November 2018

“Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask of you.” (Mark 10:35b) In the
Gospel of Mark, the Disciples are portrayed as an especially challenged
group of people. They seem to misunderstand a lot about Jesus, about
God, and our faith. In Mark 9:33-37 they show their competitive side as they
argue over who is the greatest among them, and even after this discussion
and the clear response of Jesus, in Mark 10:32-34, James and John, sons of
Zebedee come to ask that they might occupy positions of great honor
alongside Jesus. The disciples just don’t get it. They compete; they argue a
lot. And yet God is at work with them, and they grow to set the foundation
for our lives in faith and all the countless generations that followed. And
God c an be at work in us too.
Jesus also warns the disciples that the road or journey of discipleship is not
easy. It is worthwhile, the most worthwhile or best life we can put ourselves
to. The conflict that is revealed throughout the Bible (and there is a ton of
conflict) shows us that while we want to work together and to love each
other as God loves us all, we cannot avoid conflict. A good church is not
one that avoids or doesn’t have any conflict, but one that learns how to
process it faithfully. When we hide it, we risk suppressing it in unhealthy ways
that prevents growth, and it is likely to surface later in the worst ways. When
we trust God, trust the growth of God’s love in our hearts, and learn to trust
one another, it means that there will be conflict that we work out together
i n God’s guidance.
Among gifted, intelligent, diverse people who are passionate about receiving
God’s love and serving God, we will often see things differently. We can
work out and work through those differences to see a more complete picture,
developing deeper understanding together. Our world today seems so
fractured. Difficulties and challenges cannot prevent us from living our faith.
They certainly will not prevent God from being faithful with us. Such is the
witness of the cross and those sons of Zebedee. When challenges come, it
can be helpful to remember that they are often a sign of movement and
transformation.
As we approach a time of year in November of consecration in our dedication
and commitments to Christ through Time & Talent, and our Financial
giving, we know we all face many challenges, with many of the greatest
ones being the ones in our own hearts. We can’t be afraid of change and
transformation; or, like so many people today, even fear success because
we are too happy with what is comfortable, known, and under our control.
With Christ, we step out in faith. Please take a look at our list of ministries and
consider how God is calling you to serve in 2019. While on vacation, I was
finally able to read several books I’ve had and only skimmed through. In the
book, The God-Shaped Brain, I read a quote, “Love has nothing to do with
what you get; It’s what you are expected to give – which is (that means)
everything. – Anonymous

I thought of how Jesus took the misfit band of disciples and called them friends, partners in ministry (John 15:14-15). Jesus went further and taught that the bad actions we do are symptoms of the problems. We have often created a system designed to treat the symptom rather than the real problem. We have misdiagnosed our greater, or great-est problem. It is the fearful and selfish heart that is at the root of our sins. We need to accept God’s remedy for the underlying illness; our hearts and minds need to be healed by God’s love. Instead of seeking simply to have our mis-deeds pardoned and our sins appeased, we must allow God’s love to take control of our lives. We don’t earn our way to heaven; our faith is not a business transaction. Instead of filling our lives with lots of actions that only run us around in circles, we need to get closer to God in effective ways. “Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives, and remembering what one receives. – Alexandre Dumas Pere I pray that the month ahead is a time of deep renewal for us all, when we accept anew the great gift God has entrusted to us by faith. As Jesus entrusts us with his friendship, may we give him ours in return. – Tim

