Distractions

There is a town near Daytona Beach called Port Orange, and when you go down the main street, you would never know there are large companies and businesses all around.  The city mandates you can only have signs at a certain height, and there must be a tree buriers between the road and the industry.  There are a couple of reasons they have put this in place, one to continue the beauty of the city and two eliminate distractions.

Driving down highway 98, 90 or I-10 everywhere you look something, or someone is trying to get your attention.  You pull into a gas station, and the first thing that happens the TV screen on the pump starts advertising for Mountain Dew and telling me I could sure use a candy bar or a snack. You look anything up on, and before you can see anything, there is an Ad you can watch or skip in 5-4-3-2-1.  Facebook, Msn, Yahoo is the same way. One thing that aggravates me is when you are watching your favorite TV program, and it goes to commercial the sound gets 30% louder to make sure you are paying attention. Hate that. I understand this is the world we live in, and I love technology, but there is a time and place.  

It’s hard to believe that just 25 years ago Google was not a thing.  To travel there was a thing called “roadmaps” which got you to your destination.  Cell phones were beginning, and mostly the rich could afford them, and they were the size of shoeboxes. Hard to believe the operating system in our phones now is better than the computer, which navigated Apollo 13 back to earth. The unbelievable thing is people functioned. I know that is shocking.  Please understand I am not against any device, which makes our lives more accessible.  We all get anxiety when we lose our phone or our wallet, and when we find them, we have the big sigh of relief. But we cannot let them be the center of our universe. 

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!
— Mark 1:35-37

Even in Jesus’s day, he was trying to find solitude, and he was being pulled from every direction.  How many times have we turned off the radio, or sat down outside and just wanted to have some quiet time only to be pulled in a different direction?  

It’s the relationship we develop here and now with the father which will give us peace.

My devotional reads:  As you sit quietly in my Presence, remember that I am a God of abundance. I will never run out of resources; My capacity to bless you is unlimited.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus
— Philippians 4:19

It is not impossible to take out the distractions in our lives.  It just takes us focusing on what is essential.  Take the time to be in God’s presence. 

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Mike Conrad serves as our Worship Director. When he's not preparing for worship or playing an instrument, he enjoys spending time with his wife boating and fishing. Learn more about Mike here.

Best Camp Ever

Vacation Bible School

The first recorded Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Illinois in 1894. It enrolled forty students and lasted four weeks. 

Most churches do not have four week-long camps anymore, but most offer 3 to 5-day camps all over the place to invite children to have fun learning about Jesus.

It usually consists of:

  • Interactive up beat worship
  • Creative Bible stories
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Many include science experiments
  • High energy games
  • Some wonderful (usually exceptionally sweet) snack

Integrated into all that activity, kids are learning about Jesus, hanging out with a bunch of kids their own ages, and some very invested adults that just love them and Jesus.

Now if this sounds like a commercial for VBS – well it is (see below), and it’s not!

Yes, it is that time of year where we are looking for VBS volunteers to commit to our summer programs, and for parents to put our VBS dates on the summer calendars, but it is so much more. Vacation Bible has had one of the best track records for reaching kids and their families for Christ. 

The Southern Baptist convention reports that every year

  • 2.7 million people enrolled in VBS
  • 72, 925 faith decisions are made at VBS
  • 56,386 people per year join Sunday school/small groups as a result of attending VBS.

VBS is a ministry designed to reach people of all ages, leading them to know and respond to Jesus Christ. It is one of the greatest evangelistic weeks in the life of the church, and it is so much fun!!!

As you look for summer fun and activities, think about the potential lifelong impact that a week of Vacation Bible School has. Look at those statistics again. 

Vacation Bible School is still going strong. It provides an in your neighborhood camp experience that focuses on Jesus, and it is fun and impacting.

Join us at

Navarre United Methodist Church

9474 Navarre Parkway      

Navarre, Florida 32566

for

VBS 2018 – Shipwrecked – Rescued by Jesus

June 26-29 (Tuesday – Friday)    9-11:30 am

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Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.

Even Marvel Isn't Infallible

If you haven’t heard, this past weekend Marvel released the most anticipated movie of the year with Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel has done extremely well for themselves the past ten years with movies since launching Iron Man back in 2008. Infinity War makes the 19th movie in the so far three phase story line, which means 18 movies have been building up to this moment. I can’t think of any other movie franchise that has had this type of success or been this dedicated to one overarching storyline. 

However, not everything has been perfect. There are many who love to find the inconsistencies between the movies. There was a hidden easter egg in the original Thor of the Infinity Gauntlet located in Odin’s treasure room (so sorry for how nerdy that just sounded) that created issues for later writers and directors. There are plot holes, inconsistencies, and some bad logic that are ignored in an effort to make a better movie. This got me thinking though. If 19 movies, each that have hundreds of people working on them, can’t even get their stories straight within ten years, how did the 40 or so authors of the Bible manage to do such a good job over the course of 1500 years? And on top of that, before email, text messages or phone calls, even before the printing press. 

