The Columns – May 2016

Leadership

What makes work worthwhile? What makes relationships fulfilling?

A positive atmosphere. With so many things conspiring against healthy relationships, a positive atmosphere will not happen by chance but by choice. In Philippians 1:3-5 Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Can you imagine receiving a letter like this from your supervisor? Think how good that would make you feel, how you would respond positively to your supervisor and how you would want to live into that high praise.

It all begins with appreciation. We know it is important so we train our children to say ‘Thank You’ when they receive a gift or a compliment. It is expected as good manners in society and business. Remember this: No one has to do anything for you, or buy from your company. It is by their choice. To say Thank You is to acknowledge that choice and the person’s generosity toward you and your company. When Amway opened their new headquarters they opened by throwing a party for all the construction, plumbing, electrical, roofing, HVAC, etc. workers who built their new building. I doubt that they had ever experienced such a grand gesture of appreciation of a job well done. Who could you throw a party for?

Ken Blanchard encourages managers to find people doing something right and giving them a ‘One Minute Praise‘. A One Minute Praise is when you find a person doing something well and you take time to tell them 1) specifically what a good job they are doing, 2) how it helps the company, 3) how that makes you feel, and 4) that you have confidence in their abilities. Then you seal it to their memory with a handshake or pat on the back. You can go one step further and acknowledge their work before their peers. That will make them feel ten feet tall.

To create a positive atmosphere use carrots of praise. Carrots generate more enthusiasm than sticks. Without Thank Yous the well of kindness, generosity, effort and initiative can dry up. People don’t only like thank yous; they need them.

DR. JONATHAN BECK • Executive Pastor • jbeck@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/men@jonathanbeck

UPCOMING EVENTS
Global Leadership Summit • August 11-12
Sporting Clays Tournament • August 28, 2016
Hunters for the Hungry – Clean Out Your Freezer Day • September 25, 2016

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The Columns – May 2016

SteadfastServant1
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It was a great honor for me to interview my friend and one of this year’s Steadfast Servants, Kay Ferguson. Not only is she deserving of this award, she is humble and I am proud to call her a friend!

Kay began attending First UMC in 2003 when she and her husband, Joe moved to Shreveport. Joe’s parents were long time members and they joined them in church. Kay remembers sitting in Faithlink one Sunday morning and just asking God what He wanted her to do. Initially, she was looking for a way to connect to the church and find her purpose. She was really trying to find her way to serve so she started saying yes to different areas in the church. Slowly, it began to evolve over time and one thing led to another.

First, she began serving with the prayer ministry and was the lay leader for the ministry. She helped with the Pray for the Cure event. She also served on the women’s ministry during that time. Kay has been a member of UMW for several years including being a circle leader and the UMW co-president in 2013-2014. Kay also served a term on the church council. Kay and her husband, Joe were greeters for a while, as well! They are also leaders in the LifeSpeak Sunday School class. Just when you think there’s not much more for her to do…she will surprise you!

Most recently, Kay is serving as the lay leader for the Global Missions team with Ashley Goad. She took her first mission trip to Haiti in 2013 and fell in love with global missions. She says her heart is global missions. She is inspired by the people she serves with because they become like a mission team family. She said you just get to know people on a deeper level when you are serving alongside someone. Kay also says that the people she meets in other countries inspire her. She says there are mothers who live in the poorest parts of the world, yet they are full of hope and joy. Their love of Jesus and their faith is incredible. Kay truly loves the relationship building aspect of global missions.

Kay also enjoys the travel to other countries. She never understood what “1 body of Christ” meant until she saw it in person in other parts of the world. She has been to Haiti three times, Ecuador two times, and El Salvador once. She likes getting to a new country and being fully immersed in the culture. It is not always the shiny, pretty, resort destinations you see on TV when you are serving.

Kay has been transformed and blessed by serving. She says she has always been a worrier and been pretty selfish (although I disagree). Gradually over the years, serving has helped her realize it’s not all about her. Serving others puts things into perspective about what is important and what’s not. It makes her realize that she doesn’t want “things,” but wants to do more with her life. She says other cultures are so content and it inspires her to live more simply. She also knows that she wouldn’t be able to attend these trips without the support and prayers of her husband, parents, and Joe’s mom, Linda. Not all of her family understands her travel to other countries, but they do support, help, and pray for her and she is so thankful for that.