October Blog

                                                           Reflections on Christian Leadership

How would you describe leadership in our faith? What does it look and sound like? (The quick answer is Jesus; at
times he seems so far above us, we ask what does it look like for us?) In a recent meeting of some people working
hard to be leaders in our church, many asked why it is often so difficult to encourage and develop good leaders in
the church. Paul writes in II Timothy, “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
for God did not give us the spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline. Do not be
ashamed then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace… Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit.” II Timothy 1:6-9a, 13-14 When I look through the scriptures, a strong realization comes through that God holds leaders accountable for their work. It’s very challenging; the standards are high. The people who upset Jesus the most, the ones he was most critical of, were the leaders. What’s important isn’t just what we “do,” but also why we do it, our motivations (I Corinthians 13). So no wonder many of us may be reluctant at times to step forward. There are plenty of reasons we hesitate getting involved, giving our all, and staying committed to fulfilling our promises. And yet in some way, as believers in Christ, God calls us to be aware that we are, all of us, uniquely gifted in some small or large way to provide leadership in faith through our fellowship together. We all have God’s love to share, which is most empowering.
Our Challenges
We may feel under-appreciated, or even face constant criticism and lots of fault finding; remembering how much
God loves us provides the help and encouragement we need in building on the strengths we have. God’s love provides
a willingness to engage with people new to us, and to try new solutions. God’s Word gives us great strength.
When we fall short or “fail” at something, in Christ by grace we learn, grow, and mature from it. We trust God, believing that a resurrection comes even from betrayal and crucifixion, the way it did for the Disciples. Compassion teaches us that many people today are just down right heart broken and depressed. We can’t let someone’s depression or fears define our lives or the fellowship we share. With Christ at the center, we respond with real love, care and friendship, not letting one or a handful of people define who we are and what we do. The Church’s one foundation is Jesus, God’s love is central to our lives. We have wonderful leaders and members in Glossbrenner; the truth is also that everyone, all of us, also have our faults and sins. Criticism in thankless jobs, and the emotional heartache in disappointments that might even grow into arguments, are what Paul was writing about to Timothy and the Corinthians. So we are both challenged and very blessed to be invited to live by grace, while setting high standards that are built not on our accomplishments, but upon God’s generosity, God’s grace. Faith calls upon us all to take on responsibility without being overly controlling and demanding. We don’t “own” what we do; especially through baptism, our lives and the work in ministry we
share belong first to God.
Living Our Faith
When we think of good leadership, we do turn to Jesus and see a man who didn’t just give out a lot of orders, or
filled a to do list or wanted to “do” a lot. Yet he accomplished more than any other human being because he spent
time in prayer, devotions and scripture, and took time to listen and ask good questions. He spent a lot of time in enriching fellowship. We need to do the same, set the same priorities. We need the same commitment from all our
church leaders and all of our members too. It’s vital that meetings begin with a brief devotion, not just a prayer, but
also a word from God that reflects our devotional lives. This dynamic was an essential part of the early UB Church
and the Methodists; they made time for devotions, and it’s more vital for us today. Many of you know my story and
are probably tired of hearing; devotions literally saved my life. God wants us all to share in that gift.
I was with a group of people recently as we discussed our faith and fellowship, one person remarked, “It’s all about
the relationships.” Wow! I felt great; the lessons we’ve been sharing and trying to lift up in Disciple Bible Study, Stephen Ministry, and many, many other places like Sunday School and Bible study are being heard. It remains a great challenge to integrate our understanding into life. Yet we can grow and learn from mistakes and our sins; the misfit disciples did and were willing to be open to God’s possibilities as they trusted in God’s love and forgiveness. So with these thoughts and prayerful concerns in my mind and heart this fall, I put together a list that I share below. Please give me your feedback and thoughts. How can we strengthen our faith together?

