Blogs by Faith

Why I Chose United Methodist and Itineracy

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’

He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
— Acts 1:6-8, NLT

I went to seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary, which is not Methodist, but Wesleyan. United Methodists was the largest denomination present of the student population. I had classmates who were also from the Nazarene church, Salvation Army church, American Orthodox Church, Free Methodist Church, and many other Wesleyan traditions. One common question I got from people who weren't United Methodist was why I wanted to be an Elder in the United Methodist Church and be a part of the Itineracy system.

What is the Itineracy?

I'll start by explaining what the Itineracy system is. The Itineracy can be defined as:

a distinctive pattern of deploying clergy for service in United Methodist congregations.
— www.gbhem.org

In other words, it's our appointment system where Elders (or those of us who have accepted the vows to preach and serve the sacraments) are appointed to churches every year. The thing that is most commonly misstated is when a person's appointment is to a new church or charge, people say, "He/She was reappointed," when a person moves. That is true, but every pastor that year was reappointed.

You see, our Bishop appoints every pastor every year, whether it be to the church he/she is currently serving or to a different church. No matter what, the person is appointed. The language that is more accurate is that the pastor was appointed to a new church or moved.

Why Did I Choose this System?

For so many, when you look at the system from the outside, it seems stressful and it feels like there's no rhyme or reason to things. But, I love our system. The reason I love it is because our Bishop looks at every church in our conference and prays about where God is leading the conference as a whole and each individual church. Then, he asks God for direction in where pastors should be in the coming year. He then speaks to his District Superintendents (D.S.) about the churches and pastors in their districts and how they are all doing.

This system reminds me that my work in the local church is important, but it is also a part of something bigger. The vow I took at commissions is to go where God sends me, when he feels it is time. Our system relies on the lay persons in each church to help carry the spirit of the church through the years and to guide us.

Transition

Bishop Graves, our resident bishop, spoke these words in his message to our conference yesterday,

I know for those moving and for those churches receiving a new pastor, this can be a stressful time. But instead of allowing the anxiety to overcome us, what would it look like to focus on the opportunity we have to live into God’s call for our personal ministry and for our churches? Change is always hard but it also presents a unique chance to start fresh and positively impact our local churches.
— Bishop David Graves, Apr. 24, 2017

You can watch all of Bishop Grave's message here. I'm praying for my future and your future. I'm praying that God will bless Navarre and bring forth new leaders through this time of change, helping the church stay strong. Ultimately, I'm praying for God's Kingdom on earth.

Blessings,
Faith


Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Dying Well

Do you never think about [death]? Why do you not? Are you never to die? Nay, it is appointed for all men to die. And what comes after? Only heaven or hell. Will the not thinking of death, put it farther off? No; not a day; not one hour.
— Rev. John Wesley, "A Word to an Unhappy Woman”

This might seem to be a strange post for Holy Week but I think it's a perfect one, because the reason we, as Methodist, die well, is because of Christ's death and resurrection. Let me back up and explain.

Living Like You're Dying

The early methodists were known as people who died well. They had grace and assurance of God's love and forgiveness for them, so they did not fear death. Furthermore, John Wesley (the founder of Methodism), made it a point to share the stories of those who died and went on to glory. Wesley knew that if we are going to die well, then we must live well. We must live every day honoring God so that we are ok if it is our last.

The country song "Live Like you are Dying" has it right in the title, but wrong in the words. It's not about taking extra vacations (although you should spend plenty of time with your family). We should live every day in a way that if we were to die, we would be proud of the lives we lived when we stood before God.

Lent and Easter

If you read my post on Lent, then you know that Lent is really about a time for us to mourn Christ's death. If you go to an Ash Wednesday service, you'll hear something like, "From ashes you came, and to ashes you will return. Repent and you will be forgiven." The point of this is to remember that we all will die one day.

When Holy Week comes (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday), we really crank things up. On Maundy Thursday, we relive Christ's last supper in different ways, then on Good Friday, many people go into mourning on an extreme level. Many churches cover the cross in their sanctuaries. The Catholic church always cover's the crucifix and it's the one time the Christ candle is burned out and the tabernacle is emptied. Christ has left the building.

But then, on Easter morning, Christ overcomes death and returns to life! For us as Christians, this is our reminder every year that when we die, our death isn't permanent. One day, we will be physically resurrected and rejoined with everyone we love in the life everlasting.

Ushering into Glory

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure to usher a young girl, just a few years younger than me, into glory with her family. I always consider this to be one of the most unique honors I have as a pastor because it's a living testimony of this girl's life. I get to listen to her family share of the life she lived for God and we get to ask God to welcome her into his loving arms. In the end, we pray that he will care for her until we all get to meet her again one day.

This is the hope of our faith. It's the most beautiful thing to watch people, who in their grief, still see God at work. I want to live my life in a way that people will look back on it and know that I spent every day dedicated to God. This was one of the things Wesley wrote in his death accounts, and I hope someone can say it about me when the Lord takes me home:

She was a woman of faith and prayer; in life and death adorning the doctrine of God her Saviour.
— John Wesley

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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Being Holy Spirit People

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
— John 14:15-30, NLT

Aren't we Holy Spirit People?

I'm not sure when it happened, but I think the Methodists have drifted from being Holy Spirit people. Before you stop reading, give me 5 minutes to make my case. Years ago, the Methodists were driven in every decision by the Holy Spirit. They were known in worship as being charismatic. We identified ourselves as equally honoring all three persons of the Trinity.