Another reason she is a steadfast servant is because she knows it is her duty to serve others and has been called by God to serve. She wants to leave a legacy for her son, Joseph. She wants him to see their family serving others in hopes that he will carry it on in his life.

Kay has been married to Joe for 16 years and they have one son, Joseph who is five.

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The Columns – May 2016

Mens

Have you ever faced a decision in life that you just didn’t know what to do and froze? Have you ever tried to help someone else make the right decision and ended up frustrated? Let’s take a look at Joshua who was a great and decisive leader. Why was he able to be so bold? How did he lead others?

Decisiveness in itself is not a virtue. We have all known people who are decisively wrong and like to make decisions without regard to others. Their goal is to control and get their own way. Joshua, on the other hand, had a decisiveness grounded in his relationship with God. The mantle of decisive leadership did not come to Joshua out of the blue. Joshua had been on Mount Sinai when Moses met with God. He was one of the spies who brought back a report from the Promised Land and wanted to follow God to claim it. Joshua’s decisiveness came out of a heart for God and character forged by God’s words. His confidence was grounded in his trust in God. He didn’t rely upon his own ability but upon God’s faithfulness, power and wisdom. It was out of this character that Joshua was able to confidently make decisions. With a God-given task and promise of God’s presence, Joshua could boldly move forward. What are your God-given tasks? Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would empower and guide you to accomplish what he has set before you.

Later, at the end of his life, Joshua called all of Israel together and challenged them to make a decision to follow God.
‘Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.’ Joshua 24:14-15

This reveals three important ways to help others be decisive. First, Joshua made very clear the choice that was before the Israelites. He didn’t beat around the bush or present only one side of the equation. In fact, he tells them that they need to ‘fear God’ and throw away any idols they have. He also recites options of different gods that they might choose. Clarity is a gift that we can give to others who are struggling to make a decision. We need to make clear the choices and the consequences. When we clarify what someone stands to gain, it makes it easier for him to make the right decision.

Second, Joshua understood the limits of his decision making. Anyone who has had young children knows this. There is a clear moment when the child realizes that they don’t have to do what their mommy says. The mommy realizes the same thing! That realization is that we make our own decisions and we can’t make decisions for other people. Joshua made sure they understood that they were responsible for themselves. ‘Choose for yourselves…’(Josh 24:15). Highlighting a person’s responsibility empowers them to be intentional and own their decisions. Conversely, it releases us from the anxiety of trying to control other people. If we live our lives for God and make decisions that we think are pleasing to Him, we can be at peace despite the chaos of other’s lives that surround us.

Third, we learn the power of example. Joshua’s decisiveness encouraged others to do the same. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”. Then the people answered… ”We too will serve the Lord because he is our God”(Josh 24:15, 18). Most people underestimate the power of their example. Your co-workers look to see how you are going to respond in a heated situation. They see you with a Bible, a verse on your wall, or an encouraging email from a Christian author – and they watch. They subconsciously think: ‘Does following God really help them in life? If it does, maybe I’ll try it.’ The decisions you make when the pressure is on will influence them. As Christians we are swimming against the cultural and ethical current of our day, but many people are hoping to find the strength to do the same. Don’t wait to see what others will do. Take the initiative. Seize the day. Set the example!

Help others be decisive to do what is right. Clarify their options. Recognize the power of their decisions. Lead by example. Be Decisive! God has gifted you and empowered you to do great things for him at work, at home and in the community. As Paul wrote, ‘We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do’(Eph 2:10). So ‘Be strong and courageous, …the LORD himself goes before you and will be with you’(Deut 31:7-8).

DR. JONATHAN BECK • Executive Pastor • jbeck@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/men@jonathanbeck

UPCOMING EVENTS
Global Leadership Summit • August 11-12
Sporting Clays Tournament • August 28, 2016