Characteristics of Christian Leadership
Accept the gift of God’s Love and Forgiveness, keep it central to everything
Daily Time of Prayer and Devotions in the Word; Try to Hear and See through God’s Eyes
Believe and Live in Christ, Heaven, and the Resurrection
Intentional Sharing in Fellowship with other Christians; we cannot do this alone
Taking risks of heart and mind trusting God to help you and others grow
Remember always that our lives and the lives of the church belong first to God, not us
It doesn’t belong to any one family or group (including the Andermans)
Enter into what God is doing, don’t try to do it yourself and never all by yourself
Live in life-long learning, be open in creative awareness, always listening, ask lots of
questions (without interrogating) Always be prepared to be vulnerable in wise, careful ways; set healthy boundaries
What would you add to the list? One thing is certain about leadership today; the understanding of what it is has evolved dramatically over the last forty years. It is far less about controlling or dominating others as it was in the past. Yet some characteristics of leadership are timeless in faith, and require that we all aspire to them. Remember too, we can’t rely on our heritage in saying that just because our family took part, somehow we are entitled to status, or power, or control (Here again, I think of my own Anderman family). It’s all about God’s grace, love and generosity. Fall is here, I think of a recent devotion, “You were all called to travel the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.” Ephesians 4:4 Thank you all for your faithfulness; I pray and trust in the ways God will lead us all in the coming year. Thanks for reading; feel free to share your thoughts with me, and your faithful leadership in our fellowship. May we guard and share the good treasure entrusted to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit. – Tim

September Blog

As Christians, we live in a great balance between learning from the past, remembering,
reconnecting with past learning and understanding, and the
creativity of the possibilities of the future that God leads us into. Sometimes
there’s a lot of tension between the two dynamics. We are likely to be more
comfortable in what we know, and not move into something new. When
we let go too quickly to wisdom of the past, we end up having to do everything
from scratch, and backtracking, as we try to relearn what others who
went before us suffered or grew through. Having a good memory for what
works, and what doesn’t work is a great blessing to share. We want to remember
what Christ has done for us, and remember all the experiences of
Christians through the past 2,000 years.
Sometimes this approach goes too far, and we are confined, restricted so
that we are entombed or enslaved by the past and overzealous restrictions
that hold back new, healthy growth. We are made in the image of God;
God is a Creator, God is The Creator. Made in God’s image, we too are
creators (always remembering it’s with a small ‘c’). We often take the creativity
out of our lives, starting with children, telling them to only stay within the
lines that we establish. Wherever we are, we are often told to stay within the
lines of someone else’s outline, and told to learn, pray, play, and work within it.
Jesus Christ sets us free to live more closely and creatively with God. He
teaches us to overcome the total intimidation that so many people may
want to place in our lives, our minds and hearts. In Christ, we can live toward
God, with God first. What God says about us, what God tells us about
ourselves, provides great hope, strength, and empowerment. In Christ, we
receive a first-hand experience in our relationships with God, and the promise
of real salvation is fulfilled. In Christ, we learn that salvation is not a onetime
event, but part of a life-long process where God continues to lead us
to grow, deepen, and mature in our love. And we look for and are led to
seek new ways to commit and re-commit ourselves to that most important
relationship with God. In Christ, we are set free to be the original God made
us to be, and yet….
We are building on and learning from the past, living in the lessons for living
life fully. When we are close to Christ, we seek to follow him fully, and then
set a place for those who follow us. We are led away from focusing on ourselves,
and better prepared to make sacrifices that bless others in effective
ways. We are also prepared to share with those who will be here long after
we are long gone, as Jesus, and all the disciples who came before us have
done for us. I’m grateful for so many people who created a path for us all to live
and move through as disciples, and the ability to learn and grow from
their experiences. And I’m grateful for the empowerment to live creatively
as Jesus has taught us, and the Holy Spirit inspires us to do. As
the children are headed back to school and we begin another regular
season, we know we are faced with some challenges we didn’t
count on. Yet we trust that as God helped others in the past overcome
their challenges, God will help us see how God can turn them into
blessings and opportunities moving forward. There are creative solutions
to the challenges and disappointments we face. We are not
defined, confined, enslaved, or entombed by anger or bitterness; we
are set free by God’s creative power, revealed most fully in the Resurrection
of Jesus. Please join us in living the life of faith God through
Jesus Christ provides to all people everywhere. May we build on past
blessings and wisdom as we move forward in new, creative ways to
live our faith in dynamic ways together.
– Tim