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July 16, 2016, 1:05 PM

The Good News in July, 2016


It’s hot. It’s July.

It’s July. It’s hot.

What a great time to get a cool glass of water or tea and sit and think about our conversations this year.

In January, I talked about the difference in doing church and being church.

In February, I talked about the results of our Annual Planning Meeting.

Imagine. Connect. Show God’s Love.

In March, I asked you a lot of How Many questions.

In April, I reminded us all that

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

In May, I talked about relationships with the unchurched.

In June, I asked you what you wanted the story to be in the future.

Where are we going?

What will we do to get there?

I believe there is a large part of the world that does not know the love of God. I believe those people are in the houses close to where each of us live. I believe God created each of us with unique gifts and talents to work in His kingdom. Are we being faithful to Him in the use of our uniqueness?

Each and every one of us is secure in our eternity, and that is a wonderful part of our faith. However, there are people, here, now, that need us. What do you do with your uniqueness? Teach a class? Sit and S.O.W.? Work at the food pantry? Show movies? Take care of aging parents? Yard sales? I see and hear a loud YES to all of those.

But that’s not the end of the story; that’s not the entire story. The church is entrepreneurial by nature, so someone has to be thinking about the next good thing for us to help those around us, to be Christ to a hurting world. What is the Spirit saying to you? Pray tell!!




June 4, 2016, 9:22 PM

The Good News in June, 2016 ~ A Message from the Pastor


"What do you want the story to be?" – Sam Parker

The 60th Anniversary Committee is doing good work preparing us all for a celebration on October 15-16, 2016. They are pulling together all the reminders of days past here at the church. They are working to put together a meal for Saturday night and a special worship service on Sunday. ‘Save The Date’ communications will be going out, with invitations to follow. Many are trying to gather addresses – email and snail mail – to gather former members, former leaders, family, and friends. Please take time to thank this committee for all their hard work. Please help them in any way they ask of you.

Then today, an email suddenly changed the perspective of this celebration for me. What would people 60 or 50 or 40 years ago have wanted the story to be for Southampton? Have all of us, then and now, lived into those dreams?

And now the question becomes, ‘what do you want the story to be’ for the future of Southampton?

*Sam Parker says that is a helpful question for all of us to ask when we are talking to other people. To me, it is a helpful question for Southampton to attempt to answer now. What do you want the folks that worship here in 2026 and 2036 and 2046 to say about these current years here at Southampton? What do you want God to say about these current years here at Southampton?

These are huge questions, but they are not the largest question by any means. The largest question is, ‘what will you do NOW to have that story to be real THEN?’ That tough question begs action. That tough question takes energy. That tough question takes prayer and discernment.

How would you finish this sentence that could be written in 2066, "In 2016 the faithful people of Southampton, though small in number but full of love did _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ."




April 28, 2016, 6:44 PM

The Good News in May, 2016 ~ A Message from the Pastor


I do a lot of reading. Why? I read because it keeps my mind engaged in what is going on

around me.

I ask a lot of questions. Why? I ask because I am interested in what God is doing in the lives

of others.

I observe often. Why? I observe because not everything is communicated is by the

written word.

I love. Why? I love because God first loved me.

I wonder if I have just described evangelism in this day and time. What are you reading? Who are you talking to? What are you observing? How often do you show love? Do you have a healthy curiosity about humanity, and specifically about other humans? AND, do you do all of that without expecting a response?

It is not easy to evangelize now, just like it was not easy to evangelize in Jesus’ time. He started with just twelve men. And he stayed with them and taught them to re-read the Scriptures and to ask questions of people and to observe life around them and to love. So where am I going with this? I think most folks want to know how to evangelize others. Here are my thoughts at this point.

Step One is prayer; frequent, deep, and consistent prayer. God wants to hear what is on your mind and heart. Spend time telling Him about you.

Step Two is meditation. Prayer is where we talk to God. Meditation is where we listen to God. What are you hearing God say to you to do? Do you even give God enough time to answer your questions?

Step Three in evangelism is the reading of scripture. How can we live into God’s Word if we do not read God’s Word?

 Are you still with me at this point? I hope so. I really hope these are all regular spiritual practices for you. Now it begins to get hard.