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The Columns – May 2016

GlobalMissions2
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This was the second time I have gone to Costa Rica but I can honestly say it was the best. I started the week as a senior in high school, and ended as an electrician! That’s not something everyone can say. I have a deep love and appreciation for the Costa Rica Mission Projects team. They are the ones who get this work done, and without them, we wouldn’t have opportunities in Costa Rica we have today. We also had the pleasure of spending Easter in Costa Rica and attending a service in the community of Pavones. The service was entirely in Spanish with no translator, but we were still able to celebrate one of the greatest Christian traditions with our Costa Rican family. That day was an excellent start to our trip, but it was through the church we stayed at in Tamarindo that impacted me the most. They held a service for us on Tuesday night that included signs made by the children we had been playing soccer with the night before. After they showed us the signs, the children did an interpretive dance to a song in English to share their gratitude. When it was done, I had to first pick my jaw up off the floor, then we prayed for a great work week. That would end up being an understatement! I had the task of being the foreman’s assistant for the week, and I believe I was his greatest test of patience! Speaking about a “Dora the Explorer” level of Spanish to someone who speaks about a “Dora” level of English was quite the challenge. But, it worked – whether it was wiring the walls, finding a very specific screw, or searching for the blue wire that may or may not have actually existed! I liked that Hugo would drop everything he was doing to show someone how to do his job the correct way. I also enjoyed his fascination with the monkeys! Someone would ask him for work, and he would insist they go see the monkeys instead of doing whatever he would have assigned them. He was a great partner and very kind. He would wait for me to find the right thing, even if that meant he would have to sit on the beam under the hot metal roof for 30 minutes. I am grateful and blessed enough that I could do this, and my week was capped off by jumping off the same waterfall as Tom Brady! I think everyone should experience Costa Rica because of its positive influence on my own life and the others who went on this trip. It taught me that my problems are often miniscule and irrelevant compared to those of the people of Costa Rica, and around the world. I would like to thank Dr. Ashley Goad for making these trips happen and bringing positive change to all of our lives. This trip cannot be rivaled, and I hope others will be able to appreciate that. Pura Vida.

ASHLEY GOAD • Director of Global Missions • agoad@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.org/globalfacebook.com/fumcglobal • @GlobalFUMCInstagram – GlobalFUMCvimeo.com/firstshreveport

UPCOMING GLOBAL MISSIONS & EVENTS
Russian Mission Trip • June 2016
Costa Rica Youth Mission Trip • July 9-16, 2016
Romania Partnership Development Trip • September 2016
Haiti Mission Trip • October 2016
Missions Launch Lunch • November 13, 2016
Ecuador Medical Mission Trip • November 19 – 26, 2016
Uganda Mission Trip • December 27, 2016 – January 6, 2017

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The Columns – May 2016

Discipleship

I recently found myself, reluctantly, in my car alone, driving 6 ½ hours so that I could add my physical presence to an already explosive family “situation.” I had the enthusiasm of Eeyore, no plan, and no good reason to participate, other than an unexplainable pull. Time did not clarify my purpose; it only provided the fertilizer for internal tension and dread. Reasoning, problem solving, talking about the issues, only made my mind murkier, like quicksand. The best plan I could devise after 3 hours was “Turn around, go home, and don’t answer the phone.”

As if on cue, that’s when sleet began to fall. And you know what happened? I stopped thinking. All my focus was on the driving task at hand. As I left the interstate to follow the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway, my mind went to a calm, safe place: the gentle tapping of the sleet, rhythmic swaying of majestic trees, birds and wildlife busying themselves. I felt small, perhaps not the solution broker for all great problems, and I finally thought to ask “God, what should I do?” And through that quiet fog in my mind, somewhere in the distance I heard Otis Redding’s voice. And he told me what to do.

I have my own unique relationship with God; we all do. He created each of us individuals with characteristics he chose. He knows how to reach me, when to reach me, where to reach me, because I am designed by him. He could have used a loud booming voice. He could have waited for me to stop and read scripture. But He has plenty of options. He’s been known to send messages through a bush, angels, the stars, the written word of a ghostly hand, a rooster, even my favorite, a donkey. So why not Otis Redding? (And no, I didn’t run off to the bay, but you do have the right song.)

I continued to listen. I heard a song about how hard it is to love someone who is mentally ill. I needed that reminder. Then a song whose title made me laugh. I’m glad God has a sense of humor; I needed that smile. As I listened, I drove closer to my destination. Tension again crept up as a most annoying truck, in the sleet, made my path difficult. “Turn right, Lori.” But that route is out of the way. “Turn right.” So I did.

God knows me and takes me where I need to go. When Jacob was outcast and alone, God met him in his time of distress and brought Heaven to him. (Let’s add dreams to the list of how God communicates.) God met me where I was and sent me on a side trip to a place that holds my heart, the place where I met my soulmate, the place where I learned, and learned to love. For me, the stadium I saw looming over the trees rose up toward Heaven, my ladder, and again I felt peace.

One more song helped me through the last 20 minutes of the trip. The words spoke of a constant, mysterious companion. I’ve got one of those. Thanks for always being there, God, and joining me as I journey into the unknown.