This is one of the things that I think helps Christians have a solid ground in apologetics. It’s not a nail in the coffin by any means, but the fact that we have a Bible that is as accurate and consistent as it is a pretty miraculous thing. Even though there are some inconsistencies in the Bible, most experts are ok with this because it shows a lack of intentionally corroborating stories. In other words, if all the stories were the same, people would be suspicious that they had worked together to figure out how to say it is making it a story rather than a witness account.  

Of course, there is the issue of confirmation bias, that is where you pay more attention to what confirms your beliefs than what challenges them. This is why we will often see things in the Christian community such as “Scientists find evidence that the Bible was right” or “The Bible claimed the Earth was round hundreds of years before scientists” or whatever else seems to prove that the Bible is right. You don’t see as many articles floating around in those communities with headlines of “Bible wrong about the sun standing still.” What this means for us as Christians though is that we tend to ignore those minor inconsistencies that we come across. 

So here’s my challenge for you. Stop ignoring the inconsistencies. Instead, embrace them and figure out why they are there. There is a really good reason why in 2 Samuel 24 it’s the Lord who incited David to take a census, but in 1 Chronicles it’s Satan (I won’t spoil it for you here). There’s personality in the various gospel accounts that when you understand them to make them that much better than if they all wrote the exact same thing. We tend to learn more when encountering the unexpected than just repeating what we’ve already understood.

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Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.

Fork In The Road

When the time comes, and you have to make a decision on which path you should take, what path will you choose? What choice will you make? We all have the times in our lives where we are faced with a choice, or the choice is made for us against what we actually thought was right. Or we make the wrong choice even though everything in us says we are screwing up. But, we look back and see how God was guiding our lives and letting us learn from our mistakes.

For me, in my 20’s I wanted to be playing drums on the road with a touring band, and I finally got the audition in Nashville I had hoped for.  If I got that job, my life would have been completely different. However, the night before I thought it would be ok if I drove 2 hours north to see a concert and drive back and sleep for 3 hours and drive for 4 hours for an audition.  I know I brought it all on myself.  But, that was a choice I made. And I admit not the best judgment. I see now how my path was altered because of the audition I botched.

Totally unprepared, thinking I could just go in and nail it.  I didn’t. I told the leader of the band he did not have to say a word if I were him I would not hire me.  Driving 4 hours back to my hometown was the longest drive of my life, and then to go back to all my friends and tell them I did not get the job. It was a huge dose of humility.

The next years of my life God guided me through a journey to prepare me for the rest of my life.  What was your fork in the road moment?  Or have had your moment yet?

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
— Ephesians 6:13 New International Version (NIV)

We have all made choices we regret or choices we would like to re-do or take a mulligan. (For all the golfers)

Years ago my mother and I had a conversation about when she was young. She grew up on a farm in Southeast Missouri.  Many times her dad would keep her out of school to help her brothers and sisters work the farm.  Times were hard, and they were doing their best to survive. During our conversations, she never was complaining just referring to it as hard work.  I spent summers working on the farm with my grandpa.  He would always get me up just before sunrise, and we would be working in the field’s right after sunrise.  I never heard him complain once, He had a job to do, and he was determined to accomplish it the best way he could. 

One of my favorite passages is “live the life worthy of your calling.”

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 
— Ephesians 4:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

Regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, or if you have had the “Fork in the Road” moment or not.  God urges you to live the life worthy of the calling you have received.  During this path you are on are you honoring God?
 

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Mike Conrad serves as our Worship Director. When he's not preparing for worship or playing an instrument, he enjoys spending time with his wife boating and fishing. Learn more about Mike here.

Should We Pray For Patience?

We have been encouraged not to pray for patience. If you pray for patience chances are that God will give you a challenge that is meant to grow your patience, and that sounds counterintuitive. So as I think about my need for more patience in my life, I dig further. I a look at my responses to life and I wonder how did I get so defensive and off course so quickly. Why wasn’t I willing to wait, study, pray, or think more?? 

Soon, I realized that I could not give myself a pass for being impatient. Being impatient is a symptom of a greater problem. When we get angry quickly, don’t show enough love, grace, kindness or compassion for the situation at hand, when we get weary and rash and feel like we are going under; it is not a lack of patience, it is a lack of love and trust.  Now that sounds harsh but hang with me for a minute. 

Look at the Bible stories where many of the characters got tired of waiting for God to act and took matters into their own hands (Genesis 16:1-15, Exodus 32: 1-10I Samuel 14: 1-14) to name a few who did not wait.. check out their consequences for not waiting… not good!). 
I look at the areas in my life where I have compromised by taking matters into my own hands. This is not just about being in a hurry; it ultimately comes from a lack of trust in God and His ways and His timing. 

We are conditions to have or expect immediate responses to life and its challenges, and questions. Many times the answer is ….Wait... Trust me (God).

Wait and see what I will do, wait and see how very much I love you. “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord
—   Psalm 27:14

When you get tired of waiting, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I in such a hurry? 
  2. Do I trust God to handle this in His way and His time? Why or why not?

Remember it is not about patience… it is about love and trusting God more!  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not onto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight
— Proverbs 3: 5, 6 
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Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.