From the Well - Welcome New Staff

WELCOME NEW STAFF

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Linda Shawcross began work at Clemmons UMC on May 1 and will handle all of our communications: social media, Sunday morning A/V, Video, Sanctuary A/V, and website. Linda and her family moved to the Clemmons community and joined CUMC in July, 1995. She received her teaching certification and Masters at Salem College and taught in the Clemmons UMC preschool. She was a teacher at Clemmons Elementary from 2008-2014. Since then she has returned to the Clemmons UMC preschool as the teacher and coordinator of technology.

Linda and Bill recently moved from Clemmons to a farm in Davie County where they enjoy raising chickens, honeybees, and lots of vegetables. Bill and Linda have two daughters, Katie and Emily who are both married and living in the Winston-Salem area. They have one granddaughter, Camille. Welcome Linda!

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 We also want to welcome Rev. Sara E. Smith who will join the staff July 15 as our new full-time children and family minister. Sara comes to us as an ordained pastor in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She has a degree in biology from NC State, a Master of Divinity Degree from Wake Forest School of Divinity, and certifications in Clinical Pastoral education. She has worked as a mission project coordinator for Passport ministries in Birmingham, Alabama, a teacher in our own Clemmons preschool, and as a chaplain for the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where she was the primary chaplain for the neonatal ICU and Pediatrics. She is currently a spiritual counselor for Hospice of Davidson County. Sara is married to Chase and they have a 14-month-old daughter Penelope Ruth “Nellie.” Welcome Sara!


From the Well - 6/13/2019

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Philippians 1:12-18 (MSG) 
I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.  All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I'm in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they've learned all about him.  Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.  It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world.  One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help.  The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better-they think-for them.  So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

A young man was sent to Spain by his company to work in a new plant. He accepted because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend. Their plan was to pool their resources and put a down payment on a house when he returned. As the lonely weeks went by, she began expressing doubts that he was being true to her. After all, Spain is populated with beautiful women. The young man declared that he was not paying any attention to the local girls. “I admit,” he wrote, “that sometimes I’m tempted. But I fight it. I’m keeping myself for you.”

In the next mail, the young man received a package. It contained a note and a harmonica. “I’m sending this to you,” his girlfriend wrote, “so you can have something to take your mind off those girls.” The young man wrote back that he was practicing on the harmonica every night and thinking only of her.

When the young man returned home to the states, his girl was waiting at the airport. As he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said sternly, “Hold on there. First I want to hear you play that harmonica!”[1]

Sometimes it is hard for us to believe in our hearts what other have confessed with their lips. It’s hard to believe what we have read and heard. Every Sunday I'm confronted with this reality. I have the Word and I have the words. On a shelf, just above my head, there are four Bibles of different shapes, sizes, and translations. I have an office full of resources and 36 years of experience and, yet, I am aware of my limitations. I often struggle with the proper interpretation and I still doubt myself at times.

I confess that every day I come to God (the source of all that is) with an empty cup knowing that I must believe at least 100 things before breakfast. It's called faith. I go through every day of my life, and you do also, believing that God is making the journey with us. God is in the good and bad. God laughs and weeps with us. God will save us from all of our sins and transgressions. Like you, I confess with my lips . . . "Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead and that by that confession I will be saved . . . "[2] I don't know how God is able to do that for each one of us. I just know that God's great power and grace makes a difference in the way I live my life. It makes a difference in your life!

The longer I'm in pastoral ministry the more I become aware of the fact that I am limited in my abilities, especially when it comes to sharing God's divine mystery. As D.T. Niles once said, "I'm just a beggar willing to tell another beggar where I found bread."  And Paul reminds us that “Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!” Go and spread the Word and know that you are being cheered on. Think about it.

Matthew

[1]Source Unknown.

[2]Romans 10:9, NRSV.

From the Well - 6/6/2019

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Philippians 1:1-11 (MSG) 
Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the Christians in Philippi, pastors and ministers included.  We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.  Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God.  Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.  I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present.  There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  It's not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God.  He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!  So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings  so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of:  bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

Mark Twain was once contracted to write articles for $5 a word, an astronomical sum in his day. He was asked by an interviewer what he thought was the most significant word in the English language. Twain’s answer was simple. He said that the most significant word was “Thanks.”