There is no happy ending to my story. No solution was found. Only miniscule progress was made, and that was the type that can be easily undone. Perhaps my effort was pointless, though at least I didn’t make the situation worse (or did I?). But later, I received a clarifying phone call. Months before, I had committed to mentoring a young family member as part of FUMC’s discipleship program. Apparently, I showed her that I would make the effort to support her and stand by her during a trying time. She didn’t need a solution; only to see me. That’s why God sent me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

“You are small. I am in control. Remain the same. I know what you need and will point you in that direction. So smile. I am your companion. I will guide you so that you can help another.” And this, to me, is discipleship.

MAY GROW OPPORTUNITIES
Memorize
• 1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Read
• Read through the Letter to the Ephesians. There are only six chapters to Ephesians. Read through this letter every week of May. Notice how much Paul speaks of his love for the Ephesians, how he prays for them, and the encouragement he writes. Throughout the month of May ask God how you could pour out love and encouragement in a new way to someone in your life.

Pray
• Pray for those attending the General Conference of the UMC, during May 10-20. Pray for wisdom, courage, and unity as they make decisions that impact the health and witness of our denomination worldwide. For more information: www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2016

Act
• Subscribe to an online devotional to receive daily, biblical inspiration. Try thewordfortoday.com.au or todaysdevotions.com/our-daily-bread

Lead
• Initiate conversation at the dinner table about what you are reading and learning from the Bible. If you live alone, do this when you go out with a friend.

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The Columns – May 2016

LocalMissions
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As followers of Jesus, the Mission of the Christian Service Program is to serve those in need with food, clothing and other resources in an atmosphere of Dignity, Love and Hope”

In March of 1970, Father Murray Clayton brought Sister Margaret McCaffrey to Shreveport from San Antonio, Texas. She rented an apartment in “The Bottoms” behind First United Methodist Church and began feeding hungry children breakfast before they went to school. This was the beginning of Christian Service, one of the first ministries in Shreveport to address the needs of those who are less fortunate and living on the fringes of our community.

Today, Christian Service continues this mission. The Hospitality House serves an average of 200 meals a day, 364 days a year, in a building which used to be the Freeman and Harris Restaurant. It provides a hot breakfast from 9:30am to 10:30am and a supper from 2:00pm-4:00pm. These meals are free, served to anyone who is hungry. In 2015 over 68,000 meals were served!!! Christian Service has a clothing closet where 450 people a month come to choose free clothes. Also they provide emergency assistance paying the last $100 of utility bills and housing expenses (if a person qualifies).

In 2014 Hope Connections, a collaboration of non-profits housed in the old United Tile building on Levy Street, invited Christian Service to become the food and clothing piece of this organization whose goal is to end homelessness in our area. Hope Connections has given Christian Service a 10,000 square foot warehouse adjacent to their facility. Currently, Christian Service is fund raising to be able to renovate this building to move all of its services to the Levy Street facility. Christian Service is extremely excited about this opportunity to upgrade its facilities and serve even more clients in our community.

Christian Service’s goal is to continue its mission to uphold the dignity and restore the strength of their neighbors in need in Northwest Louisiana. They plan to meet their clients’ immediate needs of food and clothing so that they may achieve their higher goals of education, meaningful work, and contributing to the community.

First United Methodist Church has been extremely supportive of Christian Service through the past forty-six years. Those who have benefited from these services are very grateful. We hope that First United Methodist will continue to support this exciting adventure in our community.

Contact Information
MICHELLE OSBORN • Director of Local Missions • mosborn@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.orgfacebook.com/fumclocal

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The Columns – May 2016

FaithLink

Psalm 103: 1-5 – “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, o my soul, and do not forget all His benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

I was in my office a few months ago when a friend of mine walked by. She couldn’t help but stop right at the entrance of my office when she heard me talking to someone. She slowly peeked inside my office, quickly scanned the room, and began to realize that I was “chatting it up” with none other than myself. I talk to myself out loud quite a bit, actually. I especially talk to myself when I’m trying to get several things done in a short amount of time. However, you will be relieved to hear that I do not answer myself – at least not as of yet.