How many unchurched people do you know? If you do not know any unchurched people, how can you evangelize? Step Four is to meet unchurched people. Believe me, they are around. But keep in mind, just because they do not go to church does not mean they are bad people. Watch your assumptions and prejudices. There are many very nice folks who do not attend worship anywhere. Keep meeting people and God will help you meet some very nice folks that will make your life richer. Hopefully, you will make theirs richer also.

Step Five is to ask lots of open ended questions. Ask, don’t tell. What kinds of questions? "Tell me about yourself." "What are you reading?" "How do you see God at work in your life?" "What are your struggles in life?" "How can I journey beside you?" And I am sure you have many more that are better than those few. However, if any of your first hundred questions is churchy sounding, then you risk losing credibility. Keep it human to human. If God is in you, they will see Christ’s reflection in your actions, in your words, and in your heart.

Step Six is to learn to trust that person and to have that person trust you. That takes time, lots and lots and lots of time. Are you willing to invest the time it takes to trust people? It is at this place that what God has done for you in your life can begin to have credibility with the other person, once they trust you. At this level of relationship, you are probably getting close to being able to ask them if they would like to come to church with you.

Step Seven is the easiest step, because if you are at this step, God will be leading you and there are no more steps to take because you will have established a relationship with another human. Actually there is a step after that one, and that is for each of you to start back at Step One and evangelize and disciple more folks.

Let me do the math for you. If the thirty or so of us who are in regular attendance could establish a deep, meaningful relationship with just one person each, there would be twice as many people working in The Kingdom.

The Kingdom is depending on you. Ask God if that is true. 

Rev. Tom Ficklin

 




April 5, 2016, 3:19 PM

The Good News in April, 2016 ~ A Message from the Pastor


Happy Easter!! As a post resurrection Christian, we could certainly say “Happy Easter” each

and every single day. We spent seven weeks in Lent preparing for Easter, and yet, in some

way, Easter always sneaks up on us. But then, I believe Easter is full of surprise and mystery.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

The women went to the tomb expecting to anoint a body, that wasn’t there.

Folks walking are joined by another only to have their hearts warmed.

Fishermen come in to eat only to have their eyes opened.

Where in your life are your eyes being opened? Where in your life is your heart being

warmed? Where do you find joy in resurrection when you were expecting the destruction of

grief? That is the joy of Jesus the Christ in the resurrection we call Easter.

But Easter never leaves us where it found us, does it? What was broken is suddenly complete!

What was scattered is suddenly put together! What was lost has now been found!

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

That joy of Easter makes us a forward looking person. That joy of Easter makes us look for

lost sheep, lost coins, and lost children. That joy of Easter helps us to build bridges with each

other and with communities. That joy of Easter has to be shared. If you keep us quiet, Jesus

says the rocks will cry out!

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

I pray for grace and peace and love for each of you always, and especially here at Easter.

Reach out to your fellow humans. Ask them to tell you their story. Listen closely to hear

where God is at work in their lives. Then listen to what God is saying to you. You may be

surprised! You may be filled with joy! You may be making a Kingdom connection!

HAPPY EASTER!!




February 23, 2016, 8:23 PM

The Good News in March, 2016 ~ A Message from the Pastor


On March 25, 1965, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. The popular name of that speech is “How Long, Not Long (AKA Our God Is Marching On).”  The speech addressed the change needed on issues related to poverty, segregation, and the Vietnam War.  If you have ever listened to the speech, you can hear the anguish about change, both the need for change and the angst that change brings.

I am not The Reverend Dr. King, nor will I ever claim to be.  However, as his speech is being remembered near the anniversary and with the two conversations we have had about our first two Lenten questions, I feel compelled to ask everyone some questions.  (Be careful, some of these questions are keeping some of our members up at night…)

HOW MANY times a day do you pray for our church to be effective in Kingdom work in a lost and hurting world that does not seem to value church?

HOW MANY times have you prayed for the individuals themselves that live in the local neighborhood?

HOW MANY times have do you show up at church so that the neighborhood sees, and believes, that our church is alive and active?

HOW MANY people have you invited to church this year?  Most people come to church simply because they are asked by someone they know. 

HOW MANY times this year have you imagined, reached, and acted beyond your comfort zone solely for the Kingdom?

One of the famous quotes out of Dr. King’s speech is,

"The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. (Yes, sir) The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. (No) There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going."

Our God is marching on, and each of us has to figure out if we are marching with Him, or simply sitting and watching the parade.


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