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Tag Archive | "South Ensley UMC"

Gift of Peace


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township 

Too often we end the holiday season completely drained, both emotionally and physically. We then tend to call on God to refresh us, to restore our vigor and our lives to “normal.” But what if we were to ask God for restoration along the way? What if we planned into our busy holiday schedules time to draw closer to the reason for our celebrations? What if we were to decide now to have a spirit of peace despite the overwhelming pressure to live up to expectations to get the right gift, make all the parties, host dinners, send the cards, etc? That is what I would like to suggest.

During this special time, let’s decide not to let the pressures mount up but instead let the Child whose birth we are celebrating bring us the gift of Peace. We prepare our homes for the celebration by decorating so why not prepare our hearts for the celebration of our Lord’s birth, not with hectic lives but with hearts of peace and love. After all, the song says: “Love came down at Christmas” not to challenge us to get the right tree, but to have a spirit of peace and love that shows through the craziness of the world. One of my family’s traditions is to have a Christmas ornament hang in the house all year around. This reminds us not just at Christmas time but all through the year of the wonderful gift of Christmas. Sometimes I think we need this reminder in December most of all!

Another good reason for this approach is that many of our neighbors need something from us this time of year and if we are too wound up in our own schedules, we may miss it. Some have lost loved ones; for some this may be their first Christmas without someone close that they have lost. Others may not have heat, or power, or food. It seems every year our Ministerial association finds out about someone who has no heat or food, but hasn’t told anyone. If we checked up on our neighbors, we might learn about the need and find those who can help. But if we don’t check, we don’t know. If you are in need, don’t be too proud to ask for help, it is limited but it is out there. And if you are feeling lonely this season, check out your local church, we would love to spend some time with you! We will not be waiting at the door with a signup sheet for work that needs to be done and we will not hand you a membership form before you sit down. We will however extend to you the love and grace of Jesus and welcome you in God’s name. My family and our church families wish all of you a truly blessed and merry Christmas!

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Stone Soup


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township 

 

You may have heard the story of Stone Soup in one form or another. A poor man or peddler comes into a village and goes door-to-door asking for food. At each house he is turned away with the occupant saying that they only have a small portion of potatoes or carrots or something else, never more than one thing and never much. The man goes to the town square and starts a fire under a pot of water into which he places a stone. As the townsfolk come along and ask what he is doing, he says he is making stone soup. The people offer the small items they all have and soon the whole community is sharing in a pot of wonderful soup made of all their bits. In a way, that is how we take care of each other even today.

We, in the faith community think (for the most part) that this is a good way to do things—together. There are many small churches in the area that do all they can for the community they serve. But when we get together and pool our resources, we can do so much more. And it doesn’t stop there. The same works for individuals.

Churches are asked often to help those who are struggling and what a great blessing it is when a number of individuals who have no ability to give monetarily to a church are willing to give of their time and talents to make a difference for their neighbors in need! So much is accomplished by these wonderful people! We may not have a lot to give, but what we do have can make a huge difference in the lives of our communities.

How often have you heard or said yourself “I’m only one person, what can I do?” The truth is—a lot! None of us knows everything—despite what my uncle claims about himself! But we all know something. I used to work in construction and it took an awful lot of us to put together a building. Electricians, heating people, plumbers, carpenters, and the list goes on. If we had tried to do the job alone, we would never have finished and if we had, well… I’m not sure I’d want to live in it! But all of us together made something that will last a long, long time. The same is true of all of us.

Together we can make a difference that will last a long, long time. Helping those in need in the name of Christ makes a difference in the world. And that is what we are supposed to do. Just remember that when you do something for someone else out of the goodness of your heart and in the name of Christ, you are not alone! God is with you and so are all of us who are brothers and sisters in Him.

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A Special October celebration


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC

65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC 

13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

This month we have a very special day to celebrate. No, I don’t mean Halloween! In October we celebrate the “Children’s Sabbath,” a time to recognize and celebrate our kids as the gift from God that they are. There has been a lot of dispute over the role of children in some churches and how to keep them involved. The old axiom that “Children are the future of the church” is no longer the truth. The real truth is that children are our church. They are here now and are a wonderful part of celebrating our faith. We are instructed several times in God’s word to pass on our faith to each generation. Paul celebrates Timothy’s faith being passed down from Grandmother to Mother to Timothy (2 Timothy 1).

I have personally seen the gruffest man ever smile at the happiness and enthusiasm of a child. They are happy, and eager to learn. It seems to me that we could learn something from them. What would our celebrations of faith look like if we were to be as enthusiastic as a child? Willing to sing and celebrate? Too often I feel that we don’t celebrate our faith enough; it sometimes seems to be a task instead of a joyous celebration. I’ve seen a child have fun for hours with nothing but an empty cardboard box. Shouldn’t we be even happier with a risen Savior? Just something to think about! May God bless your hearts and homes with the joy of a happy child!