If we’re honest, we probably all talk to ourselves to some extent. Some of us are goofy like me and speak audibly to ourselves, but everybody talks to themselves internally. Would you believe that nobody has a greater influence over you than you? If that is so, shouldn’t we at least learn to speak to our hearts in a way that leads to life? We may discover powerful moments of rising up above our circumstances, far above what we can see in the natural, and we will learn to choose, trust and follow Jesus. Daily, we need to be aligning our hearts with the very words of God. We need to remind our souls why we choose to bless the name of God, regardless of what comes our way. Getting our hearts and minds fully in sync with God takes intentionality and perseverance, but it is absolutely necessary. And as most things work with God, the blessings that come from fully abiding in His presence and adopting His thoughts and heart far outweighs all else.

It is my solemn prayer that our sole desire is to always bless the Lord with our entire being. Even on the days where joy and hope seem to be far from us, may God grant us the desire and strength to breathe life into our circumstances by speaking words of absolute truth. And, above all, may we never lose sight of the authority and power we’ve been granted through Christ Jesus to claim the victory that is ours over ALL things. For if our Savior has overcome the world in its entirety, we are indeed victors with Him. So go ahead and talk to yourself, but make sure you are speaking God’s truth to your heart.

God, give us great wisdom and incredible boldness to see and know who You are with each step we take. Guide our words, soften our hearts, and help us to bless Your beautiful name with every bit of our souls for all of our days. Amen.
“Bless the Lord, o you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, obedient to His spoken word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His ministers that do His will. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, o my soul.” – Psalm 103: 20-22

Contact Information
REV. DEREK JOYCE • Associate Pastor • djoyce@fumcshreveport.orgfaithlinkfumc.org

HEATHER GUNTER • Director of Contemporary Worship • hgunter@fumcshreveport.orgfaithlinkfumc.org

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The Columns – May 2016

GlobalMissions
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I am sitting in the Houston airport. I am dirty and tired. Ashley Goad has fearlessly led another team into the jungles of Costa Rica. My husband, James, and I decided we couldn’t wait anymore. It was time to jump into the unknown world of mission trips with our daughter Leslie, a 4th grader at South Highlands. We have two younger children so we both could not go with her. We decided a mother-daughter trip would be our maiden voyage. The preparations were simple enough – we packed our carry-ons and headed out. Little did we know that packing a bag was not the only preparation that we needed. We needed to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally.

We needed to prepare our hearts for the outpouring of love and devotion we received from the three different churches we visited. We needed to brace ourselves for the waves of emotion that threatened tears, brought on by the simplest but most sincere acts of kindness bestowed upon us by the residents of Tamarindo and La Campiña. These tiny remote farm communities embraced us as family, as family of Christ’s holy church. They prayed with us and prayed over us. They joked with us and worked beside us. We were brothers and sisters in Christ working together to complete the parsonage for the Iglesia Methodista in La Campiña. But most importantly we needed to prepare ourselves for the inevitable shift within that silent place deep, deep inside each of us that has yearned for something more. It is too early now for me to fully express or even understand what happened to me over the last seven days.

What I can say is that I left Shreveport with my daughter and five relative strangers and am returning with family and many new friends still in Costa Rica. It has been an intense week of laughter, tears, some blood and a lot of hard work and sweat, but as I look down the table at my new loved ones, I see a gentle loving father and compassionate doctor; a spiritual traveling leader filled with grace and patience; a quick witted, kind and brilliant comedian; a young lady so wise beyond her years she takes my breath away; a boy on the verge of becoming a great man with a head set squarely on his shoulders and eyes set on serving the Lord. Lastly I see Leslie and I pray that God gives her the strength and wisdom to truly understand the ways He worked within all of us this week. I guess what I am trying to say is that there was no way to prepare for what God had planned for us, and ultimately being unprepared was a blessing. Dios esta contigo.

Written by Catherine Hunter, a lifetime member of the “Thirty-Third Annual” founded and established by Jack Hiers, Sadie McGuire, Preston Willis, Spence Willis, Leslie Hunter and Ashley Goad in Costa Rica, March, 2016.