Thanks was at the center of Paul’s love letter to his cherished friends in Philippi. Paul wrote to the Philippians while under house arrest in Rome. He’s old, tired, and at the end of his life and ministry. How wonderful that at the end he could give thanks to those who had supported him with encouraging words, prayer, and finances. Paul’s letter reminds us that thankfulness is one of the cornerstones to a healthy.

I cannot help but think of Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, neurologist, and holocaust survivor. Dr. Gordon Allport, in his preface to Frankl’s most important work, Man’s Search for Meaning, writes of Frankl’s amazing survival and almost mystic transformation in spite of the horrors he endured as a young man in the German concentration camps of World War II. Allport writes:

. . . there he found himself stripped to a literally naked existence. His father, mother, brother and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens, so that except for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he--every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination--how could he find life worth preserving? A psychiatrist who personally has faced such extremity is a psychiatrist worth listening to.[1]

Frankl offers an answer to Allport’s question by recounting his experience immediately following his liberation from the camps:

One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country, past flowering meadow, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp. Larks rose to the sky and I could hear their joyous song. There was no one to be seen for miles around; there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the lark's jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around and up to the sky--and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world--I had but one sentence in mind--always the same: "I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and he answered me in the freedom of space."

How long I knelt there and repeated this sentence, memory can no long recall. But I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life started. Step for step I progressed until I again became a human being.[2]

Frankl, released from one of the most leprous of episodes in human history, could do nothing but kneel before his creator and express extreme gratitude. How could we do less? Think about it.

Matthew

[1]Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 7.

[2]Ibid, 96.

From the Well - 5/30/2019

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Ephesians 6:18-24 (MSG)

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.  And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I,  jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.  Tychicus, my good friend here, will tell you what I'm doing and how things are going with me. He is certainly a dependable servant of the Master!  I've sent him not only to tell you about us but to cheer you on in your faith.  Good-bye, friends. Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ.  Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ.

Paul, who was in prison when he wrote Ephesians, believed that prayer was going to get him to the finish line. Paul was determined to get the message of Jesus Christ out to the world. Prayer was going to help him do it with courage and determination.

Thank goodness for prayer. It makes a difference as I prepare for Sunday morning and get ready to lead our three worship services. I hope you can sense the difference prayer makes. I would hate for it to be like the seven-year-old boy who asked, "Dad, why do you pray before you preach?" "I ask God to help me." "Then why doesn't he?" asked the young boy.

We've all heard that prayer changes things but sometimes we would just as soon not change. Another young boy was overheard praying, "Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am." Jesus stressed that the church must be a "house of prayer," not a house of worship services, preschools, youth work, or even a house of outreach programs. While all of these are crucial to the church's mission and ministry, the church's attention to these things should not squeeze out the most important, powerful, life-changing, soul-winning thing we can do as a church, PRAY.

The founder of our denomination, John Wesley believed that to accomplish anything, we have to start with prayer. The Apostle Paul knew that when we open ourselves up to God in prayer that we become connected to Him and His Son Jesus Christ. When we pray "hard and long" and for our "brothers and sisters," we perpetuate a hope that will carry us from one day to the next. In some special way, that hope also connects us to all of God's people. Think about it.

Matthew

From the Well - 5/23/2019

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Ephesians 6:10-17 (MSG) 
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong.  So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way.  This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.  Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness,  peace,  faith,  and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensableweapon.

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem houses the first seven scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947. The white dome embodies the lids of the jars in which the first scrolls were found. There is also a black wall alongside the dome that alludes to the tension (battle) between the spiritual world of the "Sons of Light" (as the sectarian residents of Qumran called themselves) and the "Sons of Darkness" (The enemy). The idea was that there was a cosmic battle of sorts going on between good and evil and that we are all participants.

Paul, writing from prison, urges his followers to arm themselves for battle, to defend themselves in a hostile world. While we may not be under persecution for our faith like Paul and his followers, we still live in an environment that seems to destroy faith. So, like Paul we need to prepare ourselves through worship, study of the scriptures, and support through the Body of Christ. We also need to remember that our hope is always in God. Martin Luther, one of the fathers of the reformation reminds us:

And though this world with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear for God has willed,

His truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him.

His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure.

Our little world shall fell him.

Thomas Merton put it like this, "Our real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God, who is making something good out of it in some ways we cannot see." Think about it.

Matthew