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Reasons to Give Thanks to God

This is the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year! I have a tradition of listing at least 100 specific blessings each year. In the coming days, I will be listing all the reasons to give thanks in 2018. My personal blessings and family blessings are too numerous to count this year. In addition to my family and personal blessings, I will also name blessings from our congregation. These blessings too have been off the chart this year! Here are a few sample blessings on my mind as I write for this article.

We began the year blessed with an incredible journey of 21 days of prayer, fasting, witness, and worship. Our church is still being impacted by this blessing and we are pleased to announce we will offer twenty-one days of worship, fasting, and prayer as we begin 2019!

We are blessed this weekend! Our church is SENDING 25 people to Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in Panama City to prepare and provide a Thanksgiving Dinner for their entire congregation. This lunch will follow morning worship at Lynn Haven and provide for hundreds of worshipers. Let us give thanks to Chef Heyward for leading this team in providing a deed of shalom from our church to another! Thank you to our congregation for your generosity making this possible!

Let us give thanks for hundreds and even thousands of “deeds of shalom” done through our congregation this year. We have made a spiritual impact with both small and large deeds to help and encourage others in our community. Our witness for Christ has shined brightly this year. Thanks be to God!

I’m so grateful for our other pastors, staff, and laity that do amazing things every week in Reaching, Teaching, and Sending in the name of Jesus. Our worship services have been inspiring all year! Our REACH has increased this year. The baptisms and reaffirmations of baptism through our church have increased this year.

Thank you for new staff members in 2018 to minister to our youth and children David Garvin, Jennifer Guidoni, and Dawn Rozosky. I’m also grateful for Steve Larson and the blessings he brings as our new Church Administrator. I’m grateful for the impact they are having in just a matter of months.

I’m grateful for new Lay Leadership that has stepped in and up in 2018! Our Alive at Shalimar event identified some great opportunities. We have six new teams pursuing six priorities moving into the New Year. I am grateful for all our excited Lay Leadership and the new things that are springing forth!

We have reason to give thanks for the addition of the Presbyterian Church next door purchase. Now the new property is called Cross Corner and we give thanks to God for this new addition to our campus. This addition could only come through the Hand of God!

I’m grateful for our congregation that says often God is at work now and anticipating a major move of God is coming through Shalimar United Methodist Church. Let it be so!

These are just some of the reasons to give thanks for our congregation. Many of you could fill this page with how Shalimar has blessed you this year. On this weekend, may we consecrate our 2019 Will You Grow Commitments with a spirit of thanksgiving in our hearts! May all in our congregation have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!


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This week we focus on the “GROW” part of the phrase with our WILL YOU
GROW campaign. God does not give us life to become static but rather to
grow. We are challenging everyone in our congregation to grow! Our capacity to grow never ends. We are never too young or old to grow. There are endless frontiers to grow as a person in knowledge, wisdom, and love. In the spiritual life, we are seeking to be more like Jesus. We seek to GROW in our discipleship and His teachings. We, as a church, seek to grow in REACH,
TEACH, and SEND in both numbers of people impacted and disciples made
through our church.

One other important area to never grow complacent is to grow in generosity. Growing in generosity helps you grow both individually and as a disciple. In addition, we have a need in our heart to give. All of us growing in our generosity helps the church flourish! Our WILL YOU GROW campaign is challenging us all to grow in our giving for the Lord!

Over the past 33 years, Karen and I have grown in our giving. We have learned and experienced God’s blessings early in our marriage, when we began tithing (10% of our total income). As a pastor of a brand new church start, I witnessed first-hand not only the personal blessings of tithing but also how the church grew as the entire church grew in generosity.

This year Karen and I have had our conversation and are committing to
increasing our weekly giving for 2019. We already give more than 10% of our total income. In preparation for 2019 we will increase our weekly generosity and take another step forward. Karen and I will grow and we invite each of you to grow as well.

Finally, I would ask you to take a moment and think about the reasons we have to give thanks to God. As we continue WILL YOU GROW, take a few moments and reflect on how God has blessed you. Our generosity will grow as our gratitude grows. God has blessed us and we cannot out give God! May our gratitude lead the way of our generosity!


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A Request for a Church Wide Deed of Shalom

Rev. Craig Carter called me Tuesday and was following up on my offer to help Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in this time following Hurricane Michael. They are worshipping in their parking lot and the people really love to stay and fellowship after the service. This koinonia (deeper fellowship) really rallies their spirits each time they are together as they cope in their community of such massive destruction. I appreciate Craig making a specific suggestion of how we could help. He went on to say that meals after worship mean so much to their people right now. Craig asked me if Shalimar UMC would consider sponsoring a meal following their worship on a Sunday. This would mean feeding about 500 people. I told him I thought we could make that happen! After all, we serve the God of the loaves and fishes.

After the call, I immediately called our church chef, Heyward Mckenzie. Heyward quickly and with confidence said, “we can make that happen.” We brainstormed for a few minutes and agreed to talk again on Wednesday. The next day I called Heyward again and he suggested we provide a Thanksgiving Feast the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving which is November 18th. I thought this was a great idea. I called Craig and he loved the idea.

The plan, which came about “quick and nimble” is to sponsor a meal for 500 worshipers as a deed of shalom from our church to their church on November 18. How can we help?

#1 We can volunteer to be on a team of about 15 people to travel on this day to Lynn Haven. This will include transporting the food and helping Heyward as needed. Also, it will offer a chance to offer hospitality while serving this congregation.
#2 We can give financially to help sponsor this meal. It would be great if people in our church gave enough to underwrite whatever costs are incurred with this meal. We are in the midst of our “WILL YOU GROW” campaign and this gives us an opportunity to grow in our giving and action.
#3 We can pray for Lynn Haven UMC and all churches dealing with catastrophic loss from Hurricane Michael and the challenges ahead in recovery.
#4 We can use our capacity to be “quick and nimble” in generosity and to bless others through what God can do through our church. The scripture teaches (Luke 12:48) “to whom much is given much is required.” Shalimar UMC has been given much and is blessed to be a blessing to others.

What a great opportunity to show our love in a church wide “deed of shalom” from one church to another. If you would like to help contact Pastor Brian at 651-0721. Thank you for your generosity in advance!


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