ASHLEY GOAD • Director of Global Missions • agoad@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.org/globalfacebook.com/fumcglobal • @GlobalFUMCInstagram – GlobalFUMCvimeo.com/firstshreveport

UPCOMING GLOBAL MISSIONS & EVENTS
Russian Mission Trip • February 13 – 23, 2016
Costa Rica Family Mission Trip • March 26 – April 2, 2016
Local & Global Missions Extravaganza • April 22, 2016
Haiti Mission Trip • May 27 – June 3, 2016 (REGISTER NOW!)
Russian Mission Trip • June 2016
Costa Rica Youth Mission Trip • July 9-16, 2016
Romania Partnership Development Trip • September 2016
Haiti Mission Trip • October 2016
Missions Launch Lunch • November 13, 2016
Ecuador Medical Mission Trip • November 19 – 26, 2016
Uganda Mission Trip • December 27, 2016 – January 6, 2017

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The Columns – May 2016

SteadfastServant2
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Article by Dottie Hogg
Dr. Gale Bridger, as a graduate of Louisiana Tech, moved to Shreveport, LA in 1960 where she started her career as an English teacher. She taught at Byrd High School and later at Captain Shreve and also studied for her doctorate which she received from Ole Miss twelve years into her teaching career. Dr. Bridger went on to teach at Louisiana State University, Shreveport, where she retired from teaching officially, though she had retired from other teaching positions twice before.

During the early stages of Dr. Bridger’s career and motherhood, her family faced the tragic loss of her husband, a member of the Special Forces, due to a military accident. She credits her son, Jeffrey, with leading her to First UMC, Shreveport as a young child. He wanted to join a large church and in the spring of 1964 they landed at First UMC where Jeffrey grew up and Dr. Bridger has served ever since.

Dr. Bridger’s first leadership experience was as a volunteer for Vacation Bible School and her love for serving the church grew from there. Since that time, she has led our congregation as a member of the Finance, Board of Trustees, Staff Parish Relations, and Celebrations committees. She was involved in two capital campaigns, chaired the Vision 2022, and digital sign committees as well as the Church Council, and was co-chair ad hoc for the columbarium committee. Dr. Bridger assisted with the Art in Worship book and has written for the Lenten Devotional Readings for several years. She is currently a member of the Emmett Hook Center Board, chairwoman of the Communications committee, and a teacher for Sunday School classes as well as several other adult groups. Her willingness to serve has been and still is a huge blessing to First UMC and our community as a whole.

As a child, Dr. Bridger recounts learning to “put her nickels and dimes” in the collection plate. She has since supported the church with her tithe and feels tithing is an integral part of who she is. She enjoys reading, movies, gardening, and especially travel. In her words, she “has toured most of this good planet and intends to keep doing so.” When speaking to Dr. Bridger, you know immediately about her love for her church. She loves to sit in the sanctuary, absorbing the beauty therein, and is great at describing that space in such a way that makes others want to do the same. She wants others to know First UMC as a family and encourages everyone to volunteer and serve with the gifts God has given.

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The Columns – May 2016

PatsPerspective

YOUR GREAT RESOURCE – FAITH
Rabbi Lewis Benstock told the story of a wealthy man who came to him desperate for help. The rabbi told him to have faith. “Have faith,” he said then got up and started to leave. The rabbi said, “You are going to help yourself. You have a great resource – faith.”

And then he told him a Chinese proverb. “Have you ever stopped to think how essential water is to life? Without water every living thing would die.” A panic stricken fish said, “I must find some water at once or I will be dead.” Where could he find water? The lake? River? The deepest place in the ocean? And so he asked an old wise fish, “Where can I find water?” “Water, why you are in it right now. You are in it in your own lake. And you’ve been in it since you were born.” The little fish swam back home, “I had water all the time and didn’t know it.”

So it is with faith. You don’t find faith; you have it by using the faith that you have. Your faith can lie unused. It can be covered up and not used. Why not begin to exercise your faith by utilizing it in a particular way?

In order to deepen your faith, go where it is. The Christian faith is more caught than it is taught. So go the church. Read the Bible. Associate with spiritual people, people who have a faith. You have to be careful about being around people of faith because it may rub off on you!

I would also suggest that if you want a stronger faith experiment with what you have learned. John Wesley once said, “If you want faith, preach faith until you get it.” You must act as if the whole gospel story were true. Never mind if you feel it is just too good to be true, never mind about your doubts, act as if you truly believe the words in the scriptures. Give thanks for the changes God is making in your life, even though you can’t see it happening. You might experiment with tithing or forgiving someone. The Christian faith begins the most exciting, amazing adventure and experiment in your life.

As you grow spiritually God’s love expands to your whole being. He then becomes your life. Martin Luther referred to this as the joyful exchange. Exchange your selfish egocentric self for one in which Jesus Christ is living his life in and through you.

If you want your faith to grow then why not be in worship on Sundays? You will be amazed at how your life will be changed as you begin to learn and experiment with your faith.

See you Sunday in church!

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