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Let's Learn a Bible Verse!

If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around the neck and be thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42 GNT

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Announcements

Dec. 2022 Newsletter is now online

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Free Methodist Church Zoom Meeting - Report

On Sunday, December 4th, 2022 we heard from a representative of the Free Methodist Church organization. Rev. Jimmy Ellison spoke to 16 members of our church. He currently serves a church in Georgia, which he and his wife helped to found. He joined the Free Methodist Church in 2016, but was an elder in the UMC before that.

Ellison said that the Free Methodist broke off from the Methodist Church in 1860, because 15 pastors did not like to see churches selling favored pews and seating near the heater (wood stove, etc.) in the church. They were also abolitionists and opposed to enslavement of other human beings. The word Free refers to both situations.

The Free Methodists emphasizes evangelism, missionary work, and serving the marginalized people in a community. They have three Bishops in the United States, and 25 district superintendents. The organization is much smaller than the UMC. They currently have 856 worshiping congregations in the US organized into 25 Annual Conferences. There are 2-3 FMC churches in North Carolina at this time. There is more of a working-class atmosphere, constituency in the FMC than the UMC. Another difference is that the Pastor chairs the Church Administrative Board (Marsha M. was pleased to hear that!). Local churches help to choose their pastor by making a choice from a vetted list of pastors. The FMC favors longer appointments. Pastors are not guaranteed an appointment. Their apportionments cost is 9% of the operating costs of a church (mission, benevolence funds, for instance would not count towards that total).

Questions answered from attendees: Yes, they have women pastors, and diverse churches and pastors. They are conservative, Traditional Wesleyan, and hold to marriage as one man and one woman, and that same-sex sexual relations are incompatible with the Bible. There have been no debates within the FMC on changing these positions. Ellison explained that it is a connected group of churches, but with more autonomy than with the UMC or GMC. Most of the large churches appear to be joining the GMC when they leave the UMC.

There is up to a three-year process to go through in joining their group. If we go with them, we would become an affiliate first. Full membership is called a “society.” As an affiliate church, we and they could get a feel for one another before full commitment. Yes, they have the right to say no to us becoming full members of their organization, as could we.

Concerning the Trust Clause of the FMC: Any properties we hold the deeds for at the time of affiliation remain in our hands and complete ownership. Only building projects started after full membership would fall under their Trust Clause.

What I liked about this presentation was that Rev. Ellison seemed genuinely concerned with our spiritual state and was not trying to “sell” us on the Free Methodist Church. In their materials, they emphasize prayer, thoughtfulness, and strategic communication before changing our affiliation. I hope that our members are taking this seriously enough to be praying constantly about it!

For more information on the Free Methodist Church, visit their website at https://fumcusa.org. Their facebook page is found at https://www.facebook.com/fmcusa. You can read their Book of Discipline at https://fmcusa.org/resources/2015bodforeward. They have a magazine called Light + Life, which can be seen at https://lightandlifemagazine.com. Contact Cindy in the office if you would like a copy of the paperwork we received in the meeting concerning the affiliation process with the FMC.

We will have a Zoom meeting with a representative of the Free Methodist Church organization at our church on Sunday, December 4th, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. This is another group that we are checking into as a possible replacement for the UMC. The meeting is open to the whole church. No vote will be taken at this time.

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Quote to Ponder

I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.
- C. S. Lewis

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For Meditation

Based on John 12:1-3. Reference: Thru the Bible, J. Vernon McGee Vol. IV, p.443.

Three Essentials:

  1. Lazarus: alive from the dead and in fellowship with Christ (as we are who believe);
  2. Mary: at Jesus’ feet, growing in grace and knowledge of Christ, devotion, and adoration;
  3. Martha: serving in service to the Lord.

What each person represents in these verses:

  1. Lazarus: believers raised from the dead in the spiritual sense; once dead in our trespasses and sins (John 11:25);
  2. Mary: worship, adoration and growing daily in knowledge of Jesus Christ;
  3. Marfha: serving in his Kingdom’s work.

Notice: Mary poured out her all to Jesus—even the ointment she was saving for her own burial! Her giving created a pleasant odor throughout the house, as our service and devotion to Jesus does in our world—and in heaven.

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Mini-Bible Lesson #54: Selfishness

References: John 12:20-26; Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, pp. 660-664

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. --John 12:25-26 NIV

On the occasion of some Greeks asking to see Jesus, he says something that at first reading seems to be unrelated to the request. Yet, Jesus is telling these Greeks and us something very important to remember and to understand.

