when we face hardships. God uses these hardships to bring us closer to Him.

I have had several care receivers. Some have struggled with physical issues, others relationship problems. I take Christ with me when I visit and I find that He often leads me to know what to say and do. I use God’s resources—the Bible, devotionals, and other resources that share God’s love.

After attending leadership training, I began developing the continuing education program for the existing Stephen Ministers. Every time we train new ministers I come to appreciate the strength of the program and the skills we learn. As a Stephen Minister I am growing in Christ as I care for others. We are all becoming more caring and Christlike in our other relationships.

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