God Was in the Whisper – Pastor Ed

The word for “whisper” in 1 Kings 19:12 is דְּמָמָה (demamah, originally from damam) in Hebrew. Demamah can be translated as “blowing,” “silence,” “still” and that is why demamah renders “whisper” as a possible translation. Some other translations are “small voice,” “thin sound,” “quiet,” “subdued, small voice.” You get the idea! In 1 Kings 19:12, God was in the whisper.

In the Hebrew Scriptures’ (a.k.a. The Old Testament) Time, the belief was that a god who manifested god-self through thunders, strong wind, storms, earthquakes and fire was considered a powerful god. No wonder the God of the Old Testament is considered by many a scary and angry God because that is the way Yahweh showed up to Israel and through Israel to other nations very often. The word demamah (whisper, silence, still) appears only three times in the Old Testament. God was in the whisper.

It is true we sometimes need God to show up to us in thunderous ways. There are times in our journey we desperately need God to appear as strong and mighty a God as possible because we feel the wheels are falling off our cart and we need a big-time type of deliverance. But there will be times when we will need God to come as gentle as a dove and whisper to our hearts that God is in the midst of our storms and earthquakes in life, right there with us, and ready to save.

As you and I ask the question, “Where is God in all this?” and “How is God at work in our midst?” let us not allow ourselves to be tossed around by the strong winds of negativity and adversity that try to break our hearts to pieces; the earthquakes of challenges to shake even our deepest human structures; and the fire of discontentment, frustration or hatred to burn us to the ground. Let us, instead, focus on the small voice, the whisper of God to us that reassures us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Friend, listen for the whisper of God calling out to you today. God is with us. And God will lead us out of the cave, out of the hindering place, on to the path where God wants us to go.

Shalom!

Pastor Ed


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What Question Would You Ask God? – Pastor Abe

If you could ask God only one question, what would you ask? Seriously, take a moment to consider your question. Now consider why this question was important to you.

In the Bible, Moses was asked by God to go to Pharaoh and set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:1-15). Moses asked God two questions, which gave him clarity and courage for his journey. Moses asked God, “Who am I…,” which God responded, “I will be with you.” And Moses asked, “What if Pharaoh asks who sent me,” which God responded, “I Am Who I Am.” God’s answers showed Moses (and us) that our life’s journey is not about us, but what God is doing through us. Life is about trusting God’s plan for our future. God’s name – “I Am” – gives Moses the confidence that God exists, God is inexhaustible, God draws near to us, and no reality exists without God.

Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. His questions brought clarity and transformation to people’s lives. Who do you say I am (Mt. 16:15)? Do you want to get well (John 5:6)? Do you believe (Mt. 21:22)? Why are you afraid (Mt. 8:26)? What does Scripture say (Luke 10:26)? Do you love me (John 21:15)?
Questions bring about learning and clarity. They provide observation and assessment to our present thinking and guide us in more meaningful paths of life.

Asking questions may be the most powerful tool and resource we have as humans. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions.” Einstein believed that asking quality questions about a situation would lead you to the heart of the matter, which would then allow one to move forward with clarity.

Questions help us think mindfully. Quality questions lead us closer to God and give us the courage and clarity needed to grow in faith. May God be glorified in all that we say and do- in the questions, and the answers!

Blessings,
Pastor Abe


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Hurdles – Pastor Tommy

Hurdles

This month, we are talking about making a path through the wilderness. What does it mean to walk a new way? What does it feel like to travel through unfamiliar territory? One thing that’s true – it takes practice to become good at walking through new places.

When I was in high school, I ran the hurdles. The 330 yard intermediate hurdles were brutal. You had to focus on each obstacle. You had to watch your step. You had to practice your technique and continually tape bruised ankles and knees. That said, the more I did, the better I became.

The Bible teaches that in unfamiliar times, God is with us. The teachings of the Bible can guide us. The love of Jesus can form us. No matter the length of the race or the difficulty of the obstacles we must hurdle, we can remember who and whose we are. If we practice love every day, our feet will know the way before long.

See you in Church, online.

Blessings,

Pastor Tommy


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Wilderness – Pastor Tommy

I grew up hiking and camping. I know the feeling of wandering in wild and unfamiliar places, of trying to follow the trail, of sometimes missing the signs and not being sure where to go next. The anxiety, the panic, of not knowing how to get back to the path I’m supposed to be walking.

So many stories in the Bible are journey stories. Stories of going from one place to another through danger and uncertainty. Stories of making our way through the Wilderness. In these stories, holy people – Saints, Prophets, and great leaders – find themselves lost, despairing, and afraid.

But in all of those stories, God gives direction. The stories and teaching of Scripture help us to find our way back toward the path toward God’s future.    

Over the next four weeks, I will be preaching about finding our way in the wilderness. This Sunday, we will talk about Jacob wrestling with the angel. We will also celebrate Holy Communion, and remember that Jesus is the truth, the light, and the way.

Sometimes we know the path and wander away from it. Sometimes we can’t see the path. Let’s spend this month seeking the path together. 
 
Blessings,
Pastor Tommy

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The Lord’s Day – Pastor Patty

I spent last weekend with two of our delightful grandchildren. On Sunday morning, as I joined livestream worship on my computer, my four-year-old granddaughter recognized Pastor Tommy on the screen and said, “I want to see church too!” She pulled herself up onto the chair next to me at the kitchen counter. We talked about her questions. Is Pastor Chris a helper? Who is singing? What’s that? She was very interested in what John was doing and all those white buttons on the organ console. I think she was fairly satisfied with my attempt to explain what an organ stop does.

