Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Growing a Legacy

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” 
-Nelson Henderson

How does his garden grow?
A life-long United Methodist from Eastern Washington woke up one day to a painful sense that “his days may be numbered.”  After the death of his beloved wife and near-second heart attack (which resulted in bypass surgery) he began to reflect deeply on the people and things that mattered most to him.  One of the things that gave his life great joy was caring for his church’s gardens and grounds

While he loved the church gardens, he began to worry about who would care for them after he no longer could.  He also worried about the financial burden that maintaining the grounds in his absence would place on the church.  He decided to approach the United Methodist Foundation of the Northwest to seed a small endowment fund to care for the gardens and grounds after his death.  (The endowment was funded from a 401K plan that, following his wife’s death, was no longer needed. In addition it carried a tax liability if left to his children.)

The Seeds Grow!
As grace would have it, after more than ten years since he first planted the endowment, this faithful friend is still tending the church’s land!  Now, both the grounds and the endowment are flourishing – the latter holds over $120,000 and it continues to grow!  This friend has magnified his joy knowing that he’s helping his church to thrive and his little “Eden” to remain a glimpse of God’s kingdom in perpetuity.

What sort of a legacy would you like to grow?
What are those ministries, people, and places that matter most to you?  What will they need to thrive when you’re no longer around to help care for them?  While only you can answer the first question, people from our church’s endowment committee and from the United Methodist Foundation of the Northwest can help you to answer the second.  You don’t have to be rich to grow a caring legacy; these creative, thoughtful people can help you to use whatever God has entrusted to you to be a life-giving blessing for years and years to come. 

May the seeds that God has sown bring abundant life to you
and to those who matter most to you!

---Tom Wilson, UM Foundation NW Texas Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

“Time to Shed”

In Anchorage the streets are finally getting clear of snow and so are the sidewalks and yards. It won't be long until all the snow is gone if the warm weather keeps coming. At our house another activity happens at this time of year: shedding. Scout has collected this very thick winter coat that has kept him warm and now it has to come off. Unlike my coat that is neat and clean to remove - his coat comes off in clumps and lumps left everywhere.

This shedding got me to thinking about the seasons of our lives. There are times when we must shed things that are no longer necessary. Shedding isn't always a neat process. There are those things that we just don't want to let go of. Things that we prefer to continue to carry around with us. It seems to me that at the end of the Lenten season, it really is a good time for us to take stock of those things that need to be shed and work to remove them so we can move ahead without the burden of unnecessary weights.

When I think about our churches, there is some shedding that needs to happen as well. We are being called to shed our old ways, our insider language, our inward focus, our shallow discipleship.... Once we truly shed our old ways we will be light and agile and able to respond to opportunities to be the church in t
he world. We will have the scales from our eyes removed so we can truly see the world, notice where God is working and then join in.

I never look forward to the "shedding" season at our house. For the dog or myself. However, once the day arrives when all the old is shed, there is a sleek new look to our dog. The dog is actually a lot thinner without the winter coat. The same is true for us - when we remove the old ways that have been keeping us from going forward, then we also have a sleek new look and outlook on the world and what it means to be a faithful disciple.

-- By Leila Disburg, The Aurora Witness, April 2011
God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, May 14, 2012


And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. --LUKE 10: 25-37

For four years Harley resided in a health care center. Stricken with Parkinson's disease, confined to a wheel¬chair, eyes closed much of the time, head bent down, he sat day after day. Harley's world became reduced to listening. I visited him several times a week during those years, fed him occasionally, and spoke constantly. Sometimes he would chuckle; sometimes he would add a word or two. I found myself telling him things that I have never told anyone before or since. Jesus said, "Whoever listens."

Listening has to do with giving and receiving. It is hard to do. Our agendas-work to do, calls to make-fill our lives, minds, and hearts. We even know how to listen with our ears while our minds consider other topics. But our wan¬dering eyes and unwelcoming body language give us away. Often we come to prayer more ready to speak than to listen.

The lawyer rises in his self-importance. To whom is he listening? Whom does he hope will listen? He comes with his own agenda and all the right answers. But Jesus invites him to hear and to think in a new way. Will the lawyer listen?

"But wanting to justify himself," the lawyer pushes on. How does our need for self-justification interfere with our listening?

We all long to be listened to. God does too. And God is patient. And God does speak-in the rustling grass, rain on the roof, blowing breezes, morning bird songs, the voice of a friend, a letter in the mailbox. All of creation reveals God's nature. At its deepest level, listening is soul responding to soul. Listen. God is speaking.

Generous God, thank you for listening to us attentively, expectantly, and compassionately. Bless us this day with these gifts that we might be your listening people. Amen.

-Mel Johnson

God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, May 7, 2012

Forgive My Heart

You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.    -- Acts 8: 21-23 (NIV)

Then Peter came and said to him, 'Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
-- Matthew 18: 21-22 (NRSV)

When I was younger, I was in an armed robbery. The robbers put me on the floor; they used duct tape, bound me, left me on the floor and threatened to kill me. The trauma from this robbery stays with me to this very day. After many years, I was asked to participate in Kairos' Prison Ministry, which brings the love of Christ to incarcerated men and women. At first, I resisted going; I was not prepared. How could I go to prison? Would I see the robbers in prison? As I searched my heart, I found the anger, bitterness, and hatred for the robbers. I wanted revenge. I couldn't go into this ministry with my heart so cold. Could I get my heart right?

God started asking me questions. Did I want the robbers to die? No. Did I want the robbers to go to hell? No. How could I claim to be a Christian and have those thoughts?

As a Christian, I am a human and I have lots of thoughts I shouldn't. God is still working on me and I'm not perfect, but a work in progress. Could I give my issues to God and let him heal me? Yes, but it was a struggle to give my anger, bitterness, and hatred to God, so he could heal me. If God could heal me, could he also heal the robbers? Yes, he could.

Did I want the robbers to know the love of God? Absolutely! Did I want the robbers to know God's forgiveness? This question is something I tussled with.

God's grace was big enough to forgive sins, but that meant my sins. God has forgiven me, why would I want to selfishly keep his forgiveness to myself? I found I didn't want to keep his forgiveness to myself. With each question and answer, God was changing my heart, and I began to feel the joy of sharing Christ's love with others regardless of the circumstances and I had to let go of what had happened to me. I was a little nervous as we entered the prison, but I knew the love of Christ would out shine my nervousness.

-- Robin Claris, MS Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Imagine That!

READ 2 SAMUEL 11:1-15

It is a story embroiled in violation, adultery, misplaced loyalties, arrogance, deception, and murder. It is a stark, understated account of a king who abuses power, whose moral fabric is beginning to unravel. And it is a story about a woman who becomes a victim of the king's abusive power. We know little about her, only her name and that she is beautiful. We do not know what she thinks or feels; she says nothing.

Another person in this story is Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba. He is the foil, the sharp contrast to all that dismays us about the great King David. In contrast to David who stays home when he should be with others on the battlefield, Uriah goes out to save his community. He lives out his commitment fully and wholly by denying himself nourishment and pleasure, his identification with other soldiers so complete. He is honest, faithful, trusting, courageous. (The king himself depends on one with these values to keep his kingdom and power intact!) But in the end, Uriah's integrity does not guarantee his safety or shield him from danger. He is the one who loses his life. He seems to have been powerless in contrast to the great King David. Or maybe not.

Perhaps this story is God's way of challenging us to imagine that commitment and compassion are not weakness and that the ability to command and oppress is not strength.

God of strength and wisdom, lend me your vulnerability and compassion. Amen.

---Mary Donovan Turner, Encounter

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer