By The Rev. Gary W. Lefever
From “The View,” Newsletter of Calvary UM Church
Rev. Gary W. Lefever, composed this message for Calvary UMC’s newsletter “The View” (January 2015 issue) as the church’s new pastor. It is adapted and reprinted here with his permission. Faithful Stewards of Time, Treasure and the Earth was the theme of the 2015 Eastern PA Annual Conference session.
We are sent to proclaim the Gospel and to be good and faithful stewards of Jesus Christ. It is a responsibility God has given all of us as we give our lives to Christ who was born to us. As we live as “Faithful Stewards,” we learn to “Climb Higher” knowing the Lord is with us. It is about having a clear and compelling vision, which we seek to follow as the crucial first step. A faithful vision is more than a desire “to keep the bills paid and the doors open.” People need to see a vision with a goal to action that strives to make a difference, to transform lives through knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to make the world a better place.
Stewardship with a clear vision motivates us to be part of God’s work in the world as Jesus Christ’s disciples. Disciples with a stewardship heart means we follow Jesus out in the world to give ourselves generously to ministry. Stewardship is recognizing that all we have been given is a gift from God to manage and experience God’s work through our lives. It includes time in prayer to listen for God’s voice, time in God’s Word for discernment, using our talents and passions for others in need, and seeking opportunities to live devoted, faithful lives in the world.
Stewardship is important when the giving of ourselves through prayer in the Word, our presence, gifts, service, and witness has an impact of transformed lives for Jesus Christ. People need to see the POWER of God supply their needs through faithful outreach as we climb new heights for God. The Methodist approach to Stewardship could be summarized by John Wesley. He is quoted as saying, “Earn All We Can…Save All We Can…so we can Give All We Can. “What does this look like?” people may ask. They may say, “Can my giving make a difference?” “Yes it does.“ Read More
As representatives of God’s love to those in need, All One Body Ministries’ (AOB) takes its ministry beyond the pulpit with outreach missions to expose others to the compassion of Christ. With the launch of a GoFundMe page in November 2014, AOB took charge of raising funds for a family whose mother was battling cancer.
“We set out to help one family in need this Thanksgiving,” shares AOB Worship Director, Diane Gonzalez, “but God had something else in mind. The outpouring of love from donators was so great that AOB was able to provide twenty families with all of their thanksgiving needs.”
The hands and feet of the Thanksgiving Mission included AOB founding member, Love Da Poet, and the team of gifted Christian artists that make up AOB. Since the July 2014 formation, AOB has upheld a steady mantra to serve and assist churches and communities through its participation in workshops, events and outreach projects: In anticipation of the 2014-2015 school year, AOB pushed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to students, families and faculty at Light in the Darkness Evangelical Free Church’s 2014 Free Back To School Concert in Schenectady, New York. Students received a free hot meal and wholesome Christian entertainment.
“[The concert] was to equip this urban, low income community with the tools needed for a successful academic school year,” said Love Da Poet, who also shared that every attendee received a free bookbag filled with supplies. “We bless God for the vision and heart of Pastor Jon La Joy Jr, his church and for the opportunity to serve God’s love in excellence.”
With 2015 collaborations lined up for a Gospel Poetry Jam Tour with slam artist Trini the Professor, the Tru3Ransome Tri-state College Tour, and The Philadelphia Project, we expect greater Kingdom building to come through AOB Ministries as it positions itself to becoming an International urban impacting crusade.
On the night the great luxury liner Titanic sank, it was purported that someone said, “They claimed that God Almighty could not sink this ship.” Immediately another person in the lifeboat responded, “Then God died because He went down with the ship.”
As you know, I prepare myself for worship each week by listening to music. Today, I played the closing songs from “Godspell.” At the end of the crucifixion Jesus sings “God is dead.” Immediately following the end of that song, the entire ensemble begins singing “Long Live God” and “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.”
As I listened to those songs, I thought of Emanuel AME Church. I wish I could be there today. You would probably need a shoehorn to get into the church. It’s going to be packed. That church is going to rock today. The message they are going to proclaim is that God is not dead because throughout the years they have heard the Word of God as being love, forgiveness, and acceptance. They are not going to feel sorry for themselves. They are not going to have a case of the “poor me’s”. They are going to proclaim that God is alive through them. They are the instruments of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. They are the instruments who will teach the world that “God is alive” and they are “Preparing Ye the Way of the Lord.” Read More
My first mission trip took place with a group of volunteers from Bethany UMC– Allentown remodeling the homes of Atlantic City, NJ residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
My job for the week that I spent with the A.C. Long-term Recovery Project was to lay down brand new flooring, insulation, and plywood for both rooms. We, also, made covers for the radiators and helped repair the bathroom.
Leaders had to keep going out to get supplies so that we could continue to work on the homes. Working on the homes made me much more thankful for all of the things I have in my life both material and non-material.
This mission trip inspired a new career path. At the time, I was pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice with the aspirations of becoming a Crime Scene Investigator. Everything I learned and the Great experiences from the mission work we performed has led me to consider becoming a missionary.
Bethany UMC, Lebanon, PA
Colossians 2:6 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (ESV).
When volunteering to write a devotional piece for this article, I had no idea what to write. So I prayed and prayed. Then to my spirit, God spoke to me about writing about my current status in life. Well, in spaceship terms, “Systems failing!” Thankfully, my parents never taught or mislead me to think that the Christian life is something easy and living out God’s call is easy. The truth is, when we live in faith we truly don’t know what is going to happen but we trust God that in all things they will work together for good. That is why I love living out Colossians 2:6.
I am a visionary, leader, and ministry builder. These three gifts God has used to extents where I wonder why I haven’t burnt out, lost control, and left everything at a burning stake. Truth is, I know why. It is because I am rooted and built up in a foundational relationship with Jesus Christ. Too many of us try taking steps of faith without truly being in that foundation-grappled relationship with Jesus. Being rooted is to draw your spirit-filled energy as a plant draws its water. Being built up is to lay a foundation that cannot be broken and that foundation is God’s Word (Matthew 7:24). In my life God has given me visions and dreams that scare me enough to do them. However, that is not the statement a lot of people have, mostly it is not to pursue the visions and dreams. Even though my life is extremely rough, I believe in Jesus Christ and I know He will see me through. The beautiful piece of this verse is, “abounding in thanksgiving” which is to live in plentiful, never-ending, joyful praise to Father God because He is welcoming and allowing us to abide in Him and walk beside Him, to further the Kingdom.
I encourage you to meditate on this verse and take a deep look into your life and do a systems check to know if you are rooted and built up in Him. So when God calls you to do the most faith-based actions, you can step out of the boat and know you’ll walk on water knowing the Word is in you and your strength comes from Abba Father.
by Aaron J. Smith
Want more from Aaron? Check out: “Sexual Sin and the Face of the Creator” from Season 1 of the Waging War video series. This intense message is an evaluation of what it means to behold the face of the Creator.