If you live your life only for yourself, you will be alone, useless to the world, which includes your family, your community, and your nation.

"The man who lives immersed only in his own interests and plays and pleasures and sorrows—for is not Cowper near the mark when he asserts, reading partly from his own experience and partly from that of others that the miserable are nearly always selfish?—such a one maroons himself upon a narrow spit of a life, a mere islet, far more cramped than the human inheritance that falls to kindlier folks…He who would have friends, says a shrewd scripture, must show himself friendly. Else he has no vital relationships, no living part in the community, drops out of it at last, and his absence is scarcely noticed; makes no difference to anybody; not missed." (I.B. p. 661)

We will all one day "face the judgment seat of God, to give account of what we have made of the life that he entrusted to [us]…" (I.B., p. 662)

Jesus is making sure that these curious Greeks (and all of us) understand that, for our relationship or belief in Jesus to bear fruit, we must give our all to him, and serve him only. "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me…"

We believers are meant to bear fruit related to the Kingdom of God’s work here on earth. But first, we must die to ourselves, and be born again into a new existence in Christ Jesus and away from the self-satisfying, material and fame and power grasping person we so want to be. It is a constant battle; a constant working out of our own salvation, but well worth the effort for ourselves and for the Kingdom’s sake. This is the best way to help transform the world into a better place also—until the Lord comes and sets all thing right.

"Certainly, Christ expects those who claim to be his to follow in his steps, to adopt his standards of value, and to put their lives to the same uses he did. For the whole point of Christianity is a reaching out toward Christlikeness; and its end and goal is Christlikeness attained." (I. B., p. 662)

"But of the mass of us is it not too true that our Christianity is a theory to be accepted, rather than a life to be daily and actively lived out?" (ibid, p. 663)

Give your selfishness, your desires, your dreams, your goals, to Jesus, and let Jesus decide which ones to keep, and how best to fulfill your life here on earth. He wants the best for you; but you must decide if you want the best Christ has to offer you.

 

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Special Resources

In the slide show above (not seen in the mobile phone version of our website) there are pictures showing some current bulletin boards at Ebenezer put up by the Haas Family, Tasha, Emily, and Abby, and of our new Resource Room.

The picture below is our new Resource Room with books, dvds, videos, and a TV screen (not shown in photo). Individuals are encouraged to take resources home for Bible study or reading; and classes can use the room to show videos related to their studies. We would appreciate donations of books or dvds, especially for young children for this collection.

 

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Ongoing Collections - Updated - 11/11/22

Oakhill Backpack Ministry

We are beginning to collect single serve, easy to microwave or use food items to send home with needy children, such as, fruit cups, mac and cheese, snacks, noodles, etc. The children will receive a backpack of these items to take home on the weekends, and use for themselves and their families. Put the items in the old fellowship hall. We thank you for helping.

Teacher's Closet Collection

We are collecting some items for our local teachers by helping fill up the Teacher's Closet. This ministry provides items for teachers and their students that they cannot obtain through the regular budget.

They include the following: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, paper towels, facial tissues, sharpies, dry board markers highlighters, black/blue/red ink pens. colored pencils, glue sticks, composition books and notebook paper (wide and college ruled), crayons, scissors (children's type), index cards, construction paper, pencil sharpeners, sheet protectors, file folders, large and small legal pads, white out, paper clips, staples, pencil pouches, markers, rulers, ring binders, card stock white/assorted, 3 ring note books, large and small pencil top erasers, and post it notes.

(NOTE: they have plenty of regular pencils at this time.)

South Caldwell Christian Ministries - Update 9/29

NOTE: We received a thank you note from SCCM this week thanking us for 49.5 pounds of food for their ministry. We continue to collect until the end of August. Thank you members and friends for your generous support.

We are collecting non-perishable food and clean used clothing in good condition that will be taken to South Caldwell Christian Ministries. You may leave the items at the church on Sundays or during normal office hours (8:30 to 1:00 p.m., Monday-Friday).

We thank you for helping us to minister to the needs of our community.

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"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 16)

Our vision is to let our light shine into the dark world so that the world may come to know The Light, which is Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Contact Information: 828-396-2214 or ebenezerumc@yahoo.com;
4948 Burns Rd., Granite Falls NC 28630