 

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“Our Father who art in heaven” The mystery of prayer


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC

 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC 

13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

Familiar words to some and a mystery to others. What is all this stuff about praying anyway? And what is prayer? I have been asked a number of times about prayer. Three questions seem to stand out. 

How can God hear so many people all at once? It’s because God exists in a way that we can’t understand. He is able to do things that make no sense to us. But His word tells us that He hears us and answers our prayers. It is a matter of faith to trust His word. But we need to remember that when our prayers are answered, that is proof our prayers were indeed heard and answered by God.

Who am I to communicate with the God of the universe? Well, in His own words, we are the children of the Living God. I cannot imagine going through life never speaking with my earthly father, and in the same way I cannot imagine going through life not communicating with my Heavenly Father. The bible tells us in the book of James, “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.”

The most often asked question is simply, “How do I pray?  Prayer is simply having a conversation with our Lord. In Matthew chapter 6 starting in verse 9 Jesus teaches us how to pray when asked the same question. We don’t need to use those exact words every time, but the way the prayer is formed is a good pattern to follow. We sometimes use little tricks to help us form our prayers such as the acronym “ACTS.” Adoration – recognizing that God is the creator of all and praising Him for all of His amazing works. Confession – admitting that we are in need of a Savior and that we are sinners who seek forgiveness. Thanksgiving – even when we feel we have little to be thankful for, God seems to reveal blessings in our lives; we use this time to recognize this and to thank Him for all he does for us. Supplication -is when we ask God to answer our prayers for the things that we ask of Him.

One thing that I try to remind people is that one of the most important parts of a close relationship is communication. We really do need to communicate with one another and also with our God. St. Patrick once wrote that he found himself praying as many as a hundred times a day and almost as many at night. That sounds like a lot and most of us would think that we would run out of things to say, but that brings up another important point. Part of communication is listening. We need to hear what the other person is saying, especially if we are talking to God! We so often pray for guidance and answers, but we don’t bother to listen for those answers! Praying is really just communicating with God. And there is no special place, position, words or anything else. The important thing is to “just do it.”. If you have more questions, ask your pastor. And if you don’t have one, I’m sure there is one nearby, ask a friend or just drop in to your local church.

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The good, the bad, and the grace


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC

65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC

 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

 

It was a dark and stormy night. Really! We were in one of our most beloved places in creation, our family church camp on Lake Michigan. Usually it is the most relaxing and joyful place. Except this night. I had recently undergone surgery to reattach my bicep and my arm was infected. And so, we found ourselves in the emergency room in Grand Rapids. I was miserable and I’m sure I was lousy company. As we sat in the waiting room, my wife suddenly said that the police were bringing in a man that she recognized. She went to see what was up and was told that he had attempted suicide. When I was settled, she went to talk to the man. She found out that he felt hopeless and wanted to end it. She began to minister to him and before I left the ER, she had convinced him to seek counseling and had helped him to arrange it.

So what does this have to do with you? Good question!

I didn’t want to be where I was. I was miserable and would have rather been just about anywhere other than a hospital. But even there God made himself real. In Romans 8:28 we read: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). It sounds good, but what does it mean to me? God used a bad situation and made it good. That night, a man’s life was saved! He made himself real to me, my wife, and the man who was struggling so.

The infection was a real thing, and God did not cause it. Could he have stopped it? Yes. So why didn’t he? Because God sees things that we cannot. Had he stopped it, I, and my wife, would not have been there when this man was looking for help. Could God have intervened without us? Absolutely, but he allowed us to be his hands, feet and voice to this man. In Acts 8:26-40, Phillip is told to go into the desert and to run after a man in a chariot. And after his encounter with the man, he is swept away to preach somewhere else. God knows when and where we are needed. And it’s not always where we want to be. Although I am the preacher in the family, it was my wife who provided the needed ministry there. God calls everyone to be ministers, not just people with titles. That seems scary to a lot of people, but God is in control and as long as you let him guide you, you’ll do just fine! Don’t worry about what to say, God will provide the words, and besides, silent presence can be just as important.

The third person in this little story was the man. In his way, he was calling out for help. And faithful to his word, God heard him and answered him. What an awesome God! He hears us wherever we are and whatever we have gotten ourselves into. And he answers!

Unfortunately, we don’t always get to see the good that may come from every situation we find ourselves in. But even if we don’t see these results, that’s a part of faith, knowing that God is there and in control, even when we may not notice Him.

So next time you find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, keep your eye peeled for God in action, you may be surprised at what you discover!

 

 

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