But somewhere along the way, our culture shifted. We started focusing on praying only in the name of Jesus and stopped talking to our children about the Holy Spirit. We have even dumbed-down the process of salvation to the phrase "Ask Jesus into your Heart." We have told people that their sinful life is ok because we are all sinners.

No, don't get me wrong. God loves us where we are in this moment. That's the incredible thing about Grace. But what's even more incredible is that he doesn't leave us where we are. He doesn't want us to be sinners, saved, that still act like sinners. He wants change.

The only way we can change our life is through the power of the Holy Sprit. The Holy Spirit which dwells within us gives us the power to commune with God. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome Satan's temptations. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to love others with a holy love.

What about Jesus?

You might be wondering right now where Jesus comes into this? The reason I think we've left the Holy Spirit out so much is because we don't want to think about the complicated nature of the Trinity. Jesus made it possible for God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit) to dwell within us. In the Old Testament, the Sprit is seen as a cloud. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, the Spirit now lives within us allowing us to commune directly with God. Jesus sits in heaven with the Father petitioning on our behalf.

There are some passages that make it sound that the Holy Spirit is Christ's Spirit, but according to our Trinitarian Theology, each person of the Trinity is unique and also God. That means, The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. Yet, all three are God. They act independently of each other and play their own roles.

How do we talk about it?

The first step to understanding the Holy Spirit is to not be afraid to talk about him (or her, whatever you prefer). You can ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength when you feel you are being temped. We should also talk about this with our children. Just because we adults have a hard time understanding the Trinity doesn't mean we should keep it from our kids. The sooner they start to hear about it, the sooner they will grasp it.

The Holy Spirit is the way God gives us power over sin in our life. We can use that power to live a holy life according to God's will. That's something children can understand.

Blessings,

Faith


Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

What's the Deal with Lent Anyway?

For many of us, Lent is a lost season in the church. I remember it as a kid in the Methodist Church as a time when people would talk about "giving up" strange things like chocolate or caffeine (who in their right mind would do either). But yet, I don't really remember much being said about Lent as a whole.

Mourn Before Death

It's a bit backwards, but Lent is actually a season of mourning for the church. It starts with Ash Wednesday. Many church have a special service where we put ashes on a person's forehead in the shape of a cross. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter.

I mentioned it's a bit backwards. You see, the church mourns before Christ's death, in anticipation of it. We know that on Good Friday we will "celebrate" Christ's death and that on Easter Sunday we will come together to rejoice in his resurrection. So that doesn't really leave much time for mourning. Therefore, the Christian church has historically from the very early days chosen to take time in remembrance of Christ's sacrifice to change pace in preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The 40 days comes from the 40 days Jesus himself spent in the wilderness fasting after his baptism alone with God:

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
— Matthew 3:16-4:2, NLT

The True Purpose

The reality is, we are supposed to change our pace of life during Lent. It's a time of year to us to purposefully stop and focus on all that God has done for us through Christ's sacrifice. It's a time to establish new spiritual habits (or disciplines) in our daily lives to deepen our relationship with God. The fasts are designed to slow down our lives and show us we need God.

As a church, we are going to be doing some things to help you change your pace during Lent. First, we will have an Ash Wednesday service. We are also going to offer a virtual study through email on prayer that will follow the model of the Lord's Prayer. It will be sent out every Friday. You can subscribe to the study below.

Blessings!

-Faith


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Drawing in my Bible

About a year or so ago, I stumbled upon this growing community of people who doodle, paint, sticker, and illustrate right in the pages of their Bible. I joined a Facebook group that was filled of people sharing their Biblical art. As I have watched, and attempted to learn myself, I have learned some things and thought I would share them with you.

Bible Journaling is About Expression Not Perfection

Acrylic Paint Scraping and Stickers

Acrylic Paint Scraping and Stickers

So, I'll just say that I am not a very good artist. I can't draw at all. So, I do a lot of tracing and such. As a perfectionist, I love that it isn't about making something perfect, but trying to find ways to express the scripture passage in a way that speaks to me. Sometimes things come out the way they are in my head and sometimes they don't. In the end, it's the interaction with the art and the scripture passage that matter. Art has been used as a form of worship for centuries. This is a new way to take art to a personal level.

I Can't Compare My Art to Someone Else

Stamps and Watercolor Pencils

Stamps and Watercolor Pencils

Worship is between me and God. When I am singing, I can't compare myself to someone else. The same is true when it comes to Biblical art (or any other form of art). The key for something being worship is us doing it for God, not others. As I watched people in the Facebook group I was in, I watched them struggle with not getting caught up with the approval of others. There is a difference in being encouraged by others and seeking people's affirmation. When we worship God, we only seek his affirmation.

It's a Learning Process

Pencil Tracing, Acrylic Paint Scraping, and White Pen

Pencil Tracing, Acrylic Paint Scraping, and White Pen

Every page I do is an opportunity to learn. On the last Friday of every month we gather together to learn new ways to interact with art and the scriptures through an instructional video then practice the techniques. When you do something for the first time, you're going to make mistakes. That's ok. It's a learning process. Learning what works for you, what you like, and what you don't like is what make things unique. Everyone has their own style and personality and that come out in art. Click Here to see what we are learning right now.

Vellum Printed by Computer Inserted in Bible

Vellum Printed by Computer Inserted in Bible

We have created a Navarre Facebook community for sharing and encouraging one another in the journaling of worshiping through Biblical art. If you're interested in getting started, or want to connect with others who love it, then join us. We're small, but everyone is enjoying learning this next form or worship and scripture interaction.

Happy Drawing!

Faith


Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.