After a short break between services and refreshing our snacks, we sat down for the Wellspring livestream. She was curious about the people again. I told her about my friends Pastor Abe and Pastor Kris and Pastor Janet as they appeared on the screen and all the musicians. Her two-year-old little brother climbed his way in between us from time to time—popping in to see what we were doing and not wanting to miss out on anything.

“Sabbath,” meaning the seventh day, is connected to the day that God rested after six days of creation (Ex. 20:8-11). It is a day to rest and turn our minds to God. As Christians, our Sabbath custom is to gather for worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day of Resurrection, in celebration of new life in Christ and remembrance of what God has done for us. The rhythm of Sabbath becomes our habit, our custom. These past months we have adjusted our Sabbath practice to connect in a way that is mindful of taking care of each other through online worship.

I am grateful for that sweet Sabbath morning and the comfort of familiar rituals in an uncertain time. I found new blessing seeing worship up close and personal through the eyes of a child. God brings new life to each day, and unexpected opportunities emerge. The connection of the Church, the body of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit is real—however we gather—offering moments to see in new ways and experience blessing. Jesus taught that Sabbath was made for the good of people (Mark 2:27 CEV). May the rhythms of Sabbath soothe your soul and bring comfort, peace, joy, and assurance of the loving presence of Christ.


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Caring for God’s Creation – Pastor Ed

We have all heard the story of the Creation in the book of Genesis in the Bible. For the longest time growing up, when I thought about Creation I thought about the Moon, the Stars, the Sun, the animals… not so much the humans God had also created. For some reason, for me, these humans belonged in a different category, as if they were more special and above Creation. Do not ask me why!

But then, it dawned on me the humans were indeed part of the whole of God’s Creation! And the Bible highlights that everything God created was “good” and “very good.”

Only God can generate “good” (goodness) in God’s own Creation. We need God to instill in us goodness. Only God’s goodness in us will empower and enable us to care for God’s Creation: the life in the sea, land, and air; and of course, our fellow humans! God has placed you and me, the humans, in a position to care for God’s Creation. That means God wants you and me to care for each other, as well! That means we will do no harm to each other, and we will do everything we can to do good towards our fellow brothers and sisters.

I think when we are able to see other people as God’s beloved and very good Creations, and that they have also been created in God’s own image, we will be able to unleash God’s “good” (goodness) into the world as God intends us to.

Blessings,
Pastor Ed


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First Day of School – Pastor Tommy

I remember the first day of school when I was growing up in Irving, Texas. The smells, the sounds, the feel of long pants after a summer of shorts. I remember my kids’ first days of school. I remember the energy and many emotions. How it felt when they left for their first years of college. I remember first days of school volunteering at Caldwell, handing out pencils and holding open doors.
 
This year, though, it’s different. Our schedules are different. Emotions are different. The excitements and worries and difficulties are magnified and complicated.
 
Many things are different this year, but we are still the same. We help each other. Love each other. Pray for each other. This is who we have always been.
 
In this Echo, you will see the names of church members who are teachers, administrators, and staff in our schools. Please pray for these wonderful people. Pray for our students and parents.
 
Also remember, in times when so much is different, love is still the same. Speak love. Act love. Post love on your Facebook. Jesus said “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
 
Let’s be the Church together. Let’s be our best selves together. Let’s remember who we are and whose we are.
 
Blessings,
Pastor Tommy
 

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Laying a Firm Foundation – Pastor Stacey

I walked the foundation of Melissa UMC with Pastor Tommy a few weeks ago. We stood on the sacred space where our sanctuary will be, where our community will gather to pray, worship, and share life together. We stood on the sacred ground where our classrooms and coffee shop will be, where people will come to meet their neighbors and to make new friends. We remembered the journey we have been on in McKinney and Melissa since 2012 when the dream for this church began to be a reality. We celebrated our connectedness, even in a season of being physically distanced from one another.
 
You have the opportunity to be a part of laying a firm foundation for our new church building in Melissa. On Sunday, August 9 at noon, we will gather in person on the property (physically distanced and wearing masks) to lay blessing capsules in the foundation of our new church. You can let us know you are coming to the property or send a message to be placed on the field here: 
 
God is faithful as we continue the work of sharing love across our communities. We have much to be grateful for!
 
Blessings,
Pastor Stacey
 

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Communion – Pastor Tommy

This Sunday is Communion Sunday. I can’t believe how long it has been since we worshiped together in person. I miss it. I know you do, too.
 
Because it has been a different experience in the mornings, it has been harder for me to get ready for worship. I have to be more intentional in prayer on Sunday morning. I have to limit distractions. A few weeks ago, waiting in my office for our service to start, I decided I should take time to clean my desk. I ended up accidentally throwing away my sermon notes, and didn’t realize it until I went in the sanctuary to start worship! Now, instead of cleaning or scrolling through social media, I breathe deep. I spend time picturing your faces and praying for you by name.
 
Take time to get ready this Sunday. Prepare an altar, maybe a cross and a candle. Pray over the elements as you lay them out. Picture the faces of your church family members, of everyone you love and miss, and pray for them by name. Pray for your pastors and worship leaders (pray that they aren’t frantically searching for Tommy’s sermon notes!). Pray for the Spirit to come.
 
We will worship together on Sunday. Be strong and courageous. Do not grow weary. God is with us. See you online.
 
Blessings,
Tommy

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