Thanksgiving Blessing Tree

Originally posted on Journey into Faith - Learning, Loving, Leading at Faith UMC:

Thanksgiving Blessing Tree  

Materials: Bible, foam craft in a variety of fall colors, permanent marker, branch or artificial tree

Gather the above materials & use the pattern below (or create your own) cut several leaves from the foam craft.

  • On Thanksgiving Day, ask each person to spend some time considering how God has blessed them during the past year.  Talk about why it’s important for us to remember what God has done for us.  Consider reading Joshua 4:1-24 as a family (or another favorite Bible story illustrating God’s provision), sharing about times during the past year when God’s presence and touch were evident in your lives.
  • Give each person a leaf and have them write something for which they are thankful for on one side of the leaf,  the year and their name on the other side.
  • As you gather around the dinner table, ask each person to share…

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Practicing Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Originally posted on Journey into Faith - Learning, Loving, Leading at Faith UMC:

“Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.  Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.  Celebrate God.  Sing together—everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!” – Psalm 32:1-2, 11

As the colorful falling leaves float to the ground and the calendar moves to November, our thoughts are naturally drawn to Thanksgiving. While I am thankful for this yearly reminder to give thanks, I am challenged to remember that giving thanks is not a discipline meant only for the 4th Thursday in November.

I am humbled by the reminder that Paul gives in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “…give thanks in all circumstances.  For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Give thanks in all circumstances, really?

There is no denying that life is challenging. But too often we are so caught up in the challenges of life…

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Faith UMC 2015 Mission and Vision Devotions – November 2015

November 2015

This Is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. – Psalm 23:5

FullSizeRender (63)Raymond Cropper.  We were only in 4th grade, but as far as I could tell Raymond was a Philistine named Goliath!  He had to be at least 6 feet tall.  His tattered jeans, t-shirt and beat up jacket could just as well had been blood stained armor broadcasting to the world undefeated victories from countless battles.  Everybody knew Raymond loved to fight.  And, everyday on the playground at recess, some innocent classmate became the object of Raymond’s harassment.  One fall day, Raymond focused his wrath on me.

I was average height in the 4th grade which meant that Raymond towered over me.  I saw him coming toward me in a straight line from across the playground.  I was so scared that I found myself praying involuntarily.  “Help me Lord!  Please Lord, help me!  O Lord, what am I going to do?”  Raymond kept coming.  Closer now, I could see a look on his face that assured me I was a goner. I looked around for someone to help but the teachers were all occupied a good distance away and all the other kids had strangely disappeared.  I was paralyzed.  I prayed again, harder this time.  I even shut my eyes!  When I opened them, Raymond stood in front of me like a wall less than an inch away.

What happened next, I can’t explain.  I was given some words.  I knew they had come from Sunday school but from whom and when?  It was something about loving your enemies, something like every person is a child of God, some strange idea like turning the other cheek to get hit again.  Maybe it was an image of Raymond and me sitting at a table together eating and sharing our desserts.  Whatever it was, I was surprised to hear what came from my voice.

oil_11349cp (1)“Raymond,” I said, feeling calmer than I had moments before, “I’m not going to fight you.  If you want, go ahead and beat me up.  But, I’m not going to fight you back.”  Poor Raymond was dumbfounded!  He stepped back frustrated and angry with me like I had refused to go to his party or something.  After a few more stunned moments in silence, Raymond turned and walked away.  He never bothered me again.  In fact, later in middle school, we became friends.

I’m convinced that God had indeed prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemy.  I was no longer weak and afraid and Raymond no longer felt the need to bully.  Thanks be to God!

How is God preparing a table for you?

Sincerely, Pastor Steve

November’s Prayer Focus: O God our redeemer, help us to love even our enemies.

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Faith UMC 2015 Mission and Vision Devotions – October 2015

October 2015

This Is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

“Are any among you sick?  They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:14 NRSV

James is my kind of guy!

oil_11349cp (1)James lays it all out there and then provides you with ‘righteous’ alternatives so that you might live a life worthy to be called a child of God and to live as a Christian in the world.  My interpretation of this verse has me understanding that James is not giving us an absolute promise of healing, but more importantly it is the act of prayer by the leaders of the church who, trusting in God, ask for His peace and spiritual joy to sustain us (those who are ‘sick’ or ‘weak’, general use of the verb ‘sick’ – think beyond disease).

James teaches us that it is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that our faith is one that trusts in God, and not in the physical circumstances with which we are surrounded.  [Faith is the underlying theme in the Letter of James.  Also James’ style of writing reflects his desire to engage his readers personally.  In chapter 5 James speaks on the topic of prayer saying that prayer is the right course of action for the full range of life-situations and for any person in these situations.  James gives instruction of when to pray, how to pray, and why pray (13-14)].

From about 2004-2013 I was a ‘caregiver’.  First for my mother, who suffered with dementia; and then, my husband who suffered with a fatal neuro-degenerative brain disease.  During these ten years it was my faith that sustained me.  It was knowing I/we were being lifted up in prayer by the ‘leaders’ of Faith Church that gave me the strength for the journey.  It was a humbling experience.  I have never had to depend on others, or even God, to such an extent  before.  I found myself understanding James’ point that it is out of our hands and in the hands of God.

The ‘elders/leaders’ came and prayed over me and my loved ones and ‘anointed’ us with ‘oil’.  This brought peace, hope and comfort to myself – and I believe – to my mom and to my husband.  I ‘called’ (an expression of faith) and ‘the church’ (unity in spirit) responded by praying over them/us (indicating there is something very specific we can always do in every situation, pray), anointing them/us with oil (a symbolic act of the gift of healing in the broadest sense of the word) in the name of the Lord Jesus.

                                                           Barb Rich, Stewardship Ministry Team  Associate Leader

October’s Prayer Focus: O God our sustainer, please provide all that is needed for Faith Church to serve you in mission and ministry.

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Faith UMC 2015 Mission and Vision Devotions – September 2015

September 2015

This Is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son.” – Ephesians 4:12-13 CEB

Has any one ever asked you to do something and your first reaction was to wonder why they would ever think you could do what they were asking you to do?

Me, teach Sunday School? Lead games for youth? Be a Confirmation mentor? Facilitate an adult group?

You might be able to relate to Moses. Like many of us, Moses gave God many excuses as to why he could not  respond to his calling.  As Moses gave God excuse after excuse, God’s response remained the same.  God promised to be with Moses and help Moses do all that God was asking him to do. Moses may have seemed like an unlikely leader, but God had anointed Moses for a special purpose. The same is true for us.

oil_11349cp (1)God doesn’t always call the equipped, but he always equips those he calls. This is a promise we can count on. This month’s scripture from Ephesians reminds us that God equips people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ. Some are called to be teachers, helpers, cooks, nursery caregivers, bus drivers, mentors, and greeters, but all are called. As we are called, God equips us to do what we’ve been called to do all for the purpose of building up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ. God wants us to become mature and realize the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

I hope you hunger for the fullness of Christ. I hope that the next time someone mentions that you would be a great Sunday School teacher, or Wednesday Night helper, Youth mentor, nursery caregiver, worship leader or adult group leader that your first response won’t be, “Oh not me. I could never do that.” But that you will first stop and pray and trust the nudge that God may be placing on  your heart, remembering that God promises to be with you and will equip and empower you and provide you with everything you need to respond to your calling. When you respond to God’s anointing, you will be blessed in ways beyond anything you could ever imagine. You will experience the fullness of Christ and God’s Kingdom will flourish.

Read more about Moses and God’s call in Exodus 3–4.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help me to hear and respond to your call, remembering that just as you equipped and empowered Moses, your anointing means that you also promise to be with me. Lead and guide me, Lord. Use me according to your will so that we will reach unity in the faith and experience the fullness of Christ. Amen.

Septembers Prayer Focus: Empowering God, bless and strengthen Faith’s Sunday School teachers, Small Group and Youth Ministry leaders.

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Faith UMC 2015 Mission and Vision Devotions – August 2015

August 2015

This Is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

“Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed one; God answers his anointed one from his heavenly sanctuary, answering with mighty acts of salvation achieved by his strong hand.” Psalm 20:6, CEB

Many years ago a brand new school was being built in our neighborhood. My family lived at the top of the hill and I could watch the school being built brick by brick. I was excited to attend this brand new school and the best part was I could now walk to school.

On the first day of school the neighborhood children happily gathered and streamed down the hill to the new school. When we got to the intersection to cross the street no provisions had been made to assist the children to safely get to the other side. Traffic did not stop for the walkers.

oil_11349cp (1)My Dad became the self  appointed  crossing guard. He did not have a shiny  vest ,  stop sign or a crossing gate but had loving concern, big hands and a yardstick. Everyday he walked down to the intersection held up his hand to stop the cars, extended that yardstick and helped the children safely cross the street.

I often encounter crossing guards in my travels, attired in their shiny vests protecting the children as they cross the road. I usually smile, wave and sometimes give them the thumbs up. I think of my Dad and how he protected me and helped me safely get to the other side. This is how our Heavenly Father travels with us. He sees the danger, fear, and uncertainties in our lives and protects us. God holds us and helps up to get through our perils and safely continue our journey toward Him.  God saves us by His strong mighty hand.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your steadfast presence and those people in our lives that journey with us on the road to the Kingdom. Help us to trust in you when we face crossroads in our lives. Help us to remember that you hear the prayers of your anointed children and and save us by your strong hand. Amen.

Cheryl Froelich, Faith Kitchen Coordinator

August’s Prayer Focus: Teaching Lord, we pray for the teachers, students and schools in our community.

August’s Prayer Focus: Teaching Lord, we pray for the teachers, students and schools in our community.

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The Butterfly Effect


Did you know that the soft gentle flap of a butterfly wing is eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? 

In 1963 a scientist named Edward Lorenz presented this hypothesis at a science convention. Not surprisingly, his colleagues laughed him out of the conference. After all, to propose that the gentle flutter of a butterfly wing could start a hurricane was crazy! 

 Imagine the surprise when more than 30 years later, Edward’s hypothesis was proven to be true. The butterfly effect was now a scientific law, The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions. Further, this principle has been proven to involve more than just butterfly wings. 

Do you believe that the little things you do to support and encourage the children, youth, and adults in our congregation and community can one day change the world?

With God’s help, in and through your words and actions, lives will be changed, a ripple effect will begin because of what you do today!

Your life and the little things you do has meaning and purpose.

Your Actions…Your Life…And what you do today…


This summer during Camp Read-a-Lot and Created By God, we shared the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) Simple words, but actions that profoundly impact the world. Don’t underestimate how the little things you say or do make a difference. Don’t underestimate how God might use your actions to plant seeds of hope in someone’s heart that may change their life and even the world. 

I know this to be true because God used this butterfly effect to change my life. As a college freshman, the simple task of standing up in class and saying my name would induce panic, anxiety attacks and hyperventilation. I was extremely shy, no self-confidence, self esteem lower than low. Until one day, in a conversation with a campus minister, Rev. Tom Douce made a comment that changed my life. It was just a casual comment, in which he told me that he wouldn’t be surprised if one day he would pick up a magazine and read an article about something I had accomplished. 

You see, God used that comment to bring to my mind something my high school French teacher, Mrs. Christy Thorley, had said a few years earlier. She told me that she believed that one day I would do great things. At the time, I was too insecure to believe it. But after the conversation with Rev. Douce, I started to believe that maybe there was some truth in their words. God had planted their words deep in my soul. The Holy Spirit brought those words from the depth of my soul and into my heart and head at just the right time. Their words of encouragement profoundly impacted my life and eventually, many years later, led to my being able to respond to God’s call to ministry, despite how crazy it seemed that someone so shy could possibly be used by God in this way. 

What words of encouragement and hope is God calling you to speak into someone’s life today?

How might God use the little things you say and do to change someone’s life?

Your Actions…Your Life…And what you do today


And so when you feel the Holy Spirit flutter in your heart and mind, speak those words and respond with your actions, as you never know how God might use your words and actions to change someone’s life. Believe that what you say and do today matters and makes a difference in the lives of the children, youth, and adults in our families, congregation and community and ultimately for the Kingdom of God. This is the transformation that Jesus invites us to participate in. Believe it! Your actions can and do change the world!

Dear God, thank you for butterflies and scientists, teachers, friends and counselors who make a difference in the world. Help us to be an instrument of your life changing power in the world today. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Kathy Schmucker, Faith UMC’s Spiritual Formation Director


The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

 The Kid Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

The Butterfly